ADVERTISEMENT
Canadian GP Qualifying: Russell Verstappen dead heat, Ferrari flop

Canadian GP Qualifying: Russell Verstappen dead heat, Ferrari flop

Canadian GP Qualifying: Russell Verstappen dead heat, Ferrari flop

George Russell took pole for the 2024 Canadian Grand Prix, setting the exact same time as Max Verstappen who had to settle for second having set his best time after the Mercedes driver set his.

It was the second Formula 1 career pole for Russell and the second time in the history of the sport when identical times were posted for pole.

As a result, Russell delivered on the promise Mercedes showed in the final practice, just hours before qualifying, and while Hamilton was faster earlier, Russell turned the tables on his decorated teammate.

ADVERTISEMENT

Verstappen, on the other hand, had to settle for second, and while it was not what we have come to expect from him, it was a decent showing from the Dutchman after suffering from car trouble, not to mention the tough recent few races where Red Bull have been racing with Ferrari and McLaren breathing down their necks.

And while Verstappen dragged the RB20 all through qualifying, Sergio Perez did not deliver the result Red Bull would’ve have wanted after extending his contract as the Mexican was eliminated from Q1 for the second week in a row. He starts 16th.

And while many expected Ferrari to be favorites this weekend, the Reds went from hero to zero in the space of two weeks as both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz were out of qualifying in Q2 after the team put them on a wrong strategy using used Softs on the first runs.

Lando Norris who claimed Ferrari were the team to beat coming to Canada, was third fastest behind Russell and Verstappen on a weekend when McLaren’s form was a bit of a mystery.

Russell: Let’s go for it!

Image

“Amazing. It feels so good,” a pumped up Russell said after qualifying. “So much hard work at the factory has gone into this and we said it in Monaco, we hope this is the start of something for our season, and I think it is.

“I’ve missed this feeling,” he added. “Excited for tomorrow. First step done, but now obviously we’ve got our eyes on that win.”

Quizzed whether he could beat Verstappen, the Briton responded: “Why not? Of course. Let’s go for it.

“The car has been feeling amazing since we brought some upgrades to Monaco, we have really been in that fight now. So we’re going for it tomorrow,” he concluded.

Verstappen commented on his second place, he said: “It’s how it is, right. I think overall we still had a good qualifying.

“The whole weekend has been still a bit tricky for us, but to be P2, I’d take it. Going into qualifying I would have definitely taken that. So that it was that close at the end makes it really exciting for tomorrow as well.

“I felt good in Monaco but it was just not our track, it was not happening for us. This weekend again we didn’t have a great build up to today.

“But I think it will be quite an interesting race with the tyres tomorrow, how they are going to fare. The weather as well – it keeps on coming in and out, the rain. So hopefully it will be very exciting,” the triple F1 Champion concluded.

Norris was satisfied with his third place, he added: “I’m super happy. First of all, congrats to Mr Russell. He has been quick all weekend, so congrats to him and Mercedes.

“But I’m happy with third. When it’s so close you always think ‘could I have like jumped in the car for that little bit more?’ but third is a good job by us. So I’m happy and excited for tomorrow,” he added after missing out on pole by the slightest of margins.

“That’s Montreal, that’s why we love it here,” the McLaren driver responded when asked about qualifying in Montreal.

“It’s one of the best places to come to every year. A lot of the time you’re thinking your are going to crash, half of it, but when you put a nice lap in and end up top three it’s always a nice feeling,” he concluded.

Q3: It doesn’t get any closer than this

The track was still dry at the start of Q3, that even some drivers were out on used Softs, meaning setting a dry lap was not a priority as it seems the radars informed the teams that mother nature has changed its mind.

With the first runs done and dusted, it was Russell that was on provisional pole ahead of Hamilton in second, with Verstappen third fastest.

Piastri was fourth ahead of Alonso in fifth with Stroll behind his teammate in sixth as Albon was seventh. Tsunoda was eighth and Norris was ninth with Ricciardo in tenth.

But soon all the drivers were back in the pits for brand new Soft tyres and with four minutes remaining from Q3, the final runs of qualifying began.

In the end, it was a historic moment that we witnessed in Canada, as Russell and Verstappen posted an identical time, a 1:12.000, but since Russell posted his on his first lap, he was the driver to bag pole with Verstappen classified second.

Norris was just 0.021s behind in third and 0.082s ahead of teammate Oscar Piastri, who was fourth fastest in the second MCL38.

Daniel Ricciardo was a superb fifth in the VCARB, 0.178s off the pace outqualifying teammate Yuki Tsunoda who was confirmed with the team for 2025 minutes before qualifying started.

Fernando Alonso was sixth fastest for Aston Martin, 0.228s away from pole and 0.052s ahead of Lewis Hamilton who – after so much promise – failed to get on the front row and was seventh fastest.

Tsunoda was eighth, 0.236s off the pace of his teammate, and was ahead of Lance Stroll, the Canadian qualifying ninth in front of his home fans.

Alex Albon was an excellent tenth for Williams.

Image

Q2: Both Ferrari drivers out!

Image

Q2 started with the conditions still dry, as forecasts expected rain to hit in Q3, and again the drivers soon lined up the pitlane to ensure they got a dry lap in.

Norris’ engineer, again informed him that first spots of rain hit Turn 7 and 8 and were expected to last for two to three minutes.

The stewards announced that Verstappen was under investigation for failing to follow the race directors instructions while leaving the pitlane.

Replays showed Verstappen complaining about Russell who was in front of him, while Hamilton had a moment on the kerbs in the final chicane, but kept it together.

“Russell had a huge moment and Turn 4 but somehow didn’t crash, he radioed: “Holy, Molly!”

With five minutes remaining, the final runs in Q2 began, as drivers returned and took on new sets of Soft tyres to make sure they booked a place in the top ten.

At the end of Q2, the fastest driver was Russell with a 1:11.742, 0.237s ahead of Hamilton in second, and 0.459s faster of Norris in third.

The biggest shock of Q2? Both Ferraris were out, as Leclerc was 11th fastest missing out on Q3 to Stroll by 0.032s as Sainz was 0.037s behind his teammate in 12th, the Spaniard messing up his final lap.

It seems running used Soft tyres on the first runs was not a smart decision by Ferrari, Verstappen did the same and barely made it into Q3.

Logan Sargeant was 14th fastest for Williams, 0.180s ahead of Kevin Magnussen in 14th as Pierre Gasly was 15th.

Image

Q1: Perez out of Q1 again!

The first stage of qualifying started in dry conditions, with track temperature at 32 degrees Celsius while the air temperature was 20 degrees, but the the threat of rain loomed over the track, as there was an 80% risk of rain.

The drivers rushed to the pitlane exit, waiting for the green light as time was of the essence with rain coming in and it was essential that they could put in some banker laps in the dry before getting caught out.

Ferrari and Mercedes though took their time, and waited in the pits as well as Williams who kept Alex Albon in the garage.

Norris was informed that light drops of rain were reported at Turns 7 and 8 despite nothing showing on the radar and the initial times showed that grip levels were still way off, as Perez reported: “Very low grip.”

Sainz had his first lap time deleted for exceeding the track limits at Turn 2. He actually lost his car and went wide.

The drivers kept banging in the laps as the track evolved, while Stroll banged the Wall of Champions but was lucky to keep going, Russell was off and into the grass at Turn 8, so did Hamilton.

Piastri reported that he was impeded by two cars, Hamilton and Tsunoda, while Leclerc also had to deal with cars on his racing line as well.

The first round of laps saw the whole field within 1.3s. That is how close it was and no driver could afford to slip.

Verstappen on the other hand a usual complaint to deliver to his pit wall, he is not happy with his downshifts.

In the end of Q1, Verstappen led the pack with a 1:12.360, 0.388s ahead of Tsunoda in second with Hamilton third fastest.

And for the second race weekend in a row, Perez was out of qualifying in Q1, missing out on Q2 by 0.037s to Gasly. The Mexican was 16th fastest.

Valtteri Bottas was 17th fastest in the Stake F1 Team Sauber, 0.040s behind Perez and 0.069s ahead of Esteban Ocon who was 18th fastest in the Alpine.

Nico Hulkenberg after the highs of 2023 (second in qualifying) was 19th fastest in the Haas and Zhou Guanyu was 20th.

Image