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MONTREAL, QUEBEC - JUNE 08: Pole position qualifier George Russell of Great Britain and Mercedes and Second placed qualifier Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing celebrate in parc ferme during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Canada at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on June 08, 2024 in Montreal, Quebec. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Verstappen: It will be an interesting race with tyres and weather

MONTREAL, QUEBEC - JUNE 08: Pole position qualifier George Russell of Great Britain and Mercedes and Second placed qualifier Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing celebrate in parc ferme during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Canada at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on June 08, 2024 in Montreal, Quebec. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Be sure Max Verstappen knows he won’t be cruising to victories with the regular monotonous excellence in a Red Bull car, after Qualifying for the Canadian Grand Prix the triple Formula 1 World Champion knows he has a fight on his hands.

Ferrari broke RBRs dominance with Carlos Sainz’s magnificent victory in Melbourne. Charles Leclerc profided dollops of optimism with his fine win in Monaco last time out, but the Reds are AWOL on the grid, P11 and P10 for their drivers.

However, stepping up to the plate with a raft of upgrades, are Mercedes with George Russell claiming pole position by no margin as he and Verstappen both popped a 1:12.000s laps in Q3 on the timing screens. George claiming P1 by virtue of setting his lap earlier than Max.

Add to that an all-McLaren second row, with Lando Norris (-0.021s off pole) and Oscar Piastri within a tenth of the top time, has set the stage for a humdinger, for which our preview is no longer the perpetual: Who can beat Max Verstappen today? Three or four guys at least!

Reflecting on the dead-heat with Russell, after Qualifying the Red Bull ace 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 the race 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, 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,” added Verstappen.

Perez: I had no grip and was sliding too much

MONTREAL, QUEBEC - JUNE 07: Sergio Perez of Mexico and Oracle Red Bull Racing prepares to drive in the garage during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Canada at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on June 07, 2024 in Montreal, Quebec. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Way down the order again. It was another woeful Qualifying performance by Sergio Perez in the second Red Bull. The Mexican’s pitiful Qualy form (not only relative to Max) is in the spotlight as he fell short in Q1 yet again, while his teammate topped the time sheets at that point.

Perez was nearly a full second shy of Verstappen’s top time at the end of Q1, which means he starts down in P16. This afternoon in Montreal he should make amends for his unnecessary lap one, race-ending shunt with Kevin Magnussen in Monaco. Starting from the eighth row today will not help his cause.

Reflecting on his disappointing Saturday, Perez said: “In these conditions somehow, we weren’t able to switch on the rear axle, I couldn’t lean on it at all and I didn’t have any confidence at the time to push.

“Basically, I had no grip, I was sliding too much and that meant our qualifying was a total disaster. We need to look at it and understand the reason behind it, it was stepping away from me all the time. In hindsight we could have done a lot of different things but at the end of the day we lacked some pace, simple as that.

“There are some fundamental issues that we need to address, understand, and figure out, to make sure we are able to improve in the coming races. I am angry with myself; we are a Team and it is not an ideal time for us but we have full focus on the race.

“Hopefully we are able to save something and score some points. The weather can hopefully help us, it can make things unpredictable, and we will see what we can do with the strategy as well,” added Perez, who this week inked a two year extension with Red Bull.

Horner: Verstappen just got stronger and stronger in qualifying

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Team boss Christian Horner summed up his team’s Saturday n Montreal: “It was disappointing for Checo to miss out by such a small margin in Q1 as he struggled with the rear grip in the car. We’ll have to look into the reasons for that so that we can give him the best chance of coming through the field, which we know he’s capable of.

“On a track which was rapidly evolving and where all teams were going through their tyre allocation quickly, Max just got stronger and stronger through the qualifying. To miss out on the top place whilst exactly matching the pole time was an outstanding effort after a tricky Friday and it’s great to be lining up on the front row alongside George, in an exciting-looking grid,” ventured the Red Bull team principal.

StatsF1 show that Verstappen and Red Bull still have healthy leads in the 2024 world championships, but the chasing pack are not far behind, especially compared to last year. The damage inflicted on their dominance in recent races came just when F1 was readying for another season of Max winning non-stop.

Thankfully ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix today, this is now apparently a thing of the past…

Compared 2023 & 2024 F1 Standings after Round 8:

2023 2024 F1 drivers standings after Canada Rd8 verstappen perez red bull

verstappen perez red bull 2023 2024 f1 standings after round 8 monaco gp