In tough conditions for qualifying for the 2022 Canadian Grand Prix, it was Max Verstappen who kept a cool head to claim his first pole position of 2022 since Imola – with Alpine’s Fernando Alonso set to join him in the front row after a stunning run from the Spaniard. .
Spinning on intermediate tires at the Gilles Villeneuve drying circuit, Verstappen clocked a time of 1m 21.299s, leaving him a full 0.645s clear of the peloton, led by Alonso – who will make his first front row start since his pole in Germany 10 years ago.
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz completed the top three, whose team-mate Charles Leclerc is set to start P19 after taking on new power unit elements. Lewis Hamilton showed his wet weather prowess to take P4, ahead of a strong performance from Haas drivers Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher, sharing the third row in P5 and P6.
Running of the red bulls
Haas F1 Team
Esteban Ocon claimed 7th ahead of George Russell’s second Mercedes – an attempt to do a slick lap in the closing stages which failed for the Englishman, as he spun at Turn 2 – with Daniel Ricciardo in the lead by Zhou Guanyu. The Chinese driver was making his very first Q3 appearance but will be investigated after the session for a Turn 14 infringement.
Valtteri Bottas finished 11th, ahead of Alex Albon’s Williams and then Sergio Perez – who crashed his Red Bull in Q2, bringing out red flags – ahead of Lando Norris, the Briton struggling with a power unit problem.
Leclerc was P15, but will fall back with his penalty, promoting Pierre Gasly, Sebastian Vettel, Lance Stroll and Nicholas Latifi, all of whom retired in Q1.
Yuki Tsunoda will trail the pack, having also taken engine penalties for power unit changes.
Qualifying Highlights: 2022 Canadian Grand Prix
HOW IT HAPPENED
Q1 – FP3 stars Vettel and Gasly fail as both Canadians drop out
Race Control was in no doubt about the weather conditions ahead of qualifying, confirming that the chance of rain was 100% – with all riders duly passing the opening segment on extreme rain tyres. “The plan is to get an early board time with the risk of red and yellow flags,” Pete Bonnington, Hamilton’s engineer, radioed his driver. “I don’t see much in front of me,” retorted Hamilton.
The conditions were admittedly tough – but the 20 riders set out to complete the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, with Max Verstappen in the lead with a 1m 32.219s, ahead of Alpine d’Alonso, riding beautifully in the wet, having led FP3 in similar conditions.
Q1 would see big scalps, with Pierre Gasly and Sebastian Vettel both falling to the conditions and retiring – with the pair having been P2 and P3 in FP3, Vettel was visibly frustrated with the team radio.
The home crowd were also disappointed, with both Montreal-born racers Lance Stroll and Nicholas Latifi exiting in Q1, as well as second engine AlphaTauri Yuki Tsunoda, who took P20. Charles Leclerc, who will also start on the big grid after taking on a series of new power unit elements, progressed to Q2 in P5, while Alex Albon also impressed to make his first appearance in Q2 with Williams from Bahrain.
Eliminated: Gasly, Vettel, Stroll, Latifi, Tsunoda
Q2 – Verstappen heads Alonso again as Perez smash brings out red flags
A handful of drivers swallowed their brave pills and headed into Q2 on the green-sided intermediates, with Hamilton – who came out on wet tracks – saying the conditions were “definitely on the crossover, very close”.
Albon and Perez may have begged to differ, with the intermediate-shod riders both finding the wall at turns 6 and 3 respectively at the start of the segment, with both riders aquaplaning and hitting the barriers.
Albon’s impact looked harmless enough, causing little visible damage – although Williams changed his front wing – but Perez both damaged his own front wing and couldn’t find reverse gear on his RB18, leaving him stuck in the TECPROs and bringing out a red flag.
The Mexican was forced out of the car and across the park to return to the paddock, his qualifying completed on a day when Red Bull would have loved to accentuate their advantage over Leclerc, penalized on the grid.
2022 Canadian GP qualifying: Pérez shows red flags after breaking the barrier in Q2
Despite hits from Albon and Perez, all of the remaining runners came back on the intermediates for the remaining nine minutes, except for Leclerc – happy to park him given his penalties – and Norris, who signaled a fuel misfire on his McLaren, the Briton heading out with three minutes to go before retreating to the pits, his problem clearly not resolved.
With the track improving the times plummeted, but the top two finished as Q1, with Verstappen again edging out Alonso with a 1m 23.746s. Joining Perez, Norris and Leclerc in the drop zone were Bottas and Albon – the Thai driver with his best qualifying of the season, but not enough to give Williams a first Q3 of the year.
Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu has progressed his first appearance in Q3 in P7, while Mick Schumacher also impressed with his second appearance in the top 10 on penalties, joined by Haas team-mate Kevin Magnussen. Those Haases, Mercedes and Alpines were the only three teams with both cars in Q3.
Eliminated: Bottas, Albon, Perez, Norris, Leclerc
Q3 – Verstappen and Alonso 1-2 once again as the Dutchman takes pole
With conditions as they were, you wouldn’t be betting against anyone taking pole position in the Montreal dreich on Saturday.
The opening gambit saw Verstappen leading Sainz and Alonso, with Schumacher doing well to slot into P4. But the track was changing minute by minute, turn by turn, as the times continued to improve.
Was it dry enough for slicks? George Russell thought it was worth a punt but came on a crop in Turn 2, spinning through the grass in a move that would leave him P8. Nothing ventured…
Verstappen was flying though and duly batted in a 1m 21.299s on his final lap to take his 15th career pole. But it was Alonso who entertained the crowd, the power of the two-time champion slipping past the wall of champions on his final effort to win P2 – Alonso surprisingly the fastest Spaniard, as he edged his protege Carlos Sainz , who took third place.
Hamilton earned his first top-four start of the year, ahead of the delighted Haas boys, Magnussen and Schumacher – as Ocon, Russell, Ricciardo and Zhou completed the top 10 after a memorable Canadian qualifier.
2022 Canadian GP qualifying: Russell’s risky move to slicks ends in a spin
The key quote
“Of course I still expect it not to be a straightforward race,” Verstappen said after securing pole for what will be his 150th Grand Prix. “But I think today with the difficult conditions we stayed calm, we didn’t make any mistakes and we had the right choices in Q3, of course super happy to have got pole position. Also, being back here in Montreal, it’s been a while and it’s great to see all the fans.
“You really get the feel of karting with real curbs here, so we always enjoy driving here and are looking forward to tomorrow.”
The 2022 Canadian Grand Prix starts at 2:00 p.m. at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Will this be the sixth consecutive victory for a Red Bull this season? Or can Alonso use his experience to fight for his first win since Spain 2013?