Montreal GP Russell Leads

Russell Seizes Pole in Montreal, Ferraris Out Early


George Russell clinched pole at the Montreal GP, outpacing Verstappen and the McLarens, while Ferrari faced an early exit.

Despite three free practice sessions, predicting a favourite for the pole position at the Canadian Grand Prix remains a challenge. Friday’s sessions did not establish a clear hierarchy, and the third session offered a grid that seemed hardly credible.

Indeed, Lewis Hamilton led Max Verstappen and George Russell, while McLaren F1 and Aston Martin appeared to be the dark horses. Ferrari drivers expressed concerns over their pace, with Sergio Pérez also lagging behind.

Esteban Ocon will face a five-place grid penalty following a collision with Pierre Gasly in Monaco. Moreover, rain could play a disruptive role, as showers are expected over Montreal at the time of the qualifying session. If that occurs, tyre management will be crucial during the qualifiers.

At 21:55, weather forecasts predicted showers during the session, with an 80% chance of rain. Notably, a heavy shower had already struck between the third practice and the qualifiers.

Q1 – 18 minutes

Raindrops were already appearing at turns 7 and 8 according to Lando Norris’s engineer, but he noted they were light enough to be inconspicuous. Several drivers quickly went out to set a time in case the rain intensified, but not the Ferraris.

Lance Stroll was among the first on the track and complained of cold tyres, while the Mercedes drivers were the last to exit, aiming to maximise track sweeping. By doing this, Hamilton and Russell could be faster if Q1 boiled down to a single dry attempt before the rain.

Max Verstappen posted a time of 1’15″194, the first reference time. Sergio Pérez recorded a 1’16″352, and Norris was faster at 1’14″585. Carlos Sainz made a mistake in the first turn of his attempt, which could cost him.

Esteban Ocon slotted in between the Red Bulls, and Guanyu Zhou took fifth fastest. Stroll finished his fast lap and led with a time of 1’14″519. Logan Sargeant also moved ahead of Pérez, who complained of having “very little grip”. Valtteri Bottas took third place.

Fernando Alonso achieved the best time at 1’14″418, immediately bested by Russell with a 1’14″012. Oscar Piastri posted the second-fastest time, while Kevin Magnussen and Sainz had their times deleted for exceeding track limits.

Magnussen secured the second-fastest time, Norris improved and moved into first place with a time of 1’13″541. Alex Albon climbed to sixth, and Hamilton slotted into eighth between the Aston Martins as times rapidly evolved.

Tsunoda positioned fourth, Stroll improved to second place just two thousandths behind Norris. Sargeant moved up to fifth, and Ricciardo to third. With such track evolution, timing will be crucial, either due to the rain or the checkered flag.

Verstappen set the fastest time at 1’13″368, and Leclerc moved up to fourth. Stroll hit the wall at the Wall of Champions but reported his car was fine. Drivers continued lapping on soft tyres, fueling up to run until the rain.

Alonso climbed to fourth and Ricciardo to sixth, but then Sainz moved into fifth position. Russell secured the best time at 1’13″242, and Hamilton moved up to third, underlining Brackley team’s strong performance.

Piastri was provisionally eliminated and complained of being hindered by Hamilton and Tsunoda. It was primarily the Japanese driver who caused him to slow down his lap. Leclerc missed his first turn after being disrupted by drivers slowing near the apex.

Pérez was on a fast lap but aborted his attempt, returning to his garage five minutes before the end of Q1. The Mexican was provisionally eliminated and appeared to be in great difficulty, posting a time 1.1 seconds slower than his teammate Verstappen.

Gasly improved to the second-fastest time, indicating that the track continued to evolve right up to the last minutes. Piastri recorded the 11th time and Magnussen the eighth. Stroll took the lead with a time of 1’13″088, and Ocon recorded the fifth fastest time.

Sargeant moved up to fifth, Norris took the best time at 1’12″959, and Alonso positioned third. Tsunoda achieved the fourth fastest time, and Ricciardo the ninth, while Verstappen reported gear-shifting issues over the radio.

Russell moved up to second, and Hamilton took first place with a time of 1’12″851. The race directors dismissed the obstruction of Piastri by Tsunoda and Hamilton. Sainz advanced to fourth position. Magnussen moved up to eighth.

Leclerc recorded the sixth fastest time, Bottas the 12th, and Pérez did no better than 12th, while several drivers still had room for improvement. Sargeant moved up to sixth, Ricciardo recorded the 12th time, and Verstappen took the lead with a time of 1’12″360. Tsunoda moved up to second and Albon to fourth. Ocon, 18th, would start last due to his penalty.

Eliminated were Pérez, Bottas, Ocon, Hülkenberg, and Zhou. The Frenchman would start last with his five-place penalty.

Q2 – 15 minutes

Raindrops reappeared as the drivers left the pits to compete in Q2.

Russell posted a time of 1’13″121, and Hamilton bettered it with 1’13″104. Magnussen positioned just behind, and Sainz took the fourth place. Sainz was fifth, and Piastri finished with a very fast time that sent him to the lead at 1’12″462. Verstappen placed second, six-tenths behind.

Albon completed with the seventh fastest time, just ahead of Sargeant. Sainz took second place while Piastri kept a margin of six-tenths. Alonso moved into second place at 0.389 seconds behind Piastri, beaten by Leclerc who closed to within 0.311 seconds of the best time. Tsunoda took fourth place.

Russell beat the fastest time with 1’12″323, and Verstappen expressed frustration over the traffic although the driver had moved off his line. Hamilton recorded the third time despite a significant slide in the last chicane.

Verstappen improved but only recorded the ninth fastest time, and Sainz almost immediately relegated him to tenth place by positioning eighth. Leclerc did not improve but remained fifth, behind the two McLarens and the two Mercedes.

Sargeant moved up to fifth, Albon to eighth, and Norris recorded the best time at 1’12″201. Ricciardo moved up to fourth and Tsunoda to second, just a tenth of a second behind Norris. Verstappen was provisionally eliminated 1 minute 40 seconds before the end of Q2 and set off for a fast lap.

Leclerc only managed ninth, and Verstappen secured fifth place, just enough to advance to Q3. Hamilton improved his lap time, registering the fastest at 1’11″979. Russell then outdid him with a time of 1’11″742, while Sainz improved but only to 11th place, resulting in the elimination of both Ferraris!

Eliminated were Leclerc, Sainz, Sargeant, Magnussen, and Gasly.

Q3 – 12 minutes

Verstappen was under investigation for not adhering to the race director’s instructions. This likely stemmed from him squeezing between two cars in the fast lane in the pits, without having his wheels behind the line that separates the fast lane from the slow lane, a rule mandated since Monaco.

The much-feared rain had yet to arrive, and the drivers were thus eager to hit the track, even though raindrops were falling on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. The first fast lap could be crucial for setting the starting grid.

Piastri recorded a time of 1’12″713, only to be beaten by Verstappen with a 1’12″358! Norris finished with the third fastest time, and Alonso surpassed him to take third place. Stroll positioned himself fourth as the Mercedes drivers delayed their track entry as long as possible.

Albon took the fifth fastest time ahead of Norris, and Tsunoda recorded a much slower time due to taking two preparation laps. Ricciardo did the same, while the Mercedes drivers started their laps late.

Russell outperformed Verstappen in the first sector, and Hamilton bettered his teammate in the first part of the circuit. Russell also excelled in the second sector, outdoing Hamilton before the final sector.

Tsunoda placed sixth, Ricciardo eighth. Russell improved to 1’12″000, and Hamilton slotted into second at a 0.280-second gap! The Mercedes team was not bluffing and clearly found a way to improve performance!

The McLaren drivers ventured out earlier than their rivals to avoid traffic. It was a risky move by the team’s duo, who didn’t benefit from optimal track conditions.

Piastri finished with the second fastest time, capturing the best time in the third sector. Norris did even better, coming within 0.021 seconds of Russell, but other drivers still had one more fast lap to complete.

Stroll secured the sixth fastest time, momentarily moving ahead of Hamilton. Ricciardo advanced to fourth place, and Alonso finished with the fifth fastest time. Tsunoda recorded the eighth provisional time.

Verstappen finished with the second fastest time, tying with Russell! However, since Russell set his time earlier, he retains the pole position. Russell did not improve on his second lap, while Hamilton also failed to better his time, remaining in seventh place.

Thus, Russell is in pole position, followed by Verstappen and then the two McLarens of Norris and Piastri. Ricciardo is fifth, ahead of Alonso. Hamilton and Tsunoda will start on the fourth row, ahead of Stroll and Albon.

01George RussellMercedes W151:13.0131:11.7421:12.000
02Max VerstappenRed Bull Honda RBPT RB201:12.3601:12.5491:12.000
03Lando NorrisMcLaren Mercedes MCL381:12.9591:12.2011:12.021
04Oscar PiastriMcLaren Mercedes MCL381:12.9071:12.4621:12.103
05Daniel RicciardoRB Honda RBPT VCARB 011:13.2401:12.5721:12.178
06Fernando AlonsoAston Martin Mercedes AMR241:13.1171:12.6351:12.228
07Lewis HamiltonMercedes W151:12.8511:11.9791:12.280
08Yuki TsunodaRB Honda RBPT VCARB 011:12.7481:12.3031:12.414
09Lance StrollAston Martin Mercedes AMR241:13.0881:12.6591:12.701
10Alex AlbonWilliams Mercedes FW461:12.8961:12.4851:12.796
11Charles LeclercFerrari SF-241:13.1071:12.691
12Carlos SainzFerrari SF-241:13.0381:12.728
13Logan SargeantWilliams Mercedes FW461:13.0631:12.736
14Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari VF-241:13.2171:12.916
15Pierre GaslyAlpine Renault A5241:13.2891:12.940
16Sergio PérezRed Bull Honda RBPT RB201:13.326
17Valtteri BottasStake F1 Kick Sauber C441:13.366
18Esteban OconAlpine Renault A5241:13.435
19Nico HülkenbergHaas Ferrari VF-241:13.978
20Guanyu ZhouStake F1 Kick Sauber C441:14.292
Montreal GP: Russell Leads

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