Photo: Haas

Canadian GP Qualifying: Verstappen takes pole as Hulkenberg loses front-row start

It’s another pole position for Max Verstappen as Formula 1 took to a very soggy circuit in Montreal.

Completing the front two rows of the grid were Nico Hulkenberg in P2 and on the second row it is the Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso and the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton…or at least we thought.

The grid order was shaken up after the session following a number of steward investigations, most notably into Nico Hulkenberg potentially being too fast under red flag conditions.

He was found guilty of being too fast and was handed a three-place grid penalty for the Grand Prix.


As the teams edged closer and closer to qualifying the prediction of rain was building but if it would hit the track was all one big guessing game.

The rain did eventually hit the track as the teams competed in Q3 but the rest of the qualifying remained mostly dry.


As Q1 got underway, there was a queue at the end of the pit lane and the Williams of Alex Albon was first on the track.

The intermediates were the tyre of choice for the drivers in Q1 as they looked to avoid any potential problems and get some times on the board.

A red flag was quickly brought out as Zhou Guanyu was facing problems, and he was quickly on the radio reporting a loss of power which saw his Alfa park up on the side of the track and bringing out the red flags.

However, Zhou did manage to get his Alfa moving again as he limped back towards the pits and would be able to continue on with qualifying when the session resumed.

All the drivers were back on the track as it went green again, including Carlos Sainz who was able to make it to qualifying following a speedy repair from the Ferrari mechanics following his crash in FP3.

Q1 remained mainly dry throughout with little to no rain and the racing line was drying out as the session progressed, but it was still a challenge of knowing which parts of the track were dry and which were still wet.

As Q1 concluded it was Yuki Tsunoda, Pierre Gasly, Nyck de Vries, Logan Sargeant and Zhou Guanyu who lost out in progressing onto the rest of qualifying with Zhou setting the slowest time in qualifying.


The weather continued to hold off as Q2 got underway but the intermediates were still the popular tyre of choice.

Albon was the only driver to come out onto the track on the soft tyre, and other drivers were quick to suggest that they should also be making the move onto the softs after getting a banker lap in on the inters.

However, the track was still appearing challenging as hometown driver Lance Stroll took a brief spin and slide in his Aston Martin.

As the rain started to fall, the drivers were still prepared to risk it and made the move onto the softs.

The changes followed after Albon showed the pace of the slicks by putting his Williams in P1 with just over 5 minutes remaining of the session.

Whilst other drivers were pitting for softs Sergio Perez, who was already in the elimination zone, pitted for fresh inters but after going wide he lost his time and it was going to have to be an all-or-nothing lap if he was ever going to make it to Q3.

As the chequered flag was shown for the end of Q2 it was Charles Leclerc, Sergio Perez, Lance Stroll, Kevin Magnussen and Valtteri Bottas who were all eliminated.

Frustrations were evident from the Ferrari of Leclerc and it was disappointment on the pit wall from Red Bull after the strategy didn’t work out for Perez who saw his qualifying journey end in Q2.

A little nod needs to be given to Alex Albon who made it through to Q3 after keeping his Williams in P1 for the remainder of Q2.


With two minutes to go until Q3 Verstappen had already headed to the end of the pit lane to get the front spot of the queue.

The rain was coming down harder as Q3 got underway and we had eight different teams taking part in the top 10 shootout.

Oscar Piastri brought out a red flag which saw a session suspension and Nico Hulkenberg just made it over the line to set a time which saw his Hass take P2 but if he would stay there only time would tell.

The session did get underway again but the rain was falling heavier and harder and there was no improvement for any driver and all the cars took to the pits and got out of their cars before the chequered flag had even dropped.


The top 10 concluded with Verstappen on pole, Hulkenberg in P2, followed by Alonso, Hamilton, George Russell, Esteban Ocon, Lando Norris, Carlos Sainz who could be facing a potential penalty for alleged infringements, the crashed-out McLaren of Oscar Piastri and in P10 was Albon.


After qualifying, several incidents were investigated by the stewards. The first decision arrived just before midnight in the UK, with Carlos Sainz handed a three-place grid penalty for impeding Pierre Gasly.

Lance Stroll and Yuki Tsuonda were both given three-place penalties as well for impeding, with Nico Hulkenberg losing his front-row start following a red flag infringement. He will now start P5 on the grid, with Stroll 16th and Tsunoda 19th.

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