In treacherous conditions for qualifying for the 2022 Canadian Grand Prix, it was Max Verstappen who kept his head to claim his first pole position of 2022 since Imola – with Alpine’s Fernando Alonso coming back after a stunning run by the Spaniard would push him into the front row .
Verstappen set a time of 1m21.299s on Intermediate tires at the drying Circuit Gilles Villeneuve to leave a full 0.645s clear of the field, led by Alonso – who will claim his first front row start in 10 years on pole in Germany before.
Completing the top three was Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, whose teammate Charles Leclerc will start from P19 after adopting new powerplant elements. Lewis Hamilton showed his wet weather skills to take P4, ahead of a good performance from Haas drivers Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher, who shared the third row in P5 and P6.
Red Bull race
Haas F1 Team
Esteban Ocon took P7 ahead of George Russell’s second Mercedes – an attempt to set a lap on slicks in the closing stages failed for the Englishman when he spun at Turn 2 – with Daniel Ricciardo leading Zhou Guanyu. The Chinese driver made his first-ever Q3 appearance but will be investigated after the session for an infringement at Turn 14.
Valtteri Bottas was 11th, ahead of Alex Albon’s Williams, then Sergio Perez – who crashed his Red Bull out of Q2 and showed red flags – ahead of Lando Norris, the Briton who had a power unit problem.
Leclerc was P15 but will fall behind with his penalty, promoting Pierre Gasly, Sebastian Vettel, Lance Stroll and Nicholas Latifi, all eliminated in Q1.
Yuki Tsunoda will bring up the rear of the field after also receiving engine penalties for drive unit changes.
Qualifying Highlights: 2022 Canadian Grand Prix
WHEN IT HAPPENED
Q1 – FP3 stars Vettel and Gasly miss out as both Canadians are out
Race officials made no secret of the weather conditions prior to qualifying, confirming that the risk of rain was 100% – with all runners duly spending the opening segment on the extremely wet tyres. “The plan is to get a time on the board early with the risk of red and yellow flags,” radioed Pete Bonnington, Hamilton’s engineer, to his driver. “I can’t see much in front of me,” Hamilton replied.
Conditions were certainly tough – but the 20 riders were looking to lap Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, with Max Verstappen taking the lead by 1m32.219s, ahead of Alonso’s Alpine, who rode beautifully in the wet after leading FP3 in similar conditions .
Q1 would see some big scalps, with Pierre Gasly and Sebastian Vettel both clashing with the conditions and falling out – the pair being P2 and P3 in FP3, Vettel audibly frustrated over team radio.
The home crowd was also disappointed as both Montreal-born racers Lance Stroll and Nicholas Latifi retired in Q1, along with the second AlphaTauri of engine penalty-hit Yuki Tsunoda to finish P20. Charles Leclerc, who will also start at the top of the grid after adopting a number of new powerplant elements, came into Q2 in P5, while Alex Albon also impressed as he and Williams made their first Q2 appearance since Bahrain.
Eliminated: Gasly, Vettel, Stroll, Latifi, Tsunoda
Q2 – Verstappen heads Alonso again as Perez-smash brings out red flags
A handful of riders swallowed their brave pills and made their way to Q2 on the green-walled intermediates. Hamilton – who retired on wet tires – said the conditions were “definitely on the crossover, very tight”.
Albon and Perez may have disagreed, the medium tire runners both found the wall at Turns 6 and 3 respectively early in the segment, the two drivers aquaplaning away and crashing into the barriers.
Albon’s impact seemed harmless enough, causing little visible damage – despite Williams having changed his front wing – but Perez damaged both his own front wing and was unable to find reverse on his RB18, wedged in the TECPROs and showing a red flag.
The Mexican was forced to get out of the car and trek through parkland back to the paddock, his qualifying over in a day Red Bull would have liked to have taken home their advantage over penalty-hit Leclerc.
2022 Canadian GP Qualifying: Pérez shows the red flags after hitting the barrier in Q2
Despite goals from Albon and Perez, all the remaining runners made their way back for the remaining nine minutes save for Leclerc – happy to turn him off given his penalties – and Norris, who suffered an engine misfire on his McLaren, the Brit. reported retiring with three minutes to go before retiring to the pits, his problem was clearly not resolved.
Times tumbled as the track improved, but the first two ended the same as Q1, with Verstappen again leading Alonso with a 1m23.746s. Alongside Perez, Norris and Leclerc in the drop zone were Bottas and Albon – the Thai rider with his best qualifying session of the season but not quite enough to give Williams a first Q3 of the year.
Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu did well his first-ever Q3 appearance in P7 as Mick Schumacher also impressed with his second appearance in the top 10 shootout, alongside fellow Haas teammate Kevin Magnussen. Those Haases, the Mercedes and the Alpines were the only three teams with both cars in Q3.
Eliminated: Bottas, Albon, Perez, Norris, Leclerc
Q3 – Verstappen and Alonso again 1-2 as the Dutchman takes pole
In these conditions, you wouldn’t have bet that someone would take pole position in the Montreal trio on Saturday.
In the opening gambit, Verstappen led Sainz and Alonso, Schumacher did well to line up in P4. But the track changed minute by minute, corner by corner, and the times kept getting better.
Was it dry enough for slicks? George Russell thought it was worth a punt but there was a cropper coming into Turn 2 that spun into the grass in a move that would give him P8. Nothing risked…
However, Verstappen flew and claimed his 15th career pole on his last lap with a time of 1:21.299 seconds. But it was Alonso who entertained the crowd, the two-time champion who slid past the Wall of Champions on his last attempt to reach P2 – Alonso was surprisingly the fastest Spaniard as he passed his protégé Carlos Sainz who finished third .
Hamilton made his first top-four start of the year ahead of enthusiastic Haas boys Magnussen and Schumacher – as Ocon, Russell, Ricciardo and Zhou rounded out the top-10 after a memorable Canadian qualifying session.
Qualifying Canadian GP 2022: Russell’s risky switch to slicks ends in a spin
The key quote
“Of course I still expect that it won’t be an easy race,” said Verstappen after securing pole for his 150th Grand Prix. “But I think today in the difficult conditions we stayed calm, we didn’t make any mistakes and we made the right decisions in Q3, of course super happy to get pole position here. Also, it’s been a while since we’re back in Montreal and it’s great to see all the fans.
“Here you really get that go-kart feeling back with really real curbs, so we always enjoy driving here and look forward to tomorrow.”
The 2022 Canadian Grand Prix starts at 14:00 at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Will it be the sixth win in a row for a Red Bull this season? Or can Alonso use his experience to fight for his first win since Spain 2013?