Montreal-Red Bull Formula One leader Max Verstappen shone wet to take a pole position for the Canadian Grand Prix on Saturday as evergreen Fernando Alonso of Alpine celebrated his first place in the front row of the decade.
Verstappen’s main rivals for the title were out of sight, Mexican teammate Sergio Perez crashed and finished 13th, while Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc ended a series of four consecutive flights, falling to 19th due to engine penalties.
“I still expect this not to be just a race,” Verstappen said after his second pole in nine races.
“But today, under difficult conditions, we remained calm and made no mistakes.”
His one-minute qualifying time of 21.299 seconds was 0.645 faster than the surprisingly best of 40-year-old Alonso.
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz was third fastest on the dry track and seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton fourth for Mercedes over the weekend, dominated by talk of bouncing cars and driver safety.
“I can’t tell you how happy I am,” Hamilton said of his best Saturday show to date.
“At a clean pace on dry land we are still far away, but to get to the top four in the qualifiers under these conditions is great.”
Sunday’s race on the Gilles Villeneuve track will be Canada’s first since 2019 and the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and is expected to take place in sunny and dry conditions.
Verstappen has won four of its last five races, with Red Bull chasing six in a row. He leads his teammate Sergio Perez with 21 points, and Charles Leclerc from Ferrari is 13 behind.
The oldest man
Two-time world champion Alonso, the oldest man in the grid, was the fastest in the final practice and Sunday will be his first appearance in the front row since 2012, when he was six for Ferrari in Germany.
The cunning Spaniard said with a smile that he planned to attack Verstappen in the first turn and hoped to lead at least for a moment.
Haas Kevin Magnussen is fifth and his teammate Mick Schumacher is the highest sixth in his career. Esteban Ocon of Alpine is seventh and George Russell of Mercedes is eighth.
“It’s something I can build on and grow on. I have always loved to compete in wet conditions. On a track like this, there is great potential for pilots to show what they can do, “said Schumacher, who has yet to win a point.
McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo finished ninth and Chinese rookie Zhou Guanyu finished 10th for Ferrari-powered Alfa Romeo.
Qualifying was suspended in the second phase when Perez entered the barrier of Tecpro between the third and fourth turns and could not return.
The car had to be towed and the barriers repaired before the session resumed.
Perez qualified with one place ahead of Lando Norris of McLaren, who failed to set a time in the second stage after announcing a problem with the power unit, which the team could not fix.
Williams’ Alex Albon also entered the barriers six turns earlier, but managed to continue, returning to boxing for a new front wing and eventually finishing 12th.
Four-time Aston Martin world champion Sebastian Vettel and Canadian Lance Strohl failed to get through the rain and splashes of the opening phase after inspiring hope in the final training session.
Nicholas Latifi finished a miserable afternoon for the Canadian drivers in 19th place, although the Williams driver will rise one position after the downgrade of Leclerc.
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