MONTREAL – Max Verstappen of Red Bull took pole position for Sunday’s Canadian Grand Prix in a wet qualifying battle against the elements.
The leader and winner of the Formula One championship in Baku, Azerbaijan, last weekend recorded a time of one minute 21,299 seconds in what he called difficult conditions.
Fernando Alonso of Alpine finished second with a time of 1: 21.944 in his last lap, while Carlos Sainz of Ferrari was third (1: 22.096).
Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton climbed to fourth with his last lap.
His Mercedes teammate George Russell paid the price for switching to soft tires as he slid off the track and onto the grass at turn 2, which was one of the most slippery areas on the track. Russell finished eighth.
The wet conditions also proved expensive for Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, who was ready for the day when he locked up and sailed straight into the wall between turns 2 and 3.
Perez, who started Sunday the 13th, had to climb through some bushes as he returned to the pits outside the track walls.
Alexander Albon of Williams similarly slid into the wall at turn 6, but still made a cut in the second session.
Conditions were miserable, with heavy rain, strong winds and a cold 12 C at the beginning.
High-performance tires make visibility difficult. It was hard to even tell one pilot from another as they splashed along the finish line.
“I don’t see much in front of me,” Hamilton said at the start of qualifying.
The rain subsided and conditions improved significantly late in the second of the three qualifying sessions. A dry section of the track appeared for drivers to follow.
In Sunday’s race, Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc, who won his fourth consecutive pole in Baku last week, will start 19th in the grid due to a 10-seat penalty after a change of engine.
Alonso recorded the fastest lap time in such a wet training session two hours before qualifying.
Sunshine and 20 degrees are forecast for Sunday’s race.
Lance Stroll of Montreal, who is known to perform well in bad weather, was 18th in his Aston Martin, one place better than last week. Nicholas Latifi of Toronto (Williams) was 19th.
The Canadian Grand Prix returns triumphantly to Gilles Villeneuve after COVID-19 forced its abolition in both 2020 and 2021.
Unfortunately for the sea of fans in pants and huddled under umbrellas on Saturday, the weather was not so festive this week.
A storm arose moments after Friday’s practice, forcing fans to fight for cover.