Verstappen on pole as Hulkenberg secures front row start

A rain-affected qualifying at Canada throws up some surprises

MONTREAL, QUEBEC - JUNE 17: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB19 on track during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Canada at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on June 17, 2023 in Montreal, Quebec. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202306170692 // Usage for editorial use only //

Max Verstappen will start tomorrow’s Canadian Grand Prix from pole position after setting the pace in a wet qualifying at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

With the rain falling heavier as Q3 progressed, the timing of a red flag played into the hands of Nico Hulkenberg, who’ll start alongside the reigning champion on the front row, while Fernando Alonso completes the top three.

Qualifying had barely begun when there was a red flag as Guanyu Zhou’s Alfa Romeo ground to a halt on the track with a power issue.

He managed to get the car going again and took part in the rest of the session, but the pace wasn’t there, leaving him at the back of the grid for tomorrow’s race.

On a drying track in Q1, everyone wanted to be last over the line before the chequered flag fell, resulting in traffic in the final corner, which cost Pierre Gasly the chance to improve his time.

The track was briefly dry enough for slicks in Q2, but Sergio Perez was late to make the change, and as the rain started to fall again he wasn’t able to capitalise on the best of the track conditions, costing him a spot in Q3.

Oscar Piastri’s hopes were dealt a blow when he spun in Q3, colliding with the barrier and bringing out the second red flag of qualifying, hindering Alonso and Piastri’s teammate Lando Norris, who both seemed to be on faster laps when the session was stopped.

While the session did resume, the conditions had worsened as the rain continued to get heavier, preventing the drivers from going faster in the final minutes of qualifying.

Provisional qualifying result:

1 Max Verstappen (Red Bull)

2. Nico Hulkenberg (Haas)

3. Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin)

4. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

5. George Russell (Mercedes)

6. Esteban Ocon (Alpine)

7. Lando Norris (McLaren)

8. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)

9. Oscar Piastri (McLaren)

10. Alex Albon (Williams)

11. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)

12. Sergio Perez (Red Bull)

13. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)

14. Kevin Magnussen (Haas)

15. Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo)

16. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri)

17. Pierre Gasly (Alpine)

18. Nyck DeVries (AlphaTauri)

19. Logan Sargeant (Williams)

20. Guanyu Zhou (Alfa Romeo)

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