Max Verstappen overcame slick conditions to win his second pole of the season, and Fernando Alonso used the wet track to earn his first front-row start in almost a decade in rainy qualifying for the Canadian Grand Prix.
The Sunday run for Verstappen, the reigning Formula 1 champion and current points leader, was no surprise even though it’s the Dutchman’s first career pole at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
Instead, it was 40-year-old Alonso who brought the crowd to its feet with a thrilling lap to qualify second. He jumped ahead of Carlos Sainz and Lewis Hamilton as time expired and drew a rousing ovation from the rain-soaked spectators.
“It is an unbelievable weekend so far for us,” the Alpine driver said.
“The car was mega. I was so comfortable driving this car, and the fans pushed me to make an extra push.”
But can the dual title holder convert it into his first race victory since 2013 on Monday, when weather conditions are expected to be greatly improved and the track dry?
“I think we’ll attack Max in the first corner,” the Spaniard smiled.
He later added he’d be content finishing fifth.
Leclerc has already been handed a 10-place grid penalty for changing his engine. He was 15th overall but will start at the back of the grid alongside Yuki Tsunoda, who also changed an engine.
Hamilton qualified a season-best fourth as he recovered from one of the worst practice days of the year in his Mercedes. A technical directive issued by the FIA to help alleviate the bouncing that Mercedes and other cars are fighting this season made the practice sessions more difficult for Hamilton, who has been suffering from both back pain and headaches because of porpoising.
“It’s very enjoyable in these conditions. It’s not just one lap,” Magnussen said.
“Days like this is what makes you happy and makes you smile.”
George Russell of Mercedes crashed in the final qualifying group and was eighth, while Zhou Guanyu was 10th as he advanced to the third round for the first time in his career.
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