The Saturday in F1 Canadian GP was dry despite rain threat and qualifying went bonkers with the margin of pole and big names dropping out.

While everyone expected rain to hinder F1 Canadian GP qualifying in Montreal, but it stayed away to give a dry running all-through albeit still tricky conditions to tackle. With rain expectation, the teams and drivers were in two minds about their run plan.

To go with it, the tyre decision was crucial too. But it threw quite the F1 qualifying session where the pole-sitter took pole by setting his lap time before his challenger after both Mercedes’ George Russell and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen set a 1m12.000s time.

Russell was the first to do so to secure F1 Canadian GP pole as Verstappen had to settle for P2. The last time it happened was in Jerez in 1997 involving Michael Schumacher, Jacques Villeneuve and Heinz-Harald Frentzen, where the Canadian took pole.

While Mercedes looked quick all-through, it wasn’t the same for Verstappen. Their teammates did falter with Lewis Hamilton losing grip in qualifying, while Sergio Perez was knocked out in Q1 again after struggling to find rear grip.

The Mexican was the only one to falter as both the Ferrari F1 cars were out in Q2 with Charles Leclerc 11th and Carlos Sainz 12th. They complained of lack of pace in FP3 which continued in qualifying which did surprise them to be out so early.

Their loss helped both the Aston Martin through into Q3 in a good show along with McLaren pair, who continued their consistent run with both the cars unlike their rivals who have had dips. They also had set of other midfield F1 teams into the Top 10.

Russell: “Such a buzz. We’ve been so fast all weekend. Q3 was probably our worst session of the three. The conditions were changing. I think we were one of the last to do our laps, I don’t know when Max did his lap, but my lap in Q2 was really, really strong. My first lap in Q3 was really good, only, I think, two tenths off what I did in Q2, on the old tyre. So I was expecting to do, you know, probably three or four tenths ahead, like it’s been all weekend. And the tyres just didn’t quite feel right. So, you know, it shows how sensitive everything was. And that was probably the first time that it didn’t quite go our way. But as I said, it goes to show how strong our pace has been this weekend.

“You know, Q1, we didn’t need to use two sets of tyres. That was a first. Didn’t really need to use two sets in Q2 either. You know, it’s sort of come from nowhere, but maybe not a surprise with the upgrades we’ve been bringing. This morning Lewis was absolutely flying and he was well ahead of me. I had to look a lot into his data to try to understand what he was doing differently. And, to be honest, that helped me a huge amount. So ahead of this qualifying, I’m just so glad that we could pull it off, because I feel like we really deserve all of this hard work we’ve been putting in, and the car has been feeling awesome this weekend.

“I think it’s going to be a tough race for everybody, to be honest. Graining seems to be an issue. And this new track surface, nobody really knows how it’s going to pan out. But we’ve got to go for victory. The car is genuinely really, really fast at the moment. But it’s going to be a long race, I think. As soon as you fall off that cliff of the tyres tomorrow, it’s going to be really difficult to recover. So, yeah, it could be a bit of a strategic game. Maybe not as extreme as we saw in Monaco last week, but maybe something similar.”

Verstappen: “I mean, in general, I think it wasn’t a bad qualifying. I think what was mentioned before, probably Q3, was the weakest of the sessions for Mercedes. So, you know, being on the exact same lap time, yeah, it’s great, but in hindsight, I think when you look at their pure pace, I’ll take second. Because after Q2, I saw their lap times, I was like, ‘there is no way that I can do something like that’. Then, of course, there was a little bit of rain in between, like a few spits here and there. But, yeah, I mean… I think overall, just the weekend was again a bit messy from our side, just too many little issues. And then, yeah, from there onwards, we tried to, of course, find the best possible balance with the car.

“I think we did get a decent balance in qualifying. I was quite happy with it. But, yeah, we need to be able to just have cleaner weekends without issues. And I think that will help a bit as well. We’re still struggling with the same things, but of course, the track layout helps compared to Monaco, where Monaco has a lot more low-speed, so it’s really important to have good ride, mechanical grip. Here, of course, there’s more aero involved. Of course, there are a few places still where you need to ride kerbs or you have bumpy places, but we know those limitations, so we need to just work on that. But that’s why I think in general, to be P2 here is alright.”

Norris: “I mean, I could be in Max’s position and not be on pole, but done a quick enough lap time. So I’m happy. Honestly, I’m happy with third. It’s so close. So to be this close with a lap that I didn’t think… It was good, but not incredible. And I know George said he didn’t get the most out of it, that kind of thing. Just difficult conditions, difficult track layout and challenging, which is kind of what makes Montreal what it is, and definitely probably a bit harder this year than what it’s been in the past, but still rewarding to come out with a P3, even if we were only two hundredths off pole. I mean, we’ve had great race pace the last few races. So I’m going to have to say yes. I think we’re in the fight.

“It’s so close. But you know, George has been the favourite all weekend. So they’ve been very quick. Mercedes has been very quick. And George has done a great job coming into qualifying. So you would say on paper they look like they have… They’re a bit more comfortable with where they are, you know, from the first run that they’ve been pretty much at the top of the time sheets and we necessarily haven’t. And we’ve kind of progressed through the weekend a little bit more. But Sunday is always a day we’ve performed very well, like I said, over the last couple of months. So if we can do the same again tomorrow, then I’m excited to see what race we can put on.”

Leclerc: “Well, we are just not fast enough and unfortunately, that’s it. I mean, in FP3 we were nowhere on the dry, in qualifying we were nowhere on the dry as well. I don’t have any explanations for now. In FP3 already we felt that something was wrong, we couldn’t see what was wrong and that was exactly the same in qualifying where it definitely felt like something was wrong but nothing we could see was wrong. The grip was just extremely poor in the first sector especially, and then once you slide in the first sector it’s a snowball effect and you never really get the performance out of the car. Very surprising. I did not expect that and it’s obviously disappointing but we’ve got a race tomorrow. I believe that in the race the issues that we have had in qualifying will be a bit different.”

Sainz: “I think right now, I can just tell you we are lacking grip and our ride doesn’t look as good as it did in Monaco. For these two reasons, lack of grip, warm-up, ride, everything around Canada seems trickier than Monaco. We are a bit surprised, everyone knows, because since FP3 really we saw we were slow and this weekend was going to be a tough one, and you never expect to go from fighting for a win and pole position to being out in Q2, but this is Formula 1. I’ve seen worse things happen and we will go back and analyse why we’re struggling around here.”

Perez: “It was a massive frustration. It was a session where everything reset with the weather. We just couldn’t get everything to work, especially the rear axle. I think it was a very strange session for a lot of cars out there. We did struggle quite a lot with the rear end, so I think we got to understand what the reason behind it was. I think the track being so green it really reset things up but I was struggling to put the temperature into the tyre and I think that was the main struggle. I think in hindsight we could have done things better but fundamentally the car was lacking pace. We’ve got some bits to understand tomorrow and we are able to secure a couple of points, that will be a good result and then really just go from there. Deficiently, we are hoping to come through it in the race, we just need to understand the issue and really go from there.

Hamilton: “The car’s been feeling great and congrats to George, had plenty of pace in FP3 and then since qualifying started, the grip was just not there. The conditions were great, it was just for some reason the tyres were not working throughout the session, I just didn’t have grip. I had like easily half a second advantage in FP3 and that was gone. I definitively did not [expect the pace to be this good]. It just not about the fronts [with the updates], it is just the corner balance is much better.”

Alonso: “It was a very unpredictable Qualifying session with the constant threat of rain lingering, but I think we have to be happy with both cars in Q3 in these conditions. After the last two events I was out in Q1, so starting in sixth position gives us a good chance of scoring points tomorrow. I don’t think I did a perfect lap in Q3 and when you see at the end that I was only two tenths from pole position it hurts a little bit. In general the car has felt a little better this weekend and tomorrow we will see how we manage the tyres and pace as we haven’t had a lot of long runs in the dry. If it rains tomorrow, it could be decided by fine margins and who switches the tyres at the right time, so we have to be prepared for everything.”

The gain was for both the Visa Cash App RB cars as Daniel Ricciardo smashed himself to P5 with a response for Villeneuve too after the session. His teammate Yuki Tsunoda continued his upswing after earning another contract for 2025 F1 season.

Williams also progressed well with Alexander Albon finally making it inside the Top 10 and Logan Sargeant missing out in 13th just behind the Ferrari cars. It was mixed run for Haas and Alpine, while Stake F1 Team were knocked out in Q1 itself.

Nico Hulkenberg had issues with his rear wing to be only 19th when Kevin Magnussen made it in Q2, while Esteban Ocon carried extra weight unlike Pierre Gasly. For Stake, it was simple lack of one-lap pace, with limited running for Zhou Guanyu too.

Ricciardo: “I still don’t know what he said, I heard he has been talking shit, but he always does. I think he has hit his head a few too many times. I don’t know if he plays ice hockey or something, anyway, I won’t give him the time of day. All those people can suck it. I want to say more but we will leave him behind. It is two parts, from when we put it down yesterday, FP1 not so much but FP2 we did some running, I just had confidence in it, the car felt good. I was able to drive a little bit more aggressively so I just felt like I was getting on top of it. I felt like the car was good. We’re always going to be trying to perfect the car but I also have to look at myself and make sure that I’m in a good place to be able to do results like this. It’s obviously been a bit harder for me to find that sweet spot this year and I look back at 10 years ago, I think it was kind of effortless.

“I’m very pleased about today. It’s been a really good weekend, a lot of fun, and one of those ones where everything’s just feeling good. We are less than two-tenths from pole, and even if it’s not today’s case, sometimes this means being on the front row, so it’s nice being competitive and feeling comfortable in the car. In Q3 it was very important to have a fast warm-up lap and this is what I told the team. I did it and then had the right confidence for the push lap. It was nice to put the lap together, but I’m not surprised, I know when I feel like this, I can do these things. I’m happy that I was able to get it out of myself, but happy and credit to the team, both cars going into Q3 and happy to reward them with a very nice result.”

Albon: “A frustrating Saturday. We did a small set-up change before Qualifying and the car felt good from the get-go. We had strong pace in Q1 and Q2, but we tried a different run-plan in Q3 which didn’t work out for us. The shower of rain between sessions dropped the track temperature and we struggled to warm up the tyres, compromising our final Q3 attempt. Tomorrow will be challenging with two Ferraris behind, but equally I think we have a race in front of us with the Aston Martins and RBs. Overall, it’s positive to have two Q3 appearances in a row and I think rain tomorrow will create some good opportunities for us.”

Ocon: “It was a super tight session out there today and we did not do enough to get through to Q2 in Qualifying this afternoon. Unfortunately, I lost a tenth in Turn 6 and 7 with another driver in front quite close, and the start of my lap was also compromised picking up dirt after moving off-line during my prep lap. It’s been a couple of events that my car is quite a lot heavier than Pierre’s. We will rotate fairly in the year, that is very clear. But since Miami, that is the case. When all these things add up it makes it difficult, basically, to go through Q1. We will try to do the best we can and hopefully it is going to be a clean race, where we can optimise the strategy and move closer to the points. It is going to be tough but we will do our best.”

Hulkenberg: “I think we went out a bit late, we changed the rear wing going into qualifying because I haven’t been happy with the car all weekend and I had a problem with the rear wing where it wasn’t performing as it should, so we decided to change it before qualifying. That meant our entire run plan got out of sequence a bit, so we were on the back foot with timings, and it got busy and hectic. Towards the end I also had someone impeding, parked at the last chicane, so all together it made it a bit difficult.”

Guanyu: “Today was quite tricky – coming into qualifying without preparation on dry laps is never easy. During the morning session, I had a moment that ended FP3 early for me, and while I was able to gain more and more time on every qualifying lap, it wasn’t enough to catch up on my missed session. The field is still very close, and I reckon we’re not far off our competition but, given the lack of running, I wasn’t able to find the perfect rhythm. Tomorrow is a new day, and we’ll continue working to make up some ground. This is a place where overtaking is possible, and we’ll give it a good go.”

Here’s how F1 Canadian GP qualifying panned out

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