F1 Canadian Grand Prix: Max Verstappen takes pole in dramatic qualifying session

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F1 Canadian Grand Prix: Max Verstappen takes pole in dramatic qualifying session
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Max Verstappen dominated qualifying for the Canadian Grand Prix to take a comfortable pole for Sunday’s race.

The defending world champion looked a class apart in wet conditions to be a second clear of the chasing pack for much of the session as a 40-year-old Fernando Alonso qualified alongside him on the front row for the first time in 10 years.

A wobble by Carlos Sainz coming out of the final corner cost him his place on the front row instead of countryman Alonso with teammate Charles Leclerc already consigned to the back of the grid for the race start after being penalised for another power unit change.

Lewis Hamilton qualified fourth as teammate George Russell took an almighty gamble on a drying track to be the only man to go on slicks for the final minutes of qualifying. The decision ended with him skidding into the barriers and having to make do with 10th fastest.

After his pole, Verstappen said: “Today with the tricky conditions, we stayed calm and didn’t make mistakes so super happy to get pole.

It proved contrasting fortunes in the Red Bull garage as Sergio Perez skidded off in sector one of the second qualifying session and hit the barrier. Despite limited damage, he was unable to reverse back onto the track.

As the track dried, lap times sped up by 12 seconds from Q1 to Q3 but it was still 11seconds slower than Sebastian Vettel’s lap record at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

Qualifying was preceded by a testy meeting of team bosses regarding the FIA’s technical directive to address porpoising and Mercedes’ initial response to add a second stay to Russell’s floor. They removed it after threats of protests from their rivals and Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff reacted angrily in front of his fellow team principals.

Aston Martin were left to ponder what might have been after both Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll failed to make it out of Q1.

Vettel had threatened to break up the hegemony of the top two in Ferrari and Red Bull having proved so strong in the preceding practice session, while Stroll usually relishes the wet conditions.

But four-time world champion Vettel complained the car was “so different” come qualifying and that he “had no grip”.

As most of the grid switched to intermediates by Q2, two drivers went off in quick succession. First, Alex Albon nudged into a barrier but was able to reverse and return to the track before Perez went straight into the barrier. It brought with it a red flag with nine minutes left of the session.

When the session resumed, Norris complained of issues with his power unit misfiring and briefly made it back out on track only be called back to the pits before setting a time.

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