Red Bull’s Max Verstappen finished first in a wet qualifying session at the Canadian Grand Prix, while Alpine’s Fernando Alonso took a surprising second place.
Verstappen was in control throughout the session as he started the track wet and gradually dried to finish 0.645secs before the field.
Alonso snatched his first front row position since taking pole position in a Ferrari at the 2012 German Grand Prix.
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz was third, ahead of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.
Verstappen’s title rival, Charles Leclerc, qualified 15th after not driving in the second session due to a penalty for using too many drivetrain components, which means he will start from the back of the grid.
Mercedes’ second driver George Russell drove Hamilton through qualifying until he turned into dry weather in the final heat and fell to eighth.
Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher shined for fifth and sixth, thus the best qualifying result for Haas so far.
Alpine driver Esteban Ocon, McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo and Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Gagno were in the top ten.
There was an impressive performance by Thai-born British Alex Albon at Williams in 12th place. McLaren’s Lando Norris finished 14th after an engine problem prevented him from setting a lap in the second part of qualifying.
Evergreen Alonso rolls back the years
It was a class master of Verstappen, who showed up in his own league every time he made a lap during the session.
From pole position, he now has a unique opportunity to inflict the most damage on Leclerc in the championship as Ferrari’s dismal run continues after swinging 80 points in favor of Verstappen’s championship over the past five races.
“I still assume it won’t be an easy race,” Verstappen said. “But today, in difficult circumstances, we remained calm and did not make any mistakes,” he added.
While at Red Bull Verstappen was looking to be strong up front throughout, his teammate Sergio Perez performed less well and crashed in the second session, finishing 13th.
But while Verstappen was hugely impressive in the wet, as always, the qualifying star was arguably Alonso, who looked quick all weekend, wet or dry, going on at 40 to prove that age hasn’t tarnished his talent – as He has always insisted since returning to F1 early last year.
Alonso was fast in dry practice on Friday and held up his form after a rain on Circuit Gilles Villeneuve earlier in the weekend, alpine dancing around the track and taking it out of the last corner apparently for fun – teammate Ocon qualified by 1.585sec .
“We were P1 in FP3 this morning so it looked like we were quick in the humidity but at the end it wasn’t really wet, it was almost dry,” Alonso said. “But the car was quick today in the dry and in the wet, so it was a very competitive weekend.”
Russell had outlasted Hamilton in three races in a row and looked like he would be in the fourth so the youngster would risk the track could be ready on slick tires in final qualifying.
The risk didn’t pay off—Russell went too far into the second turn on his first try, hit a wheel on the painted exit line of the pit and got into a slow turn. He tried again but his first field was 10 seconds behind and the match was over.
Hamilton, who spent the week treating his back after suffering severely from the impact of Mercedes in a row at last weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix, said: “Last week was a real challenge and every single day, it was to manage the pain and get my body right.
“We’re still struggling with the car so it’s great to get the top four in these conditions.
“It’s my best qualifying session this season and it feels similar to my first qualifying session in Australia in 2007, I was so excited.”