George Russell pips Verstappen to pole ahead of Canadian GP

George Russell has taken pole position for the Canadian Grand Prix in an impressive session for the Mercedes driver, with the Briton beating Max Verstappen despite the Dutchman incredibly setting the exact same lap time.

Russell had provisionally secured P1 following the initial runs in Q3 with a lap of 1:12.000s and, while Verstappen improved on his own effort in the decisive final laps, the Red Bull man could only equal Russell’s time, putting him in P2.

Lando Norris was just 0.021s adrift in third place for McLaren, with team mate Oscar Piastri sharing the second row in fourth ahead of an impressive Daniel Ricciardo in fifth for RB, 10 years on from his debut F1 victory at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve.

Fernando Alonso took P6 in the Aston Martin, while Lewis Hamilton ended the session in P7 despite earlier displaying strong pace in the Mercedes. Yuki Tsunoda – whose seat at RB in 2025 was confirmed just ahead of qualifying – claimed P8, while Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll and the Williams of Alex Albon rounded out the top-10.

It was a tough day for Ferrari, with both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz failing to make it past Q2. The Scuderia pair will line up in P11 and P12 respectively, just two weeks after sharing the podium in Monaco.

Logan Sargeant enjoyed his best qualifying performance of the year by claiming 13th in the Williams, ahead of the Haas of Kevin Magnussen in 14th and Alpine’s Pierre Gasly in 15th.

There was a further shock in Q1 when Sergio Perez was pushed into the elimination zone in P16, marking the second consecutive weekend where the Red Bull driver has failed to progress beyond the first segment of qualifying.

Sergio Perez made back to back Q1 exits for Red Bull.

Also eliminated were Kick Sauber’s Valtteri Bottas in P17 and the Alpine of Esteban Ocon – who will take a five-place grid penalty following his clash with team mate Gasly in Monaco – in P18, while the Haas of Nico Hulkenberg and the Kick Sauber of Zhou Guanyu exited in P19 and P20 respectively.

Q1

After limited running in Friday’s rain-affected practice sessions, followed by a busy hour in dry conditions earlier on Saturday, all attentions turned to what the weather might have in store for qualifying at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve.

While there had been a brief shower in the run-up to the session, the action got under way in the dry. However, alongside the lack of mileage on Friday, there were many unknowns as Q1 kicked off, with a lingering chance of further rain remaining.

Given the threat of more showers, it was a busy start to the session as everyone looked to put a lap on the board. The names at the top of the timesheets – and in the elimination zone – continued to change rapidly as the track rubbered in.

Verstappen put himself in P1 as the segment headed towards its halfway point with a time of 1:13.368s, while Stroll had a lucky escape after making contact with the Wall of Champions, having avoided any significant damage to his Aston Martin.

Traffic soon became an issue, with Piastri complaining of being impeded as he tried to move himself out of danger in P16. Some other big names were also at risk, including Perez, as the session headed into its final five minutes.

Ocon will serve a five-place grid penalty following his clash with Gasly in Monaco.

Gasly caught the eye by hauling himself out of the elimination zone and into P3, before being pushed down the order as others put their flying laps in. Piastri, however, was continuing to struggle to make ground, while Verstappen reported issues with his downshifts.

It was all to play for as everyone tried to avoid danger in the dying moments of the session. Perez – who had been down in P20 – only managed to get himself into P12, putting him at risk as more times came in.

As Verstappen went fastest of all and Tsunoda slotted into P2, Albon impressively surged up to fourth and – as others continued to improve – this ultimately pushed Perez out of Q1 in 16th place, resulting in a frustrated reaction from the Mexican.

Bottas also found himself out of the running in P17 for Kick Sauber, while Ocon – who will take a five-place grid penalty following his collision with Gasly last time out in Monaco – ended the session down in P18.

Hulkenberg was a surprise elimination in P19 for Haas, given his previous good form at the track, while the Kick Sauber of Zhou brought up the rear in P20.

Knocked out: Perez, Bottas, Ocon, Hulkenberg, Zhou

Q2

Despite victory in Monaco Ferrari failed to reach Q3.

The rain had started to return as Q2 began, with Russell leading team mate Hamilton out. After some initial banker laps, the former put himself at the top of the timesheets with a lap of 1:12.323s.

Verstappen, meanwhile, was unhappy with the traffic on track as he tried to improve from P11, and there were problems for Albon in the pits, with Williams having to check the car due to a cross-threaded wheel nut.

There was a big moment for Russell after narrowly avoiding the wall at Turn 4, while others looked to get themselves into the top-10 shootout – an increasingly urgent task given the likelihood of rain in the final moments.

Verstappen was one of those at risk before going up to fifth as the Mercedes pair slotted into P1 and P2, but the Ferrari duo were still in danger. As the chequered flag fell, Leclerc was not on a lap and ended up pushed out in P11.

Sainz also failed to improve and joined his team mate in a surprise double exit for the Scuderia, with the Spaniard finishing the session in 12th. Also eliminated were Sargeant, Magnussen and Gasly in 13th, 14th and 15th respectively.

Knocked out: Leclerc, Sainz, Sargeant, Magnussen, Gasly

Q3

Russell celebrates after clinching pole.

With no further rain as Q3 got under way, the field headed out on used soft tyres for their initial runs. Mercedes were the last to join the action but made an impression when they did head out, with Russell going fastest from Hamilton as he posted a time of 1:2.000s.

Verstappen was pushed down to third by the Silver Arrows, ahead of Piastri, Alonso and Stroll. Replays showed Hamilton had just avoided contact with the Wall of Champions, before attentions turned to the decisive final laps.

McLaren opted to send Norris and Piastri out early, resulting in the pair slotting into second and third respectively. The rest of the pack soon headed out for their decisive runs and, while many struggled to improve, Verstappen bettered his early time.

Incredibly, the Dutchman equalled Russell’s lap of 1:12.000s but, with Russell having put his effort in first, it was the Briton who claimed pole position. Norris was pushed down to third, ahead of Piastri in fourth, while Ricciardo enjoyed a notable qualifying by taking P5.

Alonso was the lead Aston Martin in sixth, while Hamilton seemed to slip back following his earlier pace, ending the session in seventh. Tsunoda took eighth just hours after his continuation as an RB driver into 2025 was announced, and Stroll and Albon rounded out the top-10.

With the grid set, drivers and teams will turn their attention to Sunday’s 70-lap Canadian Grand Prix, which is set to begin at 14:00 local time (19:00 GMT). Can Russell convert pole position into a rare win for Mercedes in this era of regulations or will Verstappen clinch victory once more?


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