Verstappen takes pole in Canada in wet Qualifying

Ahead of Hülkenberg and Alonso


By Franck Drui

17 June 2023 - 23:22
Verstappen takes pole in Canada in (...)

Max Verstappen took his fifth pole of the season in tricky, rapidly changing wet, dry and wet again conditions in Montréal as Haas’ Nico Hülkenberg scored a surprise front row finish for Haas. It’s the German’s best Qualifying position since he scored pole at the 2010 Brazilian Grand Prix in wet conditions. Hülkenberg will start ahead of third-place Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso.

“in the wet, you have to just stay on top of all the conditions,” said Verstappen. “And it was super slippery out there in some places. But we just made all the right calls at the right time on the track, you know, to do the lap times. And of course, we’re happy to be on pole here.”

The opening segment got underway on a damp track with all drivers taking to the track on intermediate tyres. However, running was halted after three minutes when Alfa Romeo’s Guanyu Zhou stopped at the side of the track reporting a loss of power. He was eventually able to get moving again and limped back to the pit lane under red flags.

After a seven-minute delay the session resumed and Verstappen led the field out. He stopped the clock at 1:24.106 before improving to 1:22.843. Alonso then stole top spot just under two tenths clear of the Dutchman, with McLaren’s Lando Norris in third. Verstappen went for another lap, however, and he retook P1 with a lap of 1:21.988 as Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc moved to third behind Alonso and the Red Bull driver then improved again, setting purple times in the first and third sectors to log a time of 1:21.739.

The track was rapidly improving, and after Williams’ Alex Albon had jumped to fifth, Alonso took top spot, almost two tenths clear of Verstappen. The Dutchman wouldn’t be denied, however, and after setting segment best times in all three sectors he ended Q1 on top with a time of 1:20.851, six tenths clear of Alonso, with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton third ahead of team-mate George Russell, Leclerc and Albon.

Out at the end of Q1 were AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda in P16, followed by Alpine’s Pierre Gasly, the second AlphaTauri of Nyck de Vries, Williams’ Logan Sargent and Zhou.

Keen to make the most of a drying track ahead of expected rain, Verstapenn was at the head of the queue at the start of Q2 and on Inters the Dutchman established the benchmark at 1:20.135.

Mercedes’ George Russell then took top spot with a lap of 1:20.098 as Verstappen pitted for slicks. Albon had also taken on softs and he was the first to exploit their better performance, jumping to P1 with a lap of 1:19.471 and then improving to 1:18.725. Alonso slotted into P2 also on slicks while McLaren’s Lando Norris moved to P3 on softs with a lap of 1:19.888. With rain beginning to fall, Verstappen moved up to P2 on softs with a lap of 1:19.052.

Further back other were struggling. Leclerc and Red Bull’s Sergio Pérez both made the move to slciks but neither chose the perfect moment and as the rain intensified there was no way back for either, Leclerc bowing out in P11 just ahead of Pérez. Also out at the end of Q2 were P13 man Lance Stroll, Haas’ Kevin Magnussen and Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas.

With steady rain falling across the Île Notre-Dame ahead of Q3, Verstappen again headed the queue at the end of the pit lane for the start of the top-10 shootout. And despite some nervous moments on his opening flyer the Dutchman posted a lap of 1:27.059.

In worsening conditions, the Dutchman somehow managed to find more grip and more pace and with his next flying lap he took over a second out of his opener with a lap of 1:25.858, a full 1.2 seconds ahead of P2 man Nico Hülkenberg of Haas, with Alonso third.

The session was then red-flagged. Oscar Piastri lost control of his McLaren at the exit of Turn 7 and slid backwards into the wall. After another seven-minute delay the session resumed, with seven minutes on the clock. The rain was intensifying, however, and when the green light came on and the drivers filed out onto the track, Verstappen was soon on the radio reporting that it was “a lot wetter already”.

He immediately headed back to the pit lane and when Sainz’s engineer told him even heavier rain was about to arrive it was clear that any improvement was out of the question and pole, number five for the season, belonged to Max.

Hülkenberg took his first front row grid spot since he claimed pole at a sodden Interlagos in 2010, while Alonso qualified third alongside Hamilton. Russell finished fifth on the timesheet ahead of Alpine’s Esteban Ocon, Norris and Sainz. Piastri qualified in ninth position and Albon was tenth.

Pos.DriverTeamQ1 timeQ2 timeQ3 time
01 Max Verstappen Red Bull Honda RBPT RB19 1:20.851 1:19.092 1:25.858
02 Nico Hülkenberg Haas Ferrari VF-23 1:22.730 1.20.305 1:27.102
03 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin Mercedes AMR23 1:21.481 1:19.776 1:27.288
04 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W14 1:21.554 1:20.426 1:27.627
05 George Russell Mercedes W14 1:21.789 1:20.098 1:27.893
06 Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault A523 1:22.114 1:20.406 1:27.945
07 Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes MCL60 1:21.998 1:19.347 1:28.046
08 Carlos Sainz Ferrari SF-23 1:22.248 1:19.856 1:29.294
09 Oscar Piastri McLaren Mercedes MCL60 1:22.190 1:19.659 1:31.349
10 Alex Albon Williams Mercedes FW45 1:21.938 1:18.725 -:—.---
---------------- --------------- ---------- ---------- ----------
11 Charles Leclerc Ferrari SF-23 1:21.843 1:20.615
12 Sergio Pérez Red Bull Honda RBPT RB19 1:22.151 1:20.959
13 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Mercedes AMR23 1:22.677 1:21.484
14 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari VF-23 1:22.351 1.21.678
15 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Ferrari C43 1:22.332 1:21.821
---------------- --------------- ---------- ---------- ----------
16 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri Honda RBPT AT04 1:22.746
17 Pierre Gasly Alpine Renault A523 1:22.886
18 Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri Honda RBPT AT04 1:23.137
19 Logan Sargeant Williams Mercedes FW45 1:23.337
20 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo Ferrari C43 1:23.342

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