Canadian GP 2023
JUNE 17, 2023
Qualifying Report - Verstappen takes 25th pole
By Peter Habicht
Max Verstappen won pole position in his Red Bull-Honda in a mostly wet qualifying session at the Canadian Grand Prix with a lap of 1m25.850.
Qualifying second was Nico Hulkenberg who set a time of 1m27.102s in the Haas-Ferrari, but was later given a 3-place grid penalty following the session for failing to stay above the minimum time set by the FIA ECU during the red flag stop in Q3.
Fernando Alonso set the third fastest time at 1m27.286s in his Aston Martin-Mercedes.
Qualifying began under grey skies and a dry line forming around the circuit in Q1 with teams opting for Intermediate tires, but a drive problem with Guanyu Zhou’s Alfa Romeo-Ferrari brought out the red flag in the opening moments until the Chinese driver was able to bring the car back under its own power. The field returned to the circuit on Intermediate tires with plenty of spray while teams kept an eye on the horizon for more rain as the dry line began to take a toll on tires.
As drivers switched to fresh Intermediate tires, traffic became an issue as Alpine’s Pierre Gasly on a hot lap approached Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz on the racing line in the closing moments of the Q1. Gasly was on pace for sixth but was forced to abort his lap, placing him 17th between the AlphaTauris of Yuki Tsunoda and Nyck de Vries and ahead of the Williams of Logan Sargeant and the Zhou.
With rain expected in Q2 and the circuit continuing to dry, Williams’ Alex Albon was the first to switch to dry tires and set a quickest lap on softs, where he remained for Q2. As rain arrived and the circuit began to favor the intermediate tires again Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Red Bull’s Sergio Perez were unable to make it through the dry tire window and struggled with intermediate tires. Leclerc was noticeably angry at the situation, and with no timed laps remaining, Perez fought to make up over half a second on intermediate tires but was unable to make it through. The two drivers finished ahed of Aston’s Lance Stroll in 13th, Kevin Magnussen and Alfa’s Valtteri Bottas.
The start of Q3 saw more rain inbound, and Verstappen was first out first on track with intermediate tires. He produced a frantic lap around the circuit, sliding and controlling the car with ease. It would prove to be the critical strategic advantage as conditions deteriorated around the circuit with increasing rain.
With the field now back to intermediate tires and rain increasing, Oscar Piastri lost control of his McLaren around turns seven and eight, hitting the wall and bringing out the red flag with just over seven minutes left in the session. Hulkenberg managed to bank the round’s second fastest time just prior.
Aston’s Fernando Alonso was third quickest, followed by the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, the Alpine-Renault of Esteban Ocon and the McLaren of Lando Norris. Sainz had the eighth fastest time and will face a three grid penalty tomorrow for impeding Gasly.
Alex Albon did not continue after the Australian’s crash, relegating him to the tenth fastest time.
Tomorrow’s race begins at 2p local time with dry weather forecast.