Russell edges out Verstappen to take Canada pole


George Russell took Mercedes’ first pole position of the season ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen at the Canadian Grand Prix.

Russell and Verstappen set identical lap times of one minute, 12 seconds, but because the Briton banked his first he will start the race from first place.

Lewis Hamilton could manage only seventh in the second Mercedes as Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri locked out the second row for McLaren.

Ferrari failed to get either car into the top 10, Charles Leclerc 11th after winning last time out in Monaco, with team-mate Carlos Sainz 12th.

The second Red Bull driver Sergio Perez was knocked out in the first session for the second consecutive race – the last time he was in the top 10 on the grid was three races ago in Miami.

Russell’s pole seemed to come out of the blue, after a difficult start to the 2024 season, but in fact is the cumulation of a series of upgrades that have been put on the car over the past four races.

The cream on the top was a new front wing introduced in Monaco, where only Russell had it before both cars used it in Montreal.

Russell, whose last pole was at the 2022 Hungarian Grand Prix, said: “Amazing. It feels so good. So much hard work back at the factory has gone into this. We said in Monaco that we hoped this was the start of something for our season and I think it is.

(Image: F1 Facebook)

“The car has been feeling amazing since we brought some upgrades to Monaco. We have really been in that fight. Let’s go for it tomorrow.”

Verstappen said: “It’s how it is. We had a good qualifying. The whole weekend has been still a bit tricky for us but to be P2, I take it. Going into qualifying I would have definitely taken that. It makes it more exciting for the race as well.”

Mercedes actually lost pace in the final session – their lap times in the second part of qualifying were even faster. Russell was 0.258secs faster then, and Hamilton 0.2secs slower but still faster than the eventual pole time.

Verstappen said: “Q3 was the worst session for Mercedes. When you look at their pure pace, I am happy with second. In Q2, I looked at their lap times and I thought there was no way I could do that.”

Norris was just 0.021secs off pole himself in a very tightly packed session, and Piastri just 0.082secs behind him.

At RB, on the day it was announced Yuki Tsunoda would be staying at the team in 2025, Daniel Ricciardo sent a message by out-qualifying the Japanese for a grand prix for only the second time this season.

Fernando Alonso was sixth for Aston Martin, ending a difficult run of qualifying sessions at the previous three races by being 0.473secs quicker than team-mate Lance Stroll in eighth.

The Aston Martins sandwich Hamilton, who was second fastest behind Russell after the first runs in the top 10 shootout.

Neither Mercedes driver improved on their second laps, but the 0.28secs gap between the pair allowed six drivers to slot in between them by the end of the session.

The final place in the top 10 was taken by Williams driver Alex Albon. (BBC)

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