Motor racing-Russell takes Canadian pole with same time as Verstappen

By Thomson Reuters Jun 8, 2024 | 7:29 PM

By Steve Keating

MONTREAL (Reuters) -George Russell put Mercedes on pole position for the Canadian Grand Prix by the blink of an eye on Saturday after setting exactly the same time as Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

Triple Formula One world champion Verstappen missed out on pole because he set his time of one minute 12.000 seconds after his British rival in a drama-filled qualifying session at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

Mercedes signalled they were going to be a threat for pole earlier on Saturday when Lewis Hamilton, a seven-times winner in Canada, posted the top time in final practice with Russell close behind in third.

Rain, which had disrupted both practices on Friday, returned for the first two phases of qualifying but the skies cleared and the sun began to appear in time for the last-10 shootout that ended in a dead heat.

Russell will start on pole for the first time since Brazil 2022, joined on the front row by Verstappen who is chasing a Canadian Grand Prix hat-trick.

“I’ve missed this feeling,” Russell said. “Excited for tomorrow, first step done but now obviously we’ve got our eyes on that win.

“The car has been feeling amazing since we brought some upgrades to Monaco, we have really been in that fight now. So we’re going for it tomorrow.”

Russell’s pole provided yet another sign that Red Bull’s domination is waning.

After Verstappen’s run of eight consecutive poles extending back to last season, three different drivers have started from the front in the last three races.

If Russell can follow up his pole with a victory on Sunday he would also become the fourth different winner in the last four.


Red Bull and Verstappen will not be waving the white flag, however, and the Dutchman showed that his team are still a threat.

“I think overall we still had a good qualifying,” summed up Verstappen, who tops the drivers standings 31 points clear of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

“The whole weekend has been still a bit tricky for us, but to be P2, I’d take it,” he added.

“Going into qualifying I would have definitely taken that.

“That it was that close at the end makes it really exciting for tomorrow as well.”

Verstappen will not be getting much help from Mexican team mate Sergio Perez, who turned in an uninspired effort and will start well back in 16th.

Perez’s day was not as bad as Ferrari’s with Leclerc, a winner two weeks ago in Monaco, and Carlos Sainz stumbling out in the second phase and starting 11th and 12th respectively.

“For sure when you are 11th and 12th you are not happy,” said Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur. “It’s tight.

“At the end of the day Perez is 16th and for one or two tenths you can be out.”

Sauber’s Zhou Guanyu, who crashed early in two of the three practice sessions, paid dearly for his lack of track time and finished bottom of the results sheet.

It will be Alpine’s Esteban Ocon starting last on Sunday, however, the Frenchman taking a five-place grid penalty for colliding with team mate Pierre Gasly in the last race in Monaco.

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Montreal, editing by Clare Fallon and Ed Osmond)