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F1 news

Russell takes only second career F1 pole with Verstappen under investigation

What will happen to Max Verstappen? But what a pole for George Russell.

Russell FP3 Canada
To news overview © XPBimages

George Russell scored only the second pole position of his F1 career to land top spot on the grid for the Canadian Grand Prix.

Remarkably, Mercedes driver Russell and second-on-the-grid Max Verstappen set exactly the same - 72 seconds dead - but as the first to post the crucial flier, the Briton will line up ahead of the three-time champion.

Red Bull driver Verstappen, though, is under investigation for failing to follow the race director's instructions in Q2. It is understood to surround a pit lane infringement as the three-time champion forced himself into the queue of cars rather than awaiting his turn.

The qualifying session was full of surprises, with Red Bull's Sergio Perez knocked out in Q1 in which Verstappen was quickest, whilst Ferrari pair Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz were dumped out in Q2, apparently after running scrubbed tyres on their final flying lap.

It could prove to be a crucial pole position for Russell as the person taking the top spot on the grid has crossed the line first in each of the last seven grands prix. In 2019, Sebastian Vettel took the chequered flag after scoring pole but had to settle for a controversial second after being handed a five-second penalty.

Overall, the driver on pole position has won the race on 21 occasions in the 42 editions of this event.

In Q3, on used tyres on the first run, Russell set the benchmark with a time of 1:12.000, followed by Lewis Hamilton 0.280s down, and Verstappen 0.358s off the pace, followed by Oscar Piastri and Fernando Alonso.

Switching to fresh softs for the second crucial runs, and with two flying laps possible on that set for those left the pits early enough, Piastri was the first to post a time, but 0.103s behind Russell, before Norris finished 0.021s down.

At that stage, the wind played a crucial role, with only Verstappen able to improve on his first lap, matching Russell but knowing as second over the line he will start second.

Lando Norris, only 0.021s down, will start third in his McLaren, followed by Piastri, with Daniel Ricciardo in his RB pulling a superb lap out of the bag to start fifth alongside Alonso, with Hamilton only after going into qualifying as the favourite.

Yuki Tsunoda, with a fresh RB contract in his pocket starts eighth, followed by Aston Martin's Lance Stroll and Alex Albon in his Williams.

Result Qualification - Canadian

# Driver Team Time Tyre
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With drops of rain starting to fall early in Q2, there was an understandable queue that formed to escape the pit lane and get onto the track, with Piastri laying down a crucial early marker with a 1:12.462, at that stage six-tenths up on next best Verstappen, who was on used tyres for his first run.

Russell then set the best lap of the session at the time overall by edging Piastri by 0.139s before a near-miss with the wall at Turn 4 on a later run he described over the radio as "Holy moly".

With times on the board for all 15 drivers, and rain looming, fresh sets of softs were strapped on for the final flying runs in a bid to make the top-10 shoot-out, with Norris throwing down the gauntlet with a 1:12.201 before Tsunoda popped in a 1:12.303.

In the bottom five with a minute left on the clock, Verstappen elevated himself to fifth quickest before landing on seventh at the end of a session in which both Leclerc and Sainz were astonishingly knocked out.

The duo, following their superb performance in Monaco a fortnight ago when Leclerc won on home soil, will start 11th and 12th. It is the first time in almost three years neither Ferrari has reached Q3.

Behind Sainz will be Logan Sargeant in his Williams, reaching Q2 for the first time this year, with Kevin Magnussen lining up 14th in his Haas followed by the Alpine of Pierre Gasly.

Out in front were the Mercedes pair of Russell and Hamilton, both under 72 seconds, with the former posting a 1:11.742, and the latter a quarter of a second adrift, followed by Norris and Tsunoda.

At the start of the 18-minute Q1, light drops of rain were reported in Turns 7 and 8 but it never took hold to cause any disruption.

Verstappen set the initial benchmark of a 1:15.194 but that was swiftly usurped by first Norris and then Stroll, the latter posting a 1:14.519, only for Russell to oust the home hero by four-tenths of a second.

In between those laps, Sainz suffered a moment at Turn 1 that forced him across the grass before Norris set a 1:13.541. The lap times continued to tumble as the track rubbered in, allowing Verstappen to edge ahead on a 1:13.368.

Hamilton and Russell then both had issues, with the former following Sainz's earlier lead at Turn 1, whilst the latter had to take to the grass at the Turn 8/9 chicane during a slow-down lap, but recovered to land a 1:13.242 on his next push lap.

Inside the final four minutes, Stroll delighted his home crowd with a 1:13.088 before Norris became the first driver to dip below 73 seconds with a 1:12.959 before Hamilton went quickest by a tenth of a second.

Into the final minute, and under pressure languishing in 20th, Perez produced a lap that only elevated him to 12th, and with others behind him on quick laps, the Mexican could only qualify 16th, just as Verstappen posted the best lap of Q1 with 1:12.360, four-tenths up on next best Tsunoda.

Also knocked out was Stake's Valtteri Bottas, the Alpine of Esteban Ocon, along with another surprise in Nico Hulkenberg in his Haas, with Zhou Guanyu, who twice caused red flags in practice, slowest by three-tenths of a second.

Zhou will start 19th, however, due to Ocon serving a five-place grid penalty following his crash with team-mate Gasly on the opening lap of the recent Monaco Grand Prix.

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