Qualy: Verstappen takes Canada pole, Alonso on front row

Jamie Woodhouse
Max Verstappen, Red Bull, on the intermediates. Canada, June 2022.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, competes in wet conditions on the intermediates. Canada, June 2022.

Max Verstappen was the class of the field in a damp 2022 Canadian GP qualifying, where Fernando Alonso shone to make the front row.

As the track continued to dry in Q3, the pack could not live with Verstappen’s rapid improvement, a 1:21.299 securing pole for the Red Bull driver.

Carlos Sainz looked like he could have challenged that time, but getting his Ferrari out of shape at the final chicane, that allowed Alonso to swoop in and snatch P2 on the grid, delighting the Canadian fans who had packed out the stands.

As predicted, the rain and cold stuck around for the interval between FP3 and Q1, meaning challenging conditions greeted the drivers once more.

Fortunately, there was no Q1 delay with the session getting underway on time, the full wets a must with huge amounts of standing water around the track.

Charles Leclerc was consigned to starting from the back after taking a new power unit, but the same was true for Yuki Tsunoda, the pair battling to set the faster time and take P19 on the grid. Leclerc claimed that particular win.

Just as Sainz had spoken of switching to inters, his final flying lap was ruined by an off as the track continued to improve and the times tumbled. Verstappen topped Q1 on a 1:32.2, while Tsunoda, Nicholas Latifi, Lance Stroll, Sebastian Vettel and Pierre Gasly all dropped out, a major disappointment for Aston Martin.

To compound Gasly’s misery, he reported an issue on the front-left of his AlphaTauri and then was noted by the stewards for missing the bollard as he rejoined at Turn 14, the second time in as many days that this had happened.

The start of Q2 brought a strategy split on the tyres as the likes of Alonso, Sainz and Sergio Perez went for the inters. Lewis Hamilton said the track was at the crossover, Mercedes urging their driver to get a lap on the board first.

Sainz meanwhile was noted for an unsafe return to the track in Q1, though no investigation was needed, the same was true for Stroll who had been noted for allegedly failing to slow under yellow flags.

Williams’ Alex Albon had made it into Q2, but his session came dangerously close to ending when he locked-up at Turn 6 and found the Techpro. Perez soon had a trip of his own into the barriers between Turns 3 and 4, a hefty whack as he searched for reverse gear.

The session was red flagged and Perez found reverse, but the RB18 was not in the mood to move. That was the end of qualifying for Perez and confirmation of his first Q2 exit since Qatar 2021.

Nine minutes of the session remained as the track returned to green, that break a welcome one for McLaren after Lando Norris had reported a “misfiring” power unit. But as the clock ticked down, he was still stuck in the garage.

All drivers were now on inters, the rain having moved away as the track quickly began to dry.

A 1:30.6 from Kevin Magnussen began the chain of improvements, Verstappen though swiftly moving into the 1:27s and then the 1:26s.

Norris would indeed make it back out onto the circuit with a few minutes remaining. It should have afforded him a couple of flying lap attempts, but those engine gremlins continued. Leclerc stayed in the pits, Ferrari seeing no reason to send him out when P19 was the best he could achieve and already in the bag.

Mick Schumacher shot up to P3 and Alonso P1 as Norris returned to the garage in acceptance of his fate, Verstappen soon stretching clear at the front again by a second.

Leclerc, Norris, Perez, Albon and Valtteri Bottas were the Q2 casualties. Bravo to Zhou Guanyu as he took his Alfa Romeo into Q3, a first appearance in that session and the second race weekend in succession where he outqualified Bottas.

He does though face a post-qualifying investigation for failing to follow the race director’s notes.

Onto the shootout for pole then, would anyone brave a late run on the slick tyres?

The first runs left Verstappen top of the pile, a 1:22.701 spelling provisional pole. Sainz was sitting P2, while Alonso up in P3 and Schumacher in P4 were flying. So, Russell decided that it was time to roll the dice on some C5 soft tyres.

Magnussen made gains, but Verstappen changed the game with a 1:21.6, Russell’s experiment ending in the wall at Turn 2 as he smacked the rear wing against the barrier.

The chequered flag fell and Verstappen found another three-tenths, Sainz on to challenge that time but difficulties at the final chicane ended his charge and allowed Alonso to snatch a place on the front row.

Pole though comfortably belonged to Verstappen.


1 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:21.299
2 Fernando Alonso Alpine 1:21.944
3 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:22.096
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:22.891
5 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:22.960
6 Mick Schumacher Haas 1:23.356
7 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:23.529
8 George Russell Mercedes 1:23.557
9 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 1:23.749
10 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 1:24.030
11 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 1:26.788
12 Alexander Albon Williams 1:26.858
13 Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing 1:33.127
14 Lando Norris McLaren 1:34.066 [did not set Q2 time]
15 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:33.008 [did not set Q2 time]
16 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1:34.492
17 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 1:34.512
18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:35.532
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams 1:35.660
20 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1:36.575