Canadian GP: Insane dead heat thriller sees Russell and Verstappen make F1 history

Jamie Woodhouse
George Russell and Max Verstappen in a press conference

George Russell and Max Verstappen.

George Russell claimed his second F1 pole after a thrilling Canadian Grand Prix qualifying, where he and Max Verstappen set identical times.

As Russell set his benchmark first, he took the glory of Canadian Grand Prix pole, Verstappen matching his 1:12.000, with McLaren’s Lando Norris just 0.021s further back.

No separating George Russell and Max Verstappen

Dry conditions prevailed for the start of qualifying, but with the radar showing showers in the area, there was no guarantee of it staying that way as the FIA confirmed an 80 per cent chance of rain for the session.

With three different drivers topping the trio of practice sessions, there was a real sense of the unknown over the pecking order as Q1 got underway, drivers flooding out of the pit lane with time potentially of the essence. The slowest five drivers would be eliminated in this session.

With the track green again after a pre-qualifying shower washed away the rubber, the circuit would grip up through Q1, though Lance Stroll, at his home race, was the first to whack the infamous Wall of Champions, thankfully with no consequence as he continued on his way.

F1 2024 drivers face the Wall of Champions

👉 Wall of Champions explained: How one Canadian Grand Prix corner gained its fearsome name

👉 The foolproof Canadian GP formula that new US F1 venues should copy

Lewis Hamilton, chasing a record seventh Canadian Grand Prix pole, headed into qualifying with a great deal of momentum after comfortably topping FP3, but it was his Mercedes team-mate George Russell leading the way on a 1:13.242 by a tenth over Verstappen ahead of the final flurry of push laps.

Oscar Piastri meanwhile was left frustrated over a potential case of impeding also involving Hamilton and Yuki Tsunoda, whose place at RB for F1 2025 was confirmed ahead of the session. The stewards noted that incident down at Turn 4 but did not investigate, while Verstappen vented frustration over the downshifts in his Red Bull.

Verstappen would comfortably top Q1 though from Tsunoda, while for Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez, he was out in Q1 again off the back of signing his new multi-year Red Bull contract. Valtteri Bottas, Esteban Ocon, Nico Hulkenberg and Zhou Guanyu joined him in elimination.

A five-place grid penalty for Ocon, as a result of his first-lap collision with Alpine team-mate Pierre Gasly in Monaco, means he drops to the back of the grid.

Just as the light went green for Q2 to release the queue at the end of the pit lane, drops of rain began to fall, McLaren telling Lando Norris to expect “two to three” minutes of this.

Verstappen took the risk on a set of used soft tyres, dropping out of the top 10 after the opening runs as he lamented a Mercedes which he felt impeded him “on purpose”. There were dramas for Williams on the right rear of Alex Albon’s FW45 meanwhile, as they wheeled him back into the garage for checks with eight minutes to go. It fortunately proved to be a quick fix.

Verstappen’s next effort dragged him up to P9, with the radar showing further rain on its way potentially in time for Q3. The circuit was already tricky from those earlier drops, Russell having a “holy moly” slide through Turn 4 as he did well to keep that Mercedes out of the wall.

The stewards confirmed that Verstappen would be investigated after the session for failing to follow the race director’s instructions in the pit lane, while there was drama down at Ferrari as both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz were out in Q2! Their gamble on used tyres for the final run did not pay off.

Logan Sargeant, Kevin Magnussen and Gasly joined them in elimination, as Russell headed a Mercedes one-two from Hamilton.

Rain was in the area for the all-important Q3, but had not reached the track as the pit lane opened, used soft tyres the widespread choice for the opening runs.

And Mercedes continued to flex their muscles as Russell delivered a 1:12.000 for provisional pole, Hamilton slotting into P2, 0.28s down as Russell picked up a handy tow from Albon’s Williams.

With dark clouds approaching, McLaren went again and split the Mercs, Norris going P2, two hundredths off Russell with Piastri taking over P3.

The rain would hold off to allow for a thrilling end to Canadian Grand Prix qualifying, Verstappen setting an identical time to Russell, but as he set that time first, Russell was on pole for the Canadian Grand Prix!

Q3 times

1 George RUSSELL Mercedes 1:12.000
2 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull Racing +0.000
3 Lando NORRIS McLaren +0.021
4 Oscar PIASTRI McLaren +0.103
5 Daniel RICCIARDO RB +0.178
6 Fernando ALONSO Aston Martin +0.228
7 Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes +0.280
8 Yuki TSUNODA RB +0.414
9 Lance STROLL Aston Martin +0.701
10 Alexander ALBON Williams +0.796

Q2 times

1 George RUSSELL Mercedes 1:11.742
2 Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes +0.237
3 Lando NORRIS McLaren +0.459
4 Yuki TSUNODA RB +0.561
5 Oscar PIASTRI McLaren +0.720
6 Alexander ALBON Williams +0.743
7 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull Racing +0.807
8 Daniel RICCIARDO RB +0.830
9 Fernando ALONSO Aston Martin +0.893
10 Lance STROLL Aston Martin +0.917
—-
11 Charles LECLERC Ferrari +0.949
12 Carlos SAINZ Ferrari +0.986
13 Logan SARGEANT Williams +0.994
14 Kevin MAGNUSSEN Haas F1 Team +1.174
15 Pierre GASLY Alpine +1.198

Q1 times

1 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull Racing 1:12.360
2 Yuki TSUNODA RB +0.388
3 Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes +0.491
4 Alexander ALBON Williams +0.536
5 Oscar PIASTRI McLaren +0.547
6 Lando NORRIS McLaren +0.599
7 George RUSSELL Mercedes +0.653
8 Carlos SAINZ Ferrari +0.678
9 Logan SARGEANT Williams +0.703
10 Lance STROLL Aston Martin +0.728
11 Charles LECLERC Ferrari +0.747
12 Fernando ALONSO Aston Martin +0.757
13 Kevin MAGNUSSEN Haas F1 Team +0.857
14 Daniel RICCIARDO RB +0.880
15 Pierre GASLY Alpine +0.929
—-
16 Sergio PEREZ Red Bull Racing +0.966
17 Valtteri BOTTAS Kick Sauber +1.006
18 Esteban OCON Alpine +1.075
19 Nico HULKENBERG Haas F1 Team +1.618
20 Guanyu ZHOU Kick Sauber +1.932

Read next: The five key takeaways from the FIA’s major 2026 regulations overhaul