F1 – Canadian GP – Qualifying
Hello, MiniFans! After two full season away, we’re finally back in Canada for an F1 weekend. Three years later, we’re standing in the Gilles Villeneuve circuit, ready for some action, as this track never fails to provide us with.
In this occasion, the full wets were the tyres chosen for the start of Q1, as rain had been falling steadily all afternoon. It wasn’t their first contact with a water covered track, but FP3 hadn’t been fought for and now drivers were being asked to get a timed lap as early as possible. The Alfa Romeo drivers were the first to obey, but soon the top dogs scored one lap of their own as well.
Mistakes started to make an appearance, mostly in the chicanes and braking zones, but the disappearing water from the racing line also meant more risks were taken and times were dropping quickly. It soon became a matter not of making the time first, but being the last to clock in. Alonso, just as he had done in FP3, had climbed up and this time took the other Spaniard with him, both trailing right behind Verstappen. The eliminated drivers in Q1 were Gasly (P16), Vettel (P17), Stroll (P18), Latifi (P19) and Tsunoda (P20).
Rain had stopped falling by the time Q2 kicked off, but that didn’t mean everyone switched to intermediates. In fact, the best time was scored with intermediate tyres, but not everyone was as lucky and managed the tyres on the still very wet track the same way as Alonso. A few yellow flags timidly came out, and the expected red flag finally came out.
Pérez had managed to slot himself in the tecpro barriers and, unlike Albon before him, was unlucky enough not to be able to reverse his way out of them and, a broken front wing and a car that he couldn’t get out later, the Mexican driver was out of contention. Q2 was finally resumed once the Red Bull was rescued with a very clear dry line in most of the circuit.
This made it so times dropped insanely quickly, and every lap was faster than the previous one. Tyre management became key in the last couple minutes of a session that would only drop three of the remaining cars, as Leclerc didn’t go out due to an engine penalty that will send him to the back of the grid and Pérez could not rejoin. Norris couldn’t get a lap in due to problems with the car, but even with the cheapest trip into Q3 of the season, it went down to the wire and Ocon made it through once the time was finished. The eliminated drivers in Q2 were Bottas (P11), Albon (P12), Pérez (P13), Norris (P14) and Leclerc (P15, will start at the back due to a penalty).
The Mercedes teammates were the first to score laps, but Verstappen, Sainz and Alonso proved to be a bit too much to handle for them. The most surprising bit was Mick Schumacher, who had climbed up to second at some point but settled in fourth after the first stint. The debate for slicks wasn’t even on the table when Russell came out sporting softs and, predictably, went into the barriers right outside of turn 2, although softly and could not finish a lap with them.
The last few minutes of Q3 were hectic. The times were dancing up and down, with Verstappen always at the helm, but the Spaniards didn’t give up and escorted him in the preferential spots among the fears of another red flag. Alonso is back where he hasn’t been in for a long time, and Sainz, once again, lost an opportunity at snatching his first pole position.
The Gilles Villeneuve circuit is one of those that never disappoints and always offers something in return to the fans. In this case, it was a wet qualifying that marvelled us with the driving skills of some of the best in the world. Wet tracks always provide a higher degree of risk, but also entertainment and a true show of what an F1 driver is supposed to behave like and Canada, once again, gave them the best tools to prove themselves.