George Russell pips Max Verstappen for pole at F1 Canadian Grand Prix

In the end, it was decided by the slimmest of margins

In fact, by no margin at all.

George Russell and Max Verstappen posted the exact same time in the third segment of qualifying at the Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix, putting up matching best laps of 1:12.000. But with the Mercedes driver posting his lap first, it was enough to mark his first pole position of the season, and the second of his F1 career.

However, the Mercedes driver was clear when he clinched pole position.

The job is not done.

“Right, we’ve got a race to win now,” declared Russell at the end of a thrilling qualifying session.

Russell’s thunderous performance illustrates that all the talk of “progress” coming from Mercedes the last few race weekends was more than just empty words. The Brackley-based team has truly been taking steps forward, starting with an initial set of upgrades the team brought to the Miami Grand Prix. Early in Saturday’s third qualifying segment Jolyon Palmer noted “[t]hey have got genuine pace here,” as it seemed as if a battle could be brewing between Russell and teammate Lewis Hamilton for pole position. While Hamilton ended up qualifying seventh, it is clear the team has made significant progress since the start of the year.

For good measure, Russell climbed out of the car and hit his trademark pose from last season’s opening titles:


“Getting pole position is a great feeling,” said Mercedes boss Toto Wolff in the team’s post-qualifying report. “We’ve been saying it for a while, but we are going in the right direction. We have taken several small steps in recent races, and it is all adding up to bring us greater performance. That has helped us get closer to the front and we are now progressing to a car that can challenge there more regularly.”

“The car has been so good this weekend. Everyone at Brackley and Brixworth has been working so hard to bring updates and performance. This hard work is now translating into results which is fantastic to see,” described Russell. “It’s only been two races and on unique circuits, but the steps we’ve taken to get closer to the front are encouraging. Let’s see what we can do tomorrow now. We will be aiming for victory but there are plenty of unknowns with this new surface and the weather. I’m feeling confident in the car and in myself though so bring it on!”

Russell grabs the headlines, as Mercedes now looks to translate their first pole position of the season, into something even more important.

Their first win of the season.

Here are the full qualifying results from a stunning Saturday in Montreal, as well as some more winners and losers:

Winners: McLaren

Russell may have captured pole position, but in the title fight that shows no signs of slowing down, you might say this following Saturday’s qualifying session.

Advantage: McLaren.

Verstappen will still start on the front row, alongside Russell. But those two drivers will have nothing but papaya orange in their rear view mirrors, as Lando Norris will start third, with teammate Oscar Piastri alongside him in fourth.

That gives McLaren — one of three teams along with Ferrari and Red Bull involved in that title fight — a chance for a massive Sunday.

“A great job done by the team today and congratulations to George Russell on his pole position,” said Norris in the team’s qualifying report. “The session was tricky, it always is in Montréal, but it’s why we love it and it’s why we’re all smiling. It’s a nice feeling when you put a good lap in and end up in the top three.

“I’m excited to see what we can do in the race. The car has been great in the last three or four races and we’re on a roll. There are fast cars ahead and plenty behind us as well so I think we could be in for an exciting one. We’ll get our heads down overnight and see what we can do to move forward tomorrow.”

“P4. A very tight and difficult session but a fun one. I think many people are leaving thinking they could be on pole, and I’m one of them, but that’s a positive sign in terms of pace. It’s another start towards the front and we’ll see what we can do tomorrow,” added Piastri. “We have good consistency, and we have the benefit of having two cars starting together, which is always a positive from the strategy side. Let’s see what we can do tomorrow. I am looking forward to it.”

Given where they are starting — along with where the Ferrari duo is starting — McLaren could take a big step forward in the standings tomorrow afternoon.

Losers: Ferrari

The grid arrived in Montreal for the Canadian Grand Prix with dreams of a three-way title fight.

McLaren’s strong performance certainly helped that conversation along, but the other two teams involved in that fight endured some struggles on Saturday, starting with Ferrari.

The Scuderia delivered a stunner on Saturday, and not in a good way. When Q2 drew to a close both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jr. were on the outside looking in, with Leclerc set to start Sunday’s Canadian Grand Prix in P11, and Sainz alongside him on the sixth row in P12.

The entire team was left searching for answers, a quest that will likely linger deep into the night in Montreal.

“We have to review this qualifying session and FP3, as we simply weren’t at the level we need to be,” summarized Leclerc in the team’s post-qualifying report.

“Everyone in the team is rather frustrated at the way today’s qualifying went,” described Team Principal Frederic Vasseur. “Today, since FP3, we were lacking something a little bit everywhere, even if yesterday it seemed we were going pretty well and the pace was there over a long run in both wet and dry conditions.

“I think everyone was struggling a bit with [tires], to the point that even Russell’s pole position was obtained on a scrubbed set, but we struggled more than others and we were unable to put everything together to switch on the [tires] at the right moment. We will now analyse everything very carefully but we must keep our spirits up and remember that the points are given out tomorrow.”

Montreal is known to throw some curveballs at the team in the race itself, and with rain in the forecast Sunday could certainly deliver some unexpected results. But with Ferrari starting on the outside of hte points, Leclerc and Sainz will need to do a lot of work on the track to salvage something this weekend.

And to maintain pace with their rivals at the sharp end of the grid.

Winner: Logan Sargeant

This was the kind of day that Williams has been waiting for from Logan Sargeant.

The American driver booked a spot in Q2 for the first time this season — and just the sixth time in his career — and will start the Canadian Grand Prix in P13, in position to fight for his first points of the season.

This is also the second weekend in a row where he qualified ahead of Sergio Pérez on merit, which is certainly notable.

Sargeant sounded frustrated following the session, as he was held up on his best lap and could have potentially squeaked through to Q3. “It’s little bit frustrating as I got held up on my best lap. I actually gained a tenth and a half on myself,” described Sargeant in the team’s post-qualifying report. “If I had that time, I would’ve been straight through to Q3 which is disappointing as you know it’s been left on the table.”

Still, Sargeant realizes that he is in a good position for tomorrow.

“Nonetheless it’s been another solid weekend considering the conditions and how we’ve adapted. Our car pace is a little bit better here which elevates us as a team. I feel like I’ve been driving well with the package I have at the moment,” said Sargeant. “We’re in a position that we can definitely fight from tomorrow. I’m sure it’s going to be a tricky day with most likely changing conditions through the race. We’ve managed it well so far and we’ll try to keep doing the same.”

Sargeant’s status with Williams for 2025 remains in serious doubt, with the team strongly linked with Sainz for the next season. Team Principal James Vowles brushed those rumors aside earlier this week — as did Sainz — but Vowles has long maintained that F1 is a “meritocracy,” and that Sargeant needs to earn his seat.

He reiterated that just yesterday in the FIA Press Conference.

“I think there’s no doubt, actually very similar to Oscar, second year of running, and you are now seeing the confidence start to build as a result of it, and there is performance there. We also haven’t had the cars in the same spec for a period of time,” described Vowles on Friday. “Some of that’s still due to the earlier damage that we’re building up to, some of that is because we pulled forward upgrades, and there was simply not enough to put across two cars.

“He is continuously evolving as an individual, as I hope he would be in that circumstance. Is he where I need him to be target-wise? And that’s the big question of things. We need more from him, really, to be able to save his seat in that sort of circumstance.”

Was Saturday enough to save his seat? Standing alone, probably not.

But if this continues, it might make for a more difficult decision for Vowles.

Loser: Sergio Pérez

Another qualifying session, and another early exit for Sergio Pérez.

His week began on a high, as it was announced that Red Bull had inked the driver to a new two-year deal that will keep him in the fold through 2026 season. But Pérez struggled on Saturday, as he failed to advance out of Q1 and will start 16th in the Canadian Grand Prix.

As he described it, the session was a “total disaster” from his perspective.

“I think the main problem was that we couldn’t turn up rear tire, we were always below the ideal temperature and with those conditions we needed more temperature. Only having 1 lap was not ideal and that made our classification a total disaster,” said Pérez to the media following the session.

“It will be complicated, it will be a complicated race, but, let’s see what we can do with the strategy, the weather and see if we can rescue some points.”

Red Bull Senior Advisor Helmut Marko noted that in his mind, it is a “psychological” issue with Pérez.

“It’s not the car, you can see that with Max. I think it’s more psychological,” described Marko to the media. “It was close, and when the conditions change, he finds it much more difficult. But the fact that it’s already the third time [not in Q3] is painful.”

Perhaps Pérez can salvage something on Sunday. But this is not the kind of weekend he wanted to have just days after signing his new contract.

Winner: Daniel Ricciardo

In the hours ahead of qualifying on Saturday, Visa Cash App RB F1 team announced they were exercising an option on Yuki Tsunoda’s contract, that will keep him in his current seat for next season. Add that to the Pérez news and the long-term contract Verstappen has at Red Bull, and three of the four spots in the Red Bull family are solidified for 2025.

As for that final spot, it is reportedly down to VCARB reserve driver Liam Lawson and the current occupant of that seat, Daniel Ricciardo.

Reports have held that Ricciardo has the inside track to that seat, but every good performance wil lsolidify his case.

Such as the one he turned in Saturday.

Ricciardo stormed into Q3 and when the dust settled, found himself up in P5, where he will start on the third row alongside Fernando Alonso, and in front of Lewis Hamilton.

“I’m very pleased about today,” said Ricciardo in VCARB’s post-qualifying report. “It’s been a really good weekend, a lot of fun, and one of those ones where everything’s just feeling good.

“We are less than two-tenths from pole, and even if it’s not today’s case, sometimes this means being on the front row, so it’s nice being competitive and feeling comfortable in the car. In Q3 it was very important to have a fast warm-up lap and this is what I told the team. I did it and then had the right confidence for the push lap,” added Ricciardo. “It was nice to put the lap together, but I’m not surprised, I know when I feel like this, I can do these things. I’m happy that I was able to get it out of myself, but happy and credit to the team, both cars going into Q3 and happy to reward them with a very nice result.

Ricciardo also noted that he has enjoyed success before in Montreal, including his first F1 victory. A history he hopes to add to tomorrow.

“I always feel something special coming here to Montréal and I’ve got good memories: exactly ten years ago I got my first win here and my life changed,” continued Ricciardo. “Also, the team feels there’s some good energy this weekend, so happy to convert that into some good driving. Tomorrow, we start in a good spot inside the top 5, with some good front-running guys around me, so I’ll get the best out of myself during the race.”

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