Canadian Grand Prix – Max Verstappen took pole position as Nico Hulkenberg was awarded a grid penalty after qualifying second

Max Verstappen of Red Bull took the front position in the wet qualifying session at the Canadian Grand Prix, producing a series of surprises.

He will start ahead of Fernando Alonso of Aston Martin and Lewis Hamilton and George Russell of Mercedes.

Nico Hulkenberg of Haas initially qualified second but was given a three-place grid penalty for exceeding the speed limit under red flag conditions.

Charles Leclerc of Ferrari and Sergio Perez of Red Bull are in 10th and 12th positions, respectively.

They were eliminated in the second session after waiting too long for the switch to slick tires before the rain returned.

Hulkenberg, the veteran German driver, who was relegated to fifth position, is one of four drivers who will receive a three-place grid penalty for violations during a busy qualifying day for the stewards.

Carlos Sainz of Ferrari initially qualified eighth but was penalized for impeding Pierre Gasly of Alpine in the first part of qualifying.

Esteban Ocon of Alpine starts in sixth position with Lando Norris in seventh, just ahead of his McLaren teammate Oscar Piastri.

Piastri had a mishap early in the final session, causing a red flag and ultimately preventing any driver from improving their position as the rain intensified during the delay.

Williams driver Alex Albon had an impressive performance, finishing second in the second session after opting to start with dry weather tires.

The Thai-born British tennis player couldn’t replicate his heroics in the final session, but starting in ninth position is the best for Williams this season so far.

Hulkenberg shows ‘enduring quality’ despite penalty

Even with his penalty, imposed for failing to stay within speed limits after Piastri’s accident, Hulkenberg and Albon delivered standout performances in a dramatic session dominated by ever-changing conditions at the demanding Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on Ile Notre Dame, across the St. Lawrence Seaway from downtown Montreal.

Brought back to F1 by Haas this year for his experience after three years without regular racing, Hulkenberg reminded of his enduring quality in conditions where he often excels.

He was the last driver to record a lap time in the final part of qualifying as the rain had just started to increase before Piastri lost control at Turn Seven.

The rookie Australian’s mistake came after an impressive showing in the second session, recording the fourth fastest time behind Albon, Verstappen, and Norris.

Piastri wasn’t the only driver to suffer as the conditions transitioned from damp to drier during the first half and then rain started to fall, initially lightly and then more heavily in the latter part of qualifying.

Ferrari looked quick in practice the previous day, and in dry conditions on Friday, but Leclerc’s day unraveled in the second session.

Like most drivers, except Albon, he started with intermediate tires, but in his lap, he already radioed that the track was dry enough for slicks and he wanted to pit immediately.

The team advised him to stay out to set a “banker” lap, which he did, but after returning to the track on slicks, he was never competitive.

In desperation, he switched back to intermediates for the final part of the session, but when he returned to the track in increasingly heavy rain, he radioed to say that his tires were “not ready,” and screamed in frustration to show his displeasure.

Sainz was penalized for a concerning incident where he and Yuki Tsunoda of Alpha Tauri both attempted to start a flying lap at the final chicane, and Sainz and Ferrari failed to account for Gasly closing in rapidly as he tried to end his out lap.

Tsunoda himself was given a three-place grid drop for impeding Hulkenberg, dropping him to 19th position, while Lance Stroll of Aston Martin will start in 16th position in his home grand prix after being penalized for impeding Ocon.

Perez failed to extract the best from his tires through the first part of the second session, and he faces his third consecutive race starting outside the top 10, an unpleasant record for a man in the fastest car who just a month ago still had pretensions of winning the championship.