Russell beats Verstappen to Canadian GP pole in dead heat after stunning early exits for Ferrari and Perez

Canadian GP qualifying was one of the best sessions of the 2024 F1 season and delivered a dead heat between Mercedes and Red Bull

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George Russell took an unbelievable pole position at the 2024 Canadian Grand Prix setting exactly the same time as Max Verstappen in a brilliantly barnstorming qualifying that saw both Ferraris shockingly eliminated in Q2.

Mercedes were the team to beat all afternoon and it was Russell‘s first run in Q3 that secured pole, with Verstappen forced to settle for second due to setting his 1:12.000 lap later in the session, as McLaren securing a second-row lockout led by Lando Norris. With five teams represented in a top six separated by less than a quarter of a second, the dramatic qualifying session sets up an equally intriguing Canadian GP.

Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz missed out on Q3 by just 0.042 and 0.069 seconds as they made their final runs on used tyres on the most unpredictable of afternoons. The threat of rain was always in the air with very little grip on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve but all three sessions ultimately remained dry.

Verstappen required successive last-minute improvements to reach Q3 but is under investigation for failing to follow the race director’s instructions while Sergio Perez celebrated his new Red Bull deal in the worst possible manner by completing back-to-back Q1 exits, banging his halo with his fist at the hairpin when he heard the news.

Mercedes ran 1-2 in Q2 and were the leaders in the clubhouse after the first runs of the final session, with Russell superior on both occasions despite almost slamming into the wall at turn four.

The wind picked up ahead of the final runs in Q3 and only Verstappen could improve, with Norris just 0.021 seconds behind the lead pair and Daniel Ricciardo in fifth producing his best performance of the season immediately after Jacques Villeneuve openly questioned his F1 future.

Fernando Alonso led Lewis Hamilton, who was the most disappointing driver in Q3 having been hot on his teammate’s heels throughout, and Yuki Tsunoda heaped more pressure on Perez by finishing eighth.

Sainz made a mistake early in Q1 but it was his error at the end of Q2 that really cost him, momentarily losing control at the final chicane to miss out behind Lance Stroll in tenth, who delighted the home crowd by going top at one stage and eventually qualified ninth.

Logan Sargeant looked set to beat his teammate in grand prix qualifying for the first time ever but Alex Albon produced an inspired lap to reach Q3 and will start 10th, just ahead of Leclerc.

Perez nightmare worsens, RBs flourish

Yuki Tsunoda of Visa Cash App RB during final practice ahead of 2024 Japanese Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Yuki Tsunoda of Visa Cash App RB during final practice ahead of 2024 Japanese Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Red Bull announced a controversial contract extension for Perez after a Monaco GP where qualifying 18th was somehow the highlight of his weekend, before causing a first-lap crash that took out both Haas drivers after naively attempting to squeeze Kevin Magnussen too hard.

Perez fell into a similar rut 12 months ago when he failed to reach Q3 for five successive races starting with the 2023 Monaco GP, but Verstappen‘s RB19 was so far ahead of the rest of the field that it didn’t cost the team.

It looks like a very different story in 2024 though, on the day Red Bull announced they’re keeping a potential rival for Perez‘s seat within the stable for 2025.

Though Ferrari‘s gaffe may save Perez‘s blushes on this occasion, the reality is that Red Bull‘s meagre 24-point constructors’ championship lead won’t survive a similar run of failures as 2023.

Tsunoda‘s RB contract extension was revealed just 45 minutes before he out-qualified Perez for the third consecutive race from the junior team, though it was Ricciardo who stole the show.

Adam Dickinson
Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for Total-Motorsport.com since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, previously worked for Last-Lap.co.uk and FeederSeries.net in motorsport, and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
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