Formula 1 Max Verstappen takes pole position at the Canadian Grand Prix

Dutchman Max Verstappen (Red Bull), leader of the Formula 1 world championship, will start in pole position for the Canadian Grand Prix on Sunday in Montreal, after dominating rainy and then drying qualifying on Saturday.

The Spaniards Fernando Alonso (Alpine) and Carlos Sainz (Ferrari), as well as the Briton Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), will complete the first two rows.

Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), 3rd in the championship, will start this 9th round out of 22 at the back of the grid, penalized for an engine change beyond the authorized quota.

Rid of Leclerc for the moment, Verstappen will first have to be wary of the forty-something Alonso. The double world champion (2005, 2006 at Renault) intends to complicate the task for him: “I will attack Max from the first corner”, he has already warned.

The wet track of the Gilles-Villeneuve circuit, on Île Notre-Dame in the middle of the Saint-Laurent, offered a river list of incidents for the return of F1 after two years of absence. Among the culprits, the most notable is Sergio Pérez (Red Bull), entering the wall and causing a long session interruption in Q2. He will start 13th.

Verstappen, who is already 21 points ahead of Pérez and 34 over Leclerc, finds himself with a golden opportunity

to escape at the top of the championship. After his 15th pole position, the 2nd this season, he will aim for a 26th victory in F1, at only 24 years old.

Leclerc is looking for a fresh start

While the pole was played, Leclerc returned to the garage at the end of Q1. In this first part of qualifying, he made sure to have a better time than Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri), also penalized for an illegal engine change.

Before Canada, the Monegasque remained on four pole positions – he signed six out of nine this season. But in racing, he has not won since April 10 in Australia.

After dominating the start of the season, Ferrari accumulates errors. In Spain and last week in Baku, Leclerc retired with mechanical problems while leading. In Monaco, it was a bad strategy that cost him the victory.

As a result of Baku’s new breakage, the power unit deemed “irreparable” by the Scuderia had to be changed. Saturday, from the third free practice session, Leclerc had a brand new engine. The fourth already this season, beyond the three allowed.

Consequently Leclerc is penalized and will start behind, hoping to achieve a fantastic comeback.

“I think it was the best decision to make,” explained Leclerc, who knew he was condemned to this penalty, in Canada or during one of the next races. Backing up to better pitch up, this is Leclerc’s constrained strategy on Sunday.

To launch a new, more favorable streak and continue to be able to dream of a title. Otherwise, Verstappen will go for a second title in a row.

Among the French, Esteban Ocon (Alpine) will be 7th on the grid, Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) 15th.

Saturday morning, the boss of his team, Franz Tost, confirmed that Gasly would stay at AlphaTauri in 2023: “It’s 100% confirmed,” he said, recalling that the Frenchman still had a year of contract.

After Pérez’s contract extension at Red Bull, these statements are anything but a surprise.

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