Max Verstappen claims pole position at rain-soaked Canadian Grand Prix ahead of Fernando Alonso

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Fernando Alonso will start on the front of the grid with pole-sitter Max Verstappen - SHUTTERSTOCK
Fernando Alonso will start on the front of the grid with pole-sitter Max Verstappen - SHUTTERSTOCK
  • Verstappen takes pole position in rainy qualifying session

  • Alpine driver Alonso, 41, will also start on the front row

  • Ferrari woes continue as Leclerc is relegated to back of the grid

  • Encouragement for Hamilton who will start race in fourth

Six weeks shy of his 41st birthday, Fernando Alonso offered a compelling exhibition of his ageless craft here in the Montreal spray with an extraordinary final qualifying lap sealing his first front-row appearance on a Formula One grid for a decade.

The Spaniard has already tried retiring from the sport once, proving his versatile talents everywhere from the Dakar Rally to the Indianapolis 500, but it is on motorsport’s grandest stage that his heart resides. No sooner had he delivered this flourish than he was promising to sweep past pole-sitter Max Verstappen into the first corner, declaring: “Maximum attack.”

Verstappen looked amazed to see Alonso beside him at the end, having been just three years old when the veteran made his F1 debut in a Minardi. Truly, Alonso’s longevity remains a wonder of the sport. Take the fact that he conducted his on-track interview with Jacques Villeneuve, son of the great Gilles, after whom this circuit is named. But where the Canadian, alongside whom he raced throughout the early 2000s, retired 16 years ago, Alonso is still testing his abilities at the highest level, having lost none of his restless urge to compete.

He has always insisted, since returning to F1 with Alpine last year, that his gifts are undimmed. So it proved here throughout a rain-affected qualifying session, as he out-qualified his younger team-mate Esteban Ocon by over 1½ seconds. He was plainly not in the mood for a sentimental discussion about how it felt to be back at the sharp end of the grid after so long away. “It’s OK,” he shrugged. “The goal is to lead the race after Turn One.”

Verstappen looks amazed to see Alonso beside him at the end - AFP
Verstappen looks amazed to see Alonso beside him at the end - AFP

A furious first-lap duel between Verstappen and Alonso is a mouthwatering prospect. While Alonso conceded that the Dutchman was “in a different league”, with Verstappen looking as invincible in the wet as he did in drying conditions by the end, he is a master of overtaking whenever he has the opportunity to pounce.

Verstappen will be focused solely on the task of resisting the old stager swarming in his rear-view mirrors. Leading the drivers’ title race by 21 points from Sergio Perez, he has the chance to put further daylight between himself and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who has been relegated to the back of the grid after replacing several of his power unit components.

For Mercedes, working out how to draw some semblance of competitiveness from their porpoising car, there was much-needed encouragement from Lewis Hamilton qualifying in fourth. “Yes, fourth has never felt so good,” he smiled, having for once stolen a march on George Russell. In a surprise move, Russell decided to take on the third part of qualifying on slicks even as parts of the track were bone-dry. “I’m not here to finish fourth or fifth,” he said. “We needed to try things.”

Lewis Hamilton drives brilliantly in the wet to claim fourth - GETTY IMAGES
Lewis Hamilton drives brilliantly in the wet to claim fourth - GETTY IMAGES

Hamilton, celebrating his highest grid place all year, said: “I can’t tell you how happy I am. Angela [Cullen, my physiotherapist] and I had the biggest hug at the back of the garage because we've both been working so hard.” Having visibly suffered with back pain in Azerbaijan last weekend, due to Mercedes’ porpoising issues, he said: “This past week was a real challenge and I’m so grateful to have her with me every day to work through the pain and to get my body right.

“On pure pace in the dry, we’re still a long way off, but to get top four in qualifying in those conditions is awesome. It feels very, very similar to my first qualifying in Australia 2007 in terms of excitement.”

However, Toto Wolff, Mercedes’ team principal, was frustrated by the ongoing row in F1 over porpoising, angrily denying that any undue pressure had been brought to bear on the FIA – as Christian Horner, his opposite number at Red Bull, has suggested – to change the rules. “This situation has clearly gone too far,” he said. “Team principals trying to play political games is disingenuous. All of the cars suffered in some way in Baku. It’s a fault in Formula One at the moment, it’s a design issue that needs to be solved. But with little manipulations in the background, Chinese whispers, it’s a bit difficult.”

Classification from today's qualifying in full:

  1. Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 1:21.299

  2. Fernando Alonso (Spa) Alpine 1:21.944

  3. Carlos Sainz Jr. (Spa) Ferrari 1:22.096

  4. Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1:22.891

  5. Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas F1 1:22.960

  6. Mick Schumacher (Ger) Haas F1 1:23.356

  7. Esteban Ocon (Fra) Alpine 1:23.529

  8. George Russell (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1:23.557

  9. Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) McLaren 1:23.749

  10. Guanyu Zhou (Chn) Alfa Romeo Racing 1:24.030

  11. Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Alfa Romeo Racing 1:26.788

  12. Alexander Albon (Tha) Williams 1:26.858

  13. Sergio Perez (Mex) Red Bull 1:33.127

  14. Lando Norris (Gbr) McLaren No Time Set

  15. Charles Leclerc (Mon) Ferrari No Time Set

  16. Pierre Gasly (Fra) Scuderia AlphaTauri 1:34.492

  17. Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Aston Martin 1:34.512

  18. Lance Stroll (Can) Aston Martin 1:35.532

  19. Nicholas Latifi (Can) Williams 1:35.660 Yuki Tsunoda (Jpn)

  20. Scuderia AlphaTauri 1:36.575

Canadian GP qualifying: as it happened

10:57 PM

Perez apologises for his lacklustre Q2 exit

10:56 PM

Despite coming 15th in the full classification

Leclerc will start at the very back of the grid tomorrow, due to the aforementioned power unit penalties.

Charles Leclerc - Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Charles Leclerc - Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

10:52 PM

A relatively dubious honour that should prove motivating for Magnussen

10:46 PM

Russell stands by his decision to plump for slicks in Q3

10:41 PM

Verstappen speaks to Sky Sports F1

We stayed calm, we made no mistakes, so of course super happy with that, with pole position here - and also to be back here in Montreal. It's great to see all the fans.

You really get that go-karting sensation with proper kerbs around here. We always enjoy driving here and I'm looking forward to tomorrow.

Max Verstappen greets the crowd after taking pole ahead of tomorrow's Canadian Grand Prix - Jim Watson/Pool via Reuters
Max Verstappen greets the crowd after taking pole ahead of tomorrow's Canadian Grand Prix - Jim Watson/Pool via Reuters

10:34 PM

Everything in place for tomorrow

Formula One F1 - Canadian Grand Prix - Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal, Canada - June 18, 2022 Red Bull's Max Verstappen after finishing in pole position after qualifying - Jim Watson/Pool via Reuters
Formula One F1 - Canadian Grand Prix - Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal, Canada - June 18, 2022 Red Bull's Max Verstappen after finishing in pole position after qualifying - Jim Watson/Pool via Reuters
Formula One F1 - Canadian Grand Prix - Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal, Canada - June 18, 2022 Red Bull's Max Verstappen shakes hands with second placed Alpine's Fernando Alonso after finishing in pole position - Jim Watson/Pool via Reuters
Formula One F1 - Canadian Grand Prix - Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal, Canada - June 18, 2022 Red Bull's Max Verstappen shakes hands with second placed Alpine's Fernando Alonso after finishing in pole position - Jim Watson/Pool via Reuters
Formula One F1 - Canadian Grand Prix - Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal, Canada - June 18, 2022 Ferrari's Carlos Sainz Jr. after finishing in third position after qualifying - Jim Watson/Pool via Reuters
Formula One F1 - Canadian Grand Prix - Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal, Canada - June 18, 2022 Ferrari's Carlos Sainz Jr. after finishing in third position after qualifying - Jim Watson/Pool via Reuters

10:32 PM

A long time coming

10:30 PM

What a day for Alonso

Tomorrow should be dry, which will make things entirely different, but the Spaniard stayed aggressive every step of the way.

In the Mercedes camp, we might see the glimmer of a smile from Hamilton, but teammate Russell will be ruing his experiment with the slicks that cost him a front row start.

10:27 PM

Final classifications after today's qualifying

10:19 PM

40 years old, Fernando Alonso lines up second tomorrow

He speaks to Jacques Villeneuve from Sky Sports F1:

It feels great.

This was an unbelievable weekend for us.

Thanks to the wet conditions today, the car was mega, I was so comfortable with driving this car, and I think the fans also helped.

10:17 PM

Standings after Q3

  1. VER

  2. ALO +0.645

  3. SAI +0.797

  4. HAM +1.592

  5. MAG +1.661

  6. MSC +2.057

  7. OCO +2.230

  8. RUS +2.258

  9. RIC +2.450

  10. ZHO +2.731

What a drive from Alonso, a fan favourite that the crowd greet with a huge roar as he steps out of his Alpine.

10:15 PM

End of Q3

Russell inches his way back to 8th, which he should consider a lucky escape on those slippery slicks. Hamilton gets a season-best 4th start, and Magnussen and Schumacher have 5 and 6 for Haas.

10:13 PM

Q3 - 1 minute to go

Checkered flag comes out for Verstappen, and he's first through, but can Hamilton cling on to the front row in the face of Sainz? He's 0.797 behind Verstappen, but that front row spot is instead stolen by Alonso! He's just 0.645 behind Verstappen.

10:12 PM

Q3 - 2 minutes to go

Hamilton moves onto the front row snatching second place, with Verstappen still leading. as Schumacher slides back to 6th. Russell will likely be 10th, but reattempts a lap rather than pitting.

10:11 PM

Q3 - 3 minutes to go

Magnussen goes from 7th to 3rd, pushing Alonso out to 4th. Russell's slicks send him off to the barriers, over the wet grass. He wobbles, damaging his rear wing, and has to Bambi-on-ice back onto the track.

10:08 PM

Q3 - 4 minutes to go

Russell's turn to pit, and he puts on slicks, in a bold move that sets him apart from the pack, but with huge risk involved.

10:07 PM

Q3 - 5 minutes to go

Hamilton slips on new intermediates to give chase and improve on 6th, with Russell in 5th. Schumacher, in fourth, doesn't yield.

10:06 PM

Q3 - 6 minutes to go

Sainz hits the front row again, +0.231 behind Verstappen, and extremely close behind is Alonso, +0.396.

Porpoising for Mercedes certainly isn't as bad here as it was at Baku. There's a gentle bounce, shall we say.

10:05 PM

Q3 - 7 minutes to go

Alonso has third, +1.148 behind Verstappen. Ricciardo having a difficult time of the damp track, having his lap scratched for exceeding the track limits.

Schumacher nips into second, less than a second behind Verstappen.

10:04 PM

Q3 - 9 minutes to go

Verstappen pounces, taking back his lead, as does Alonso, nipping ahead of Russell and Sainz, with Hamilton in fifth.

Verstappen sets 1:22.701, with Sainz a second behind.

10:02 PM

Q3 - 10 minutes to go

Some parts of the track may be dry, but there's still a lot of water at certain points on the track. The Mercedes drivers move ahead in the first lap, Russell ahead of Hamilton, then Schumacher giving chase.

10:00 PM

Here we go, Q3

Leader Verstappen exits the pits to head out for the final time in today's qualifiers.

09:59 PM

This is the first time

... that Zhou Guanyu has reached Q3 in his Formula 1 career.

Zhou Guanyu - Dan Istitene/Formula 1
Zhou Guanyu - Dan Istitene/Formula 1

His appropriately delighted response over the radio:

Let's f---ing go boys! Let's go!

09:57 PM

Perez, at one with nature

Apparently, he turned down the scooter, choosing to face the spiders, snakes, and groundhogs, who lurk in the Notre Dame Island undergrowth.

09:56 PM

Standings at the end of Q2

  1. VER

  2. ALO +1.102

  3. RUS +1.204

  4. SAI +1.451

  5. HAM +1.797

  6. MSC +1.938

  7. ZHO +2.370

  8. OCO +2.389

  9. MAG +2.508

  10. RIC +2.629

Drivers eliminated: BOT, ALB, PER, NOR, LEC

09:54 PM

End of Q2

Verstappen just pips Alonso to first, only a second behind the Dutchman, and Ocon knocks Bottas out at the very last.

09:52 PM

Q2 - 1 minute

Ricciardo clings on at 10th, under pressure from from Hamilton and Albon before sprinting into fourth place, with Schumacher going in third.

Norris is out.

09:51 PM

Q2 - 2 minutes to go

Verstappen is getting pacier and pacier, hitting 1:25.201, with Russell and Sainz just behind. Norris is a man on a mission, with two flying laps to fit in before the end of Q2. Schumacher goes fastest of all through Section 1 and lands in eighth.

09:49 PM

Q2 - 3 minutes

Norris is out and needs to get a power unit issue under control quickly to stay competitive. Sainz nips at Verstappen's heels, a third of a second behind.

Norris comes back onto the track to try and set a time.

09:48 PM

Q2 - 4 minutes to go

Alonso is pushing, going second fastest behind Verstappen, and Magnussen doesn't want to relinquish his grip on Q2 either, dodging ahead to go just over a second behind Verstappen.

09:47 PM

Q2 - 5 minutes to go

Albon pushed into seventh place, and Verstappen reshuffles the packs to set a time of 1:27.764, ahead of Sainz, Russell, and Schumacher.

09:46 PM

Q2 - 6 minutes to go

With only seven minutes to go, Hamilton hasn't got much time to waste. Magnussen is fired up, edging through the pack, and he goes into first, setting a time of 1:30.612.

09:44 PM

Q2 - 8 minutes to go

Blue sky peeking through the clouds, and all of the drivers have strapped on their intermediates to restart Q2.

09:43 PM

No further investigation

For failing to slow under the yellow flag for Stroll, neither one for Sainz returning to the track and possibly obstructing Ocon.

Just a few seconds before we get back underway, with 9 minutes to go.

09:39 PM

Session will re-start at 4.43pm local time

Which is four minutes from now.

09:37 PM

Standings at the red flag

  1. ALO

  2. VER +0.547

  3. SAI +0.993

  4. OCO +0.993

  5. BOT +1.090

  6. RUS +2.050

  7. HAM +2.150

  8. PER

  9. ALB +2.321

  10. MSC +2.692

DROP ZONE

ZHO, MAG, RIC, NOR, LEC

09:35 PM

Q2 - RED FLAG

Albon is back in the pits, and Williams will begin work on his car, which hasn't suffered the initial damage that Perez sustained from a much harder shunt.

09:32 PM

Q2 - RED FLAG

Perez continues to struggle with reversing his Red Bull, as his team try and direct him remotely. He's out of the session either way.

09:31 PM

Q2 - YELLOW FLAG

Albon makes contact with the barrier at turn six, locking up, but doesn't lose power. He reverses, and heads off.

But Perez skids straight off, along the grass and hits a barrier much harder, and looks to ease his way out too. This isn't happening as quickly.

09:29 PM

Q2 - 11 minutes to go

Norris pits, moving onto the intermediate tires as the drivers begin to set their times. Springing ahead is the indefatigable Alonso on 1:30.910.

09:28 PM

Q2 - 12 minutes to go

Verstappen, still on wets, leads the pack with Alonso and Magnussen, then Ocon in pursuit, both on intermediates.

09:27 PM

Q2 - 14 minutes to go

News that Gasly has reported an issue with his car, which may have led to that disappointing Q1 finish. Albon slows his pace, impacting Hamilton, as the drivers start to settle.

09:25 PM

Gearing up for Q2

Sainz may have obstructed Ocon, which Ocon notes over his radio, which could mean he has to go and see the stewards.

Incredibly frustrating Q1 for Aston Martin: such a strong practice session for Vettel, and Stroll has shown good form in wet weather.

A lot of the drivers have moved onto intermediates.

09:23 PM

Drivers after Q1

  1. VER

  2. ALO +0.058

  3. SAI +0.562

  4. MAG +0.738

  5. LEC +0.789

  6. OCO +0.793

  7. RUS +0.941

  8. RIC +1.417

  9. BOT +1.470

  10. ZHO +1.473

  11. MSC +1.488

  12. HAM +1.622

  13. PER +1710

  14. ALB +1.828

  15. NOR +1.847

Drivers eliminated: GAS, VET, STO, LAT, TSU

09:19 PM

End of Q1

A final push for Alonso sees him go second, and Vettel gets a stay of execution with a final lap just before the checkered flag drops.

Leclerc, Albon and Sainz have all be noted by the stewards for driving 'unnecessarily slowly'.

What can Vettel do here? Can he get out of the final five? He can't, and he's out.

09:17 PM

Q1 - 1 minute to go

Verstappen moves into the lead with second to go, setting 1:32.219 to push Sainz back to second place.

Then he steams into the run-off area, and the yellow flags are out briefly. Leclerc doesn't go round the bollard as instructed, which the stewards may look into.

09:16 PM

Q1 - 2 minutes to go

A line is starting to appear on the track, as the times get quicker, but Sainz continues to hold onto his lead. Gasly's at risk, falling back down to 15th with minutes to go.

09:15 PM

Q1 - 3 minutes to go

Currently in the drop zone: Albon, Tsunoda, Vettel, Stroll and Latifi. After a strong start for Vettel, that will be a real shame for Aston Martin.

Sainz takes up the Ferrari Number 1 mantel, setting a 1:32.781 and going into first place. Ocon and Alonso can't catch him.

09:14 PM

Q1 - 5 minutes to go

Perez languishes down in 13th place, and Verstappen has been pushed back to fourth by George Russell, moving into third as the drivers give it their all for the final five minutes of Q1.

09:12 PM

Q1 - 6 minutes to go

Russell and Hamilton stay close to Verstappen, with Russell less than a tenth of a second behind Verstappen. But the Dutch driver is unseated by a whipcracking Carlos Sainz, setting 1:32.781, with Alonso moving into second place too.

Verstappen pits for new wet weather tires, and Leclerc moves up to seventh.

09:10 PM

Q1 - 8 minutes to go

There's a huge puddle in the apex of turn one, which the drivers must re-route to avoid. Verstappen steams into first, putting 1:33.200 on the board as the times start to improve.

09:09 PM

Q1 - 9 minutes to go

Hamilton radios to tell his team that about the poor visibility. Tsunoda pits - no news yet on whether we'll see him again. Leclerc is still out there, sitting 17th.

09:08 PM

Q1 - top 10 so far

  1. RUS

  2. SAI

  3. VER

  4. OCO

  5. TSU

  6. GAS

  7. HAM

  8. ALO

  9. MSC

  10. RIC

DROP ZONE: ALB, STO, ZHO, MAG, LAT

09:06 PM

Q1 - 12 minutes to go

Hamilton jumps ahead but misses the chance to set the fastest as Verstappen moves into the front with a lap time of 1:35.830. Alonso is looking feisty, however.

09:05 PM

Q1 - 14 minutes to go

The visibility is extremely difficult, with the mist, and the wets throwing up spray. Russell sets the fastest lap first, 1:36.688, with Alonso +0.178 and Verstappen and Vettel just behind.

09:03 PM

Q1 - 16 minutes to go

Vettel nips ahead but Gasly springs back to take the lead, before handing it over to Gasly.

09:03 PM

Here they go: green lights in Montreal

Perez makes it out onto the track, ahead of his teammate. Vettel settles into the front, all cars using their wets and going tentatively.

09:00 PM

We will see Tsunoda and Leclerc in Q1

As they race against one another, basically, to decide who sits at the back of the grid, both having received grid penalties.

08:56 PM

Kevin Magnussen, Sainz and Verstappen

All slid off the track in FP3. No damage to their cars luckily, but an indication that we could be gearing up for a stop-start, unpredictable, qualifiers.

Strap in.

Verstappen narrowly avoids Daniel Ricciardo during free practice today - Eric Bolte/USA TODAY Sports
Verstappen narrowly avoids Daniel Ricciardo during free practice today - Eric Bolte/USA TODAY Sports

08:52 PM

Mechanics are still working at Red Bull

... on Sergio Perez's car. No suggestion yet that this will impact his qualifiers, but the sparks are flying in the Red Bull garage.

His teammate's car is ready to go.

08:48 PM

Top 5 Constructors' Standings ahead of tomorrow's Grand Prix

  1. Red Bull Racing 279 points

  2. Ferrari 199 points

  3. Mercedes 161 points 

  4. McLaren 65 points 

  5. Alpine Renault 47 points 

Ferrari's inconsistency has given Red Bull a runaway lead. Can they catch up? And even more optimistically, can Mercedes?

08:43 PM

A reminder of our new F1 newsletter - The Racing Line

Landing in your inbox every Monday after each race - how could you resist? Sign up for it here.

08:39 PM

Predictions?

Can Alonso and Vettel carry their strong practice form to a finish high up the grid? Verstappen is usually more than happy with a little bad weather, despite struggling in FP3. Just over twenty minutes until we start the process of finding out.

Red Bull's Sergio Perez, of Mexico, drives during the third practice session during the third practice session at the Formula One Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal, Saturday, June 18, 2022.  - Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press
Red Bull's Sergio Perez, of Mexico, drives during the third practice session during the third practice session at the Formula One Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal, Saturday, June 18, 2022. - Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press

08:36 PM

Toto Wolff speaks to Sky Sports F1 about Mercedes' troublesome W13

I think we got it probably wrong. What we expected in terms of mechanical grip and downforce, it's just too low for what you can realistically run.

It's a direction that we need to change and we are doing so, but it's very slow.

It's not what we expected from ourselves, and where we should be.

08:20 PM

Top 10 in the Drivers' Standings going into the weekend

Leclerc will have a lot to do to keep a handle on his Championship ambitions, after two DNFs in the past four races.

08:17 PM

An interesting quirk of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve

Groundhogs, native to Notre Dame Island, and therefore immovable. They've caused some mischief in their time, seeming to keep up with the racing, and yesterday one came inch-close to Carlos Sainz's Pirellis.

08:12 PM

Some pre-qualifying reading

To be honest with you, I just tried to stay true to our values, to keep our heads down and do the best job that we could,” Horner says. “But you could see that it boiled over in the garage next door on a few occasions.

That’s something I haven’t seen against another competitor. I’ve raced against Ross Brawn, Stefano Domenicali, Ron Dennis, Flavio Briatore, and I never, ever saw that kind of reaction.

Christian Horner spoke to Oliver Brown about his toxic, personal feud with Toto Wolff.

Red Bull Racing's British team chief Christian Horner follows the qualifying session for the Formula One Azerbaijan Grand Prix at the Baku City Circuit in Baku on June 11, 2022 - HAMAD I MOHAMMED /AFP
Red Bull Racing's British team chief Christian Horner follows the qualifying session for the Formula One Azerbaijan Grand Prix at the Baku City Circuit in Baku on June 11, 2022 - HAMAD I MOHAMMED /AFP

08:07 PM

The wets have been getting good usage today

08:05 PM

Final times after third practice

  1. Fernando Alonso (ESP) Alpine Renault 1min 33.836secs

  2. Pierre Gasly (FRA) AlphaTauri 1:33.889

  3. Sebastian Vettel (GER) Aston Martin 1:33.891

  4. Esteban Ocon (FRA) Alpine Renault 1:34.003

  5. Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) McLaren 1:34.110

  6. Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren 1:34.248

  7. George Russell (GBR) Mercedes 1:34.259

  8. Sergio Perez (MEX) Red Bull Racing 1:34.498

  9. Max Verstappen (NED) Red Bull Racing 1:34.616

  10. Carlos Sainz (ESP) Ferrari 1:34.778

  11. Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Alfa Romeo 1:35.016

  12. Zhou Guanyu (CHN) Alfa Romeo 1:35.213

  13. Lance Stroll (CAN) Aston Martin 1:35.531

  14. Kevin Magnussen (DEN) Haas 1:35.643

  15. Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes 1:35.692

  16. Alexander Albon (THA) Williams 1:35.761

  17. Yuki Tsunoda (JAP) AlphaTauri 1:36.261

  18. Mick Schumacher (GER) Haas 1:37.388

  19. Nicholas Latifi (CAN) Williams 1:38.394

Did not set time: Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari

08:00 PM

Good evening

Hello and welcome to Telegraph Sport's live coverage of the 2022 Canadian Grand Prix for a soggy qualifying race at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

It's the first time the circus has come to Canada since the COVID pandemic, with the race last run on Montreal's Notre Dame Island in 2019. That day belonged to Lewis Hamilton:  Hamilton has won the Grand Prix here seven times, which makes it his third most profitable circuit.

But even the British driver's most committed fan would have a hard time justifying an optimistic return for Hamilton. Earlier in the week, he revealed that he was still taking painkillers after the damage his W13 inflicted on him after porpoising heavily in Baku last weekend.

Nor will he experience respite soon, after the FIA's shock ruling this Thursday that sees the sport's governing body respond to issues of porpoising by placing a strict limit on "vertical oscillations" -- penalising those teams that exceed it. This will only disadvantage teams, like Mercedes, whose cars struggle with the issue, as the only solution will be to increase the ride height, slowing down the former seven-time World Champion and his teammate George Russell.

MONTREAL, QUEBEC - JUNE 17: Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes and Great Britain during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Canada at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on June 17, 2022 in Montreal, Quebec. - Peter J Fox/Getty Images North America
MONTREAL, QUEBEC - JUNE 17: Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes and Great Britain during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Canada at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on June 17, 2022 in Montreal, Quebec. - Peter J Fox/Getty Images North America

Coming off today's final practice session, it's the veterans who have the initial edge in FP3's wet conditions, with Fernando Alonso leading the pack for Alpine, and Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel 0.055secs behind in third. Both drivers have previously won the Grand Prix, Alonso in 2006 and Vettel twice, in 2013, and 2018. Pierre Gasly in the AlphaTauri splits the pair in second place.

Looking ahead to tomorrow's race day, Charles Leclerc's title hopes hang in the balance, after being overtaken by Sergio Perez in the standings at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. But he's not helped in Montreal by a 10-place grid penalty the Monegasque driver received after fitting a new Control Electronic between practices one and two yesterday, and a further grid penalty for fitting a new power unit ahead of practice three.

After receiving the first penalty, Leclerc said: "Obviously I'm starting a little bit more in the back. But I think it was the best decision to  make, so let's see how it goes.

"Overtaking was a little bit more difficult that I expected today, but the pace is there, so hopefully we can come back to where we want to be."

Leclerc now starts at the back of the grid, alongside Yuki Tsunoda, who also added new power unit elements on Friday.

Settle in: just under two hours to go until we find out how the drivers will line up in Montreal.