Verstappen took pole in wet qualifying, with Hulkenberg second

Max Verstappen secured his 25th Formula 1 pole position in rain-affected Canadian Grand Prix qualifying as a red flag confirmed a front-row start for Nico Hulkenberg.

Although a drying line appeared at the start of Q2, giving drivers the chance to run on softer tyres, conditions worsened and the rain intensified at the start of the final part of qualifying.

Armed with the intermediate rubber, Verstappen collected 1m27.059s on the first lap of the session as Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso got within 0.25s of the championship leader’s opener in their respective openers.

But despite the rain continuing, Verstappen found enough tire temperature to produce a 1m25.858s, although Alonso eclipsed the Dutchman’s second sector in his pursuit.

But the session was red-flagged when Oscar Piastre smashed his McLaren’s right-rear corner into the wall on the exit of Turn 7.

Before the red flag came out, Hulkenberg made up enough time for the second minute, but Alonso was unable to complete his lap and had to retreat to the pits.

The session restarted with seven minutes left on the clock, but persistent rain reduced the drivers’ chances of progress in the final half of the session.

Nico Hulkenberg, Haas VF-23

Photo: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport films

The running token then confirmed what some drivers had mentioned that they could only cope with the session with full wet tyres.

Denied another shot to beat Verstappen, Alonso set the third-fastest time to start on the second row with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.

George Russell and Esteban Ocon completed the third row, ahead of Lando Norris in seventh.

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Carlos Sainz could only manage eighth place.

Piastre’s pre-crash time was good enough to finish ninth, as Alex Alban’s Q3 attempt was abandoned due to a track limit violation.

Alban was the first to risk the soft tires at the start of Q2 as the drying line began to appear, and it was a gamble once the Anglo-Thai driver gathered enough tire temperature.

The Williams driver moved to the top of the timing board and was later eclipsed by Alonso in the intermediate compound, with Alban clocking 1m18.725s to book his place in Q3.

Despite Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez rejecting their soft sets without setting match time, it prompted everyone to get slick.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19

Photo: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport films

As the rain returned to the circuit, the Mexican again bolted through the intermediates but was caught in the drop zone and had one of two high-profile eliminations from the session.

Leclerc was a position ahead as Hulkenberg broke into the top 10 on his own soft-tire lap.

Home hero Lance Stroll recovered from a spectacular spin at the exit of Turn 5 and missed the wall, but only managed to set enough time for 13th place – beating the Nordic duo of Kevin Magnussen and Valtteri Bottas.

Q1 was red-flagged three minutes later after Zhou Guanyu lost drive and had to stop at the exit of Turn 7, although the Alfa Romeo driver was able to reset to bring the car back to the garage.

The drying nature of the circuit in Q1 put the onus on the drivers to show continued improvement, and the session resembled musical chairs as the midfielders battled against the drop zone.

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But both Yuki Tsunoda and Gasly faced a frightening sinew at the chicane and it didn’t make it into Q2 – with Gasly taking to the radio to suggest the Ferrari driver should be “banned”.

0.016 seconds shy of Hulkenberg in 15th, Tsunoda missed the cut after feeling he had been hampered by the Japanese driver during the race.

Nyck de Vries was unable to advance in 18th place on his final lap, with Logan Sergeant joining Zhou on the final row of the grid as the Chinese driver managed to return to the circuit – albeit slightly hampered by his earlier issue.

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