The Malta Independent 13 June 2024, Thursday
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Russell takes Canadian Grand Prix pole, edging F1 points leader Verstappen on tiebreaker

Associated Press Sunday, 9 June 2024, 06:17 Last update: about 4 days ago

George Russell edged Formula 1 points leader Max Verstappen on a tiebreaker for the pole position Saturday in the Canadian Grand Prix.

Russell and Verstappen had identical laps of 1 minute 12.000 seconds at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, with the Mercedes driver getting the top spot Sunday by setting the time first. It’s the second time F1 qualifying has ended in a tie since the start of three-decimal timing.

Now Russell faces the challenge of keeping Red Bull star Verstappen behind him in the race.

“Why not? Of course. Let’s go for it,” Russell said. “The car has been feeling amazing. Since we brought some upgrades to Monaco, we’ve sort of really been in that fight now. We’re going for it tomorrow.”

The 26-year-old Russell claimed his second career pole.

“Such a buzz. It’s been a while since we’ve experienced this feeling,” Russell said. “So much hard work going on behind the scenes … we’ve almost felt like all of that hard work hasn’t been paying off. But I think these last two race weekends has really shown that.”

Verstappen won the pole last year and led every lap of the race amid a historically dominant season. This year, he’s facing more challengers.

“When you look at the whole grid, there are quite a few surprises,” Verstappen said. “Just shows that everyone is closing up, and it’s really details that make the difference. It’s good for Formula 1.”

McLaren’s Lando Norris was third at 1:12.02.

Both Ferraris failed to reach the third qualifying session for the first time since 2021.

Charles Leclerc, the Monaco winner two weeks ago, will start 11th, with teammate Carlos Sainz 12th.

“We are just not fast enough,” Leclerc said. “I don’t have any explanations for now. “Very surprising, I did not expect that,"

Seven-time Canadian GP winner Lewis Hamilton qualified seventh for Mercedes. Montreal driver Lance Stroll was ninth for Aston Martin.

“The Q3 was very difficult, I didn’t feel good in the car,” Stroll said. “In the end we couldn’t improve enough.”

After a wild, stormy Friday in Montreal, a mix of sun and clouds made for more favorable conditions Saturday. The rain rolled in briefly before qualifying but subsided.

“It was really challenging, to be honest,” Russell said. “All weekend, every single session and every lap has been changing, the sun comes out, the track temperature warms up, then the clouds come in, it’s spitting, and it’s just really, really difficult to find that sweet spot.”

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