Max Verstappen
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Starting from pole in Canada: Max Verstappen. © Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press/AP/dpa

Verstappen drives ahead. Pole for the defending champion. And the rivals are far away. An old master made it to second place. Things are also going well for Mick Schumacher.

Montréal – Max Verstappen has set course for his next win on the wet and slippery course in Montréal. The world championship leader and defending champion confidently grabbed pole position for the Canadian Grand Prix.

“I’m super happy,” said Verstappen. In Saturday’s qualifying, he relegated 40-year-old two-time Alpine champion Fernando Alonso to second place in the Red Bull on his second pole of the year and 15th of his career. “We will attack Max in the first corner,” announced the Spaniard with a grin. Third was Carlos Sainz in Ferrari ahead of record world champion Lewis Hamilton in Mercedes.

Schumacher in top ten

Mick Schumacher also made it into the top ten. Starting from sixth on the grid, the 23-year-old Haas driver can also hope for his first points in the premier class of motorsport after his best qualifying so far. “It felt very good from the first lap,” he said on Sky Sport. “Hopefully we can stay in that position if we don’t get a little further forward.”

World Championship runner-up Sergio Perez came off the course prematurely on the slippery track and crashed into the barriers in the second run. Chaser Charles Leclerc didn’t try too hard at first. After four poles in a row without a win, the 24-year-old from Monaco, third in the world championship, found the knockout elimination a practice session.

Due to the change of various engine parts, Leclerc has to start in his Ferrari from the end of the field this Sunday (8 p.m. CEST / Sky). After 15th place, he got out of his car prematurely. Sebastian Vettel will not be much further ahead, the four-time champion disappointed after promising training impressions as 17th with his Aston Martin.

After the sunny and warm start on Friday, Montréal showed its unpredictable side. It was significantly cooler with an outside temperature of just twelve degrees – and it was really wet at first. Another challenge on the course with millimeter work, among other things, on the legendary “Wall of Champions”.

The riders started out on the fast Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on the rain tires and they all came when it got going. The risk that there would be no more opportunities for a fast lap due to a crash was too great.

The fans sat in rain capes in the stands, and visibility on the track was anything but good for the drivers. “I can’t see much in front of me,” Hamilton radioed. There was a lively change in the first places. It quickly became tight for Vettel, who had previously finished third in free practice under the same conditions. Too tight, Vettel retired. “It can’t be,” he radioed to his command post and complained that it was so different from free practice. “I had no grip,” he emphasized, and cried out plaintively: “Oh, maaaaaan.”

Before the ninth race of the season, Verstappen leads the classification with 150 points. Perez comes to 129 points, Leclerc to 116. dpa

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