LEWIS HAMILTON’s hopes of taking on the challenge of Max Verstappen were dashed as the Red Bull man took pole at Sunday’s Canadian GP.
The Dutchman set an excellent time and set his fastest lap before it started raining in Montreal.
The last session was abandoned after Oscar Piastri’s accident, but when it started again it was just too wet for the drivers to improve their lap times.
It cost Hamilton, who will start fourth alongside his Mercedes teammate George Russell, who qualified fifth.
Hamilton said: “It was a good result. Most people probably underestimated how hard it was for everyone out there.”
“It’s very difficult to stay on track and deliver when the time comes. It was very slippery and it was difficult to get the tires up to temperature.”
“But I’m grateful for George and I for the result and I hope we can continue from there.” [in the race].
“But we’re ahead of the Ferraris, Max will most likely be gone but if I can hold Fernando Alonso down and give him hell I will.”
Verstappen, who is now targeting his 41st F1 win, which would match Ayrton Senna’s total, said: “It was completely wet but the car has improved and you have to keep up with the conditions.”
“It was super slippery but we made the right decisions at the right time. I like driving in the wet, I’m from Holland, we’re used to it.”
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Nico Hulkenberg was the day’s surprise result as he qualified second alongside Verstappen and he too benefited from setting a lap time before the skies opened up.
The Haas man added: “It was a wild qualifying, with crazy conditions here and the walls so close, but it was fun. Obviously unexpected, but everyone is happy.”
“It’s all about communication and radio calls in this weather and seeing what the other teams are doing, but it’s worked out pretty well.”
Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso was third and said: “It was a difficult qualifying session to choose the right tire at the right time.”
It was another terrible mess from Ferrari, however, as Charles Leclerc missed the top 10 shootout for the second year in a row.
Ferrari changed their strategy in Barcelona and they did the same in Montreal because they were too slow to react to the rain.
And also Red Bull’s under-fire Mexican Sergio Perez was dismissed from Q2 as he did little to ease the pressure building on him as he continued to be crushed by Verstappen.
Pierre Gasly was the biggest loss of FP1 as the Alpine rider was obviously frustrated at not making the top 15.
The Frenchman thrashed in his cockpit when he was blocked by Carlos Sainz on his hot lap, likely to result in a penalty for the Spaniard.
It’s not much of a help to Gasly, who yelled over the team radio: “He should be banned for something like this! I’m going to 300.” [kmh].”
Sainz had just made it into qualifying after crashing his car in the last practice session, causing damage to the front and rear of his car when he crashed into the guard rails.