Christian Horner speaks: “Fernando is going to be going for it, so we’ve just got to try to get clear of that as soon as we can. You’ve just got to get on with your own thing. We can’t spend time worrying about what Fernando is going to do. Hopefully he’s sensible we’ve just got to get stuck in, and for Checo likewise.”
Zhou Guanyu delivered the best qualifying performance of his career yesterday and wants to make good on that today.
“It was a good day yesterday. Especially considering the conditions. Here we are, best position for the start, and the target is still to get into the points with both cars today.
“There are a few cars ahead of us maybe who are a little bit slower than us, but of course there’s a Red Bull and Ferrari behind us who will be going through the pack pretty quick.”
Some pre-race reading, on the endangerment of F1’s European leg:
Another victim of yesterday’s conditions was Sergio Perez – second in the drivers’ standings – who crashed out in Q2 and will start back in 13th today. “I did a mistake from my side so I’m very sorry for my team,” he wailed afterwards. “I let them down today unfortunately.” With he and Leclerc starting down the field, and Mercedes still yet to overcome their aerodynamical headaches, could Alonso steal a rare podium finish? His last was in Qatar last year, which in turn was his first for 105 races. An outright triumph today would make him the oldest winner since Nigel Mansell in 1994.
Some positive meteorological news, too, in that yesterday’s deluges are nowhere to be seen. The rain has gone, so have the clouds and the cooler temperatures. Montreal is 18 degrees and sunny on race day.
The star of the show during yesterday’s qualifying was undoubtedly Fernando Alonso, who screeched around a tricky circuit to land his first front-row start for a decade – though he was careful to strike a modest note afterwards.
“It was not a normal qualifying or not a normal day,” he said. “FP1, we had a very dirty track. Very clean track. FP2, it was getting grippier and more normal. FP3 was wet and qualifying was just semi-dry. So we never had two consecutive sessions with the same conditions so you really had to adapt very fast to those new conditions that you are facing.
“So it seems that we had the right confidence in the car, and a good set-up. So I think it’s down to the team 50% and down to the driver that everything was OK today but it doesn’t mean anything because I said the race is tomorrow and you make a mistake and you have zero points.”
Here’s our report from yesterday’s qualifying:
A penny for the thoughts of Charles Leclerc. Two months ago the Monegasque was coasting away from the chasing pack, looking every bit the champion-in-waiting after two wins from the first three races took him 34 points clear in the drivers’ championship – and 46 clear of his most obvious title rival in Max Verstappen.
But two months is a long time in Formula One, as the saying doesn’t go, and poor Leclerc goes into today’s Canadian GP having to treat it as a damage-limitation exercise for his title hopes. A frankly ludicrous 80-point swing over the last five races has taken Verstappen to the top of the leaderboard, where he is joined by teammate Sergio Perez. And at the start line in Montreal, Leclerc will be watching Verstappen through a sea of traffic having been consigned to the back of the grid and penalised for using too many power-unit components. What’s Monegasque for sacré bleu?
Lewis Hamilton, who spent the week being treated for back injuries sustained from all that bouncing on the Baku straights, comes into the race after his best qualifying of the season so far – though his hopes of troubling Verstappen’s Red Bull from fourth are slim indeed.
Alongside Verstappen in the front row will be Fernando Alonso, 40 years young, who rolled back the years in qualifying, jinxing around a wet track and power-sliding his Alpine out of the last corner to cap a majestic lap. And the Spaniard has made no secret of disguising his plans for today. “The goal is to lead the race in lap one,” he says. “Turn one: maximum attack.”
It should be good. Strap in. Lights out at 19:00 BST.