Formula 1

2024 Canadian Grand Prix: What the Drivers are Saying after Qualifying

12 Mins read
Photo: LAT Images

George Russell took pole position for the 2024 Canadian Grand Prix after a dead heat with current FIA Formula 1 World Drivers’ Championship leader Max Verstappen.

The Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team driver will be searching for his first win since the 2022 São Paulo Grand Prix, and race day on Sunday will present him with an excellent chance to do so if he navigates his way through potential difficult conditions with rain expected.

Qualifying brought a number of impressive performances, including Daniel Ricciardo, who secured his best qualifying result of the season, while Lance Stroll qualified in the top ten for the first time at his home circuit.

Read what the drivers had to say below:

George Russell — Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team — 1st

“It’s been a great day! It was such a tight fight for pole position. The previous few races I’ve been a matter of hundredths of a second behind the car ahead, so it’s nice to be on the upside of that today! In the end, Q3 was difficult. I did my best lap of the session in Q2, and I didn’t improve on my last lap in Q3. 

“I wasn’t sure therefore whether I had taken pole position as I crossed the line. The new tyre is usually worth three to four tenths of a second but thankfully, my first run on the used tyre was good enough for P1. The car has been so good this weekend. 

“Everyone at Brackley and Brixworth has been working so hard to bring updates and performance. This hard work is now translating into results which is fantastic to see. It’s only been two races and on unique circuits, but the steps we’ve taken to get closer to the front are encouraging. Let’s see what we can do tomorrow now. 

“We will be aiming for victory but there are plenty of unknowns with this new surface and the weather. I’m feeling confident in the car and in myself though so bring it on!”

Max Verstappen — Oracle Red Bull Racing — 2nd

“I’m happy to be on the front row for tomorrow’s race and it was certainly more than I thought was possible after FP3. We always knew this track was going to be a bit more tricky than others and it seems that a lot of the teams are catching up. 

“Today it was about managing the tyres with the graining, but if you look at the pace we did well and improved nicely every run. We tried to do the best we can and just need to make sure we have a cleaner weekend as we have been slightly on the back foot. Looking to tomorrow, I think it will come down to the weather and tyre behaviour. 

“The rain will make it more interesting, especially with the tarmac making it more slippery, the chicanes and the close walls. It has been a difficult weekend, but considering everything we definitely maximised the result in qualifying and I am looking forward to tomorrow.”

Lando Norris — McLaren F1 Team — 3rd

A great job done by the team today and congratulations to George Russell on his pole position. The session was tricky, it always is in Montréal, but it’s why we love it and it’s why we’re all smiling. It’s a nice feeling when you put a good lap in and end up in the top three.

“I’m excited to see what we can do in the race. The car has been great in the last three or four races and we’re on a roll. There are fast cars ahead and plenty behind us as well so I think we could be in for an exciting one. We’ll get our heads down overnight and see what we can do to move forward tomorrow.” 

Oscar Piastri — McLaren F1 Team — 4th

“P4. A very tight and difficult session but a fun one. I think many people are leaving thinking they could be on pole, and I’m one of them, but that’s a positive sign in terms of pace. It’s another start towards the front and we’ll see what we can do tomorrow. 

“We have good consistency, and we have the benefit of having two cars starting together, which is always a positive from the strategy side. Let’s see what we can do tomorrow. I am looking forward to it.” 

Daniel Ricciardo — Visa Cash App RB — 5th

“I’m very pleased about today. It’s been a really good weekend, a lot of fun, and one of those ones where everything’s just feeling good. We are less than two-tenths from pole, and even if it’s not today’s case, sometimes this means being on the front row, so it’s nice being competitive and feeling comfortable in the car. 

“In Q3 it was very important to have a fast warm-up lap and this is what I told the team. I did it and then had the right confidence for the push lap. It was nice to put the lap together, but I’m not surprised, I know when I feel like this, I can do these things. I’m happy that I was able to get it out of myself, but happy and credit to the team, both cars going into Q3 and happy to reward them with a very nice result. 

“I always feel something special coming here to Montréal and I’ve got good memories: exactly ten years ago I got my first win here and my life changed. Also, the team feels there’s some good energy this weekend, so happy to convert that into some good driving. Tomorrow, we start in a good spot inside the top 5, with some good front-running guys around me, so I’ll get the best out of myself during the race.”

Fernando Alonso — Aston Martin Armaco F1 Team — 6th

“It was a very unpredictable Qualifying session with the constant threat of rain lingering, but I think we have to be happy with both cars in Q3 in these conditions. After the last two events I was out in Q1, so starting in sixth position gives us a good chance of scoring points tomorrow. 

“I don’t think I did a perfect lap in Q3 and when you see at the end that I was only two tenths from pole position it hurts a little bit. In general the car has felt a little better this weekend and tomorrow we will see how we manage the tyres and pace as we haven’t had a lot of long runs in the dry. 

“If it rains tomorrow, it could be decided by fine margins and who switches the tyres at the right time, so we have to be prepared for everything.”  

Lewis Hamilton — Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team — 7th

Firstly, congratulations to George. It is amazing for the team to take pole position. Everyone at Brackley and Brixworth has done such a great job pushing the car and its development forward. They have worked tirelessly to bring the recent updates. 

“It’s been feeling great all weekend so, despite starting P7, I hope we can have a decent race. It is tough to overtake here and the cars ahead are quite close so it will be challenging, but I’ll be doing my best.    

“It was a tough session on my side. We were quick in FP3, but I struggled a little more in Qualifying. I found it difficult to get the tyres working throughout and that was the same on my final lap in Q3. Let’s see what tomorrow brings and if we can make progress.”

Yuki Tsunoda — Visa Cash App RB — 8th

“As you can see in the result, the team did a fantastic job, and it was a successful day for us. For myself, considering I was struggling in Free Practice, it was a very good turnaround for qualifying. I had an unfortunate gust of wind in Turn 2 and lost a lot of lap time there, but still, another Q3 is not bad. 

“So far, it’s been an enjoyable race weekend, with many ups and downs which have challenged me, but at the same time, if we can turn it around to this it’s always a good feeling, and that’s credit to the team. 

“We’ll see how it goes with the weather tomorrow, but we have a good car and obviously want more points in the bag, so we aim to finish in the top ten with both cars.”

Lance Stroll — Aston Martin Armaco F1 Team — 9th

“Getting through to Q3 is a positive result, but I think more was possible today. I had a bit of contact with the wall during Q1 which I think might have caused some damage as the behaviour of the car wasn’t quite right after that. 

“Still, we’re in a good place to score some strong points in front of my home crowd tomorrow. The Montréal weather could throw anything our way, so we’ll do our homework tonight and make sure we’re ready to make the most of any opportunities during the race.” 

Photo: Aston Martin F1 Team

Alex Albon — Williams Racing — 10th

“A frustrating Saturday. We did a small set-up change before Qualifying and the car felt good from the get-go. We had strong pace in Q1 and Q2, but we tried a different run-plan in Q3 which didn’t work out for us. 

“The shower of rain between sessions dropped the track temperature and we struggled to warm up the tyres, compromising our final Q3 attempt.   

“Tomorrow will be challenging with two Ferraris behind, but equally I think we have a race in front of us with the Aston Martins and RBs. Overall, it’s positive to have two Q3 appearances in a row and I think rain tomorrow will create some good opportunities for us.

Charles Leclerc — Scuderia Ferrari — 11th

“We have to review this qualifying session and FP3, as we simply weren’t at the level we need to be. Tyre management will play a big role in the race so we have to focus on that and will push to gain positions tomorrow. With mixed weather conditions, there may be some opportunities coming our way and we must be ready to make the most of them.”

Carlos Sainz Jr — Scuderia Ferrari — 12th

“It’s been a tough Saturday for us. We had trouble with grip and couldn’t get the tyres to work properly. On the last lap in Q2 I tried everything but unfortunately I didn’t nail the last corner and that’s where I lost my chances of advancing to Q3. I stay positive for tomorrow and I think we can still bring home some good points. We will give it our best shot.”

Logan Sargeant — Williams Racing — 13th

“It’s little bit frustrating as I got held up on my best lap. I actually gained a tenth and a half on myself. If I had that time, I would’ve been straight through to Q3 which is disappointing as you know it’s been left on the table. 

“Nonetheless it’s been another solid weekend considering the conditions and how we’ve adapted. Our car pace is a little bit better here which elevates us as a team. I feel like I’ve been driving well with the package I have at the moment.  

“We’re in a position that we can definitely fight from tomorrow. I’m sure it’s going to be a tricky day with most likely changing conditions through the race. We’ve managed it well so far and we’ll try to keep doing the same.”

Kevin Magnussen — MoneyGram Haas F1 Team — 14th

“There was no traffic for me today which was nice. I think we thought the rain was going to come in Q2, so we went out on a new set at the beginning, which meant if the rain didn’t come, that wasn’t going to be great as with track evolution, you wouldn’t have your new tires for the end.

“Unfortunately, that rain didn’t come, so the lap I did on my first run was a really good lap, so given the tire choices we made, I think it was the best we could do. 

“I’m slightly optimistic, the long run pace looked decent, albeit it was in the dry, so let’s see what the weather does tomorrow, we should be in contention no matter what.” 

Pierre Gasly — BWT Alpine F1 Team — 15th

“My laps in Q1 and Q2 felt decent today, so I was a bit surprised it was only enough to qualify P15 in the end. The reality is that this was just simply what we could extract out of the car today. Obviously, it is difficult to be satisfied with this result. 

“We know where we stand in terms of performance and the areas where the car lacks, so for the time being we will need to put our heads down and be patient. The team is working hard in the background to improve the overall package. Until then we need to maximise what we can out of the current set-up. 

“Tomorrow will not be an easy race for us. I am hoping for rain and some opportunities for us that will mean we can get closer to the top 10 and fight for points, given how close the mid-field is.”

Sergio Pérez — Oracle Red Bull Racing — 16th

“In these conditions somehow, we weren’t able to switch on the rear axle, I couldn’t lean on it at all and I didn’t have any confidence at the time to push. Basically, I had no grip, I was sliding too much and that meant our qualifying was a total disaster. 

“We need to look at it and understand the reason behind it, it was stepping away from me all the time. In hindsight we could have done a lot of different things but at the end of the day we lacked some pace, simple as that. There are some fundamental issues that we need to address, understand, and figure out, to make sure we are able to improve in the coming races. 

“I am angry with myself; we are a Team and it is not an ideal time for us but we have full focus on tomorrow and hopefully we are able to save something and score some points. The weather can hopefully help us, it can make things unpredictable, and we will see what we can do with the strategy as well.”

Valtteri Bottas — Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber — 17th

“We were definitely close to Q2 today, just about hundredths of a second away from making the cut – which obviously leaves us with the feeling we could have achieved something more. The last push lap was really clean, actually the cleanest I have had this weekend so far, and the balance was decent as well; it didn’t feel like we could squeeze much more out of that. 

“In terms of track conditions, they were slippery at first, but it gradually improved. Unfortunately, we are still slightly struggling in terms of single-lap pace – that’s mostly it. 

“Going into Sunday, I think we can be a bit more optimistic: it surely is a track that offers more opportunities for a shake-up than Monaco; the field is once again super close, so it’ll hopefully be an exciting race. 

“On top of that, the weather can also play a part here – I’m rooting for mixed conditions or some rain, which would help us progress further. There will be opportunities, and we’ll try the best we can to make the most of them.”

Esteban Ocon — BWT Alpine F1 Team — 18th (will start 20th due to a grid penalty from the Monaco Grand Prix)

“It was a super tight session out there today and we did not do enough to get through to Q2 in Qualifying this afternoon. Unfortunately, I lost a tenth in Turn 6 and 7 with another driver in front quite close, and the start of my lap was also compromised picking up dirt after moving off-line during my prep lap. 

“Tomorrow we will try to do the best we can and hopefully it is going to be a clean race, where we can optimise the strategy and move closer to the points. It is going to be tough but we will do our best.”

Nico Hülkenberg — MoneyGram Haas F1 Team — 19th (will start 18th due to Ocon’s grid penalty)

“I think we went out a bit late, we changed the rear wing going into qualifying because I haven’t been happy with the car all weekend and I had a problem with the rear wing where it wasn’t performing as it should, so we decided to change it before qualifying. 

“That meant our entire run plan got out of sequence a bit, so we were on the back foot with timings, and it got busy and hectic. Towards the end I also had someone impeding, parked at the last chicane, so all together it made it a bit difficult.”

Guanyu Zhou — Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber — 20th (will start 19th due to Ocon’s grid penalty)

“Today was quite tricky – coming into qualifying without preparation on dry laps is never easy. During the morning session, I had a moment that ended FP3 early for me, and while I was able to gain more and more time on every qualifying lap, it wasn’t enough to catch up on my missed session. 

“The field is still very close, and I reckon we’re not far off our competition but, given the lack of running, I wasn’t able to find the perfect rhythm. Tomorrow is a new day, and we’ll continue working to make up some ground. 

“This is a place where overtaking is possible, and we’ll give it a good go.”

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