In the rain chaos in Montreal, Nico Hülkenberg stunned Formula 1 and started second in the Canadian Grand Prix. In the turbulent qualification in Montreal, the Haas driver only had to admit defeat to the overwhelming world championship leader Max Verstappen.
"It's a bit unexpected, but I'm very happy and proud," said Hulkenberg. After his sensational pole position in the Williams 2010 in Brazil, it is the best result for the Rhinelander in a race for a place in the premier class. Third was Fernando Alonso in the Aston Martin ahead of the Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and George Russell.
Hulkenberg benefited from the fact that qualifying was interrupted immediately after his fastest lap due to an accident by McLaren driver Oscar Piastri. Because the weather didn't improve, none of the competitors was able to overtake the 35-year-old Rhinelander on the soaking wet track. "It was a wild qualifier, pretty crazy," he said.
The Canadian weekend got off to a bad start for the driver from Emmerich with a major engine failure in Friday practice. "I'll just go out there and give it my all," said Hülkenberg, describing his motto for the eighth race of the season on Sunday (8 p.m. / Sky).
Weather remains a big topic
Formula 1 is experiencing a changeable weekend in Montreal. Already on Friday the pilots had to deal with some adversities. The first practice session had to be interrupted after four minutes for safety reasons and finally canceled because the video surveillance of the track wasn't working. A power failure was probably the cause of the technical breakdown.
In the final practice session on Saturday, the constant rain presented the drivers and teams with a new challenge. On the very uneven track, many drivers had trouble steering their company car over a fast lap without having an accident. Spaniard Carlos Sainz lost control of his Ferrari in turn one and crashed heavily into the gang. In the two hours before qualifying, however, his mechanics were able to get the car roadworthy again.
Once again the question was whether the competition could slow down the series winners from Red Bull. The world champion team has won all seven races of the season so far this year, five of them by Verstappen alone. With three wins in a row, the Dutchman extended his lead in the overall standings over team-mate Sergio Perez to 53 points. Only at the guest appearance in Baku at the end of April was a driver from another racing team on pole position in Ferrari star Leclerc.
Leclerc and Perez mess up when it comes to tire choice
Double world champion Verstappen can celebrate his 41st Grand Prix victory in Canada and thus catch up with Brazilian legend Ayrton Senna. On a wet track, however, a difficult qualification initially stood in the way. Shortly after the start there were red flags because the Chinese Zhou Guanyu stopped in his Alfa Romeo with a technical defect.
In the hustle and bustle after the restart, Verstappen stayed cool and raced into the second lap with the best time. For Hülkenberg, 15th was just enough for the next section. There, the events finally became a gamble with tires and weather. The big losers were Vice World Champion Leclerc and World Cup runner-up Perez. Both gambled their choice of tires and missed out on a place in the top ten. Hulkenberg advanced in eighth place.
As the fastest, Williams driver Alexander Albon surprisingly made it into the finale of the starting place hunt. But when it got really serious, Verstappen showed his whole class. "I'm from the Netherlands, we're used to rain," said the 25-year-old. In the front row, he gets unusual company this time in rain artist Hülkenberg.