Formula 1 Racing

Rain and rapid rivals threaten to Russell’s bid to become latest 2024 winner · RaceFans

Daniel Ricciardo, RB, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2024

What is the difference between the two drivers who set identical pole position lap times in yesterday’s qualifying session? The answer, it appears, is Alexander Albon.

George Russell and Max Verstappen could not be separated to within a thousandth of a second over 4.36 kilometres of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve at the end of Q3.

Russell may have been credited with pole after he broke the tie by setting the time earliest, but it was possible that Verstappen should have claimed the spot all along. On their respective laps, Russell received the slightest of benefits from Albon’s Williams returning to the pit lane ahead of him, while the Red Bull ran the entire lap with no cars ahead.

Verstappen was the quicker of the two for the bulk of their laps until they exited the hairpin onto the long back straight. There, the slightest of tows from the Williams helped Russell gain a 6kph top speed advantage before hitting the brakes for the final chicane, allowing him to inch ahead. Although Verstappen gained time back through the chicane, it wasn’t quite enough to regain his advantage, and both drivers registered times of 1’12 on the dot.

Despite all the pre-weekend talk focusing on the threat Red Bull faced from Ferrari and McLaren, Mercedes emerged stronger than all three. Now Russell has an opportunity to end Mercedes’ win drought which stretches back to his 2022 victory in Brazil – the second-longest wait they have endured – and confirm that the remainder of the 2024 season will be exactly what so many had hoped it would be heading into the year.

But at one of the most eventful and unpredictable rounds of the season, where the weather could be set add even more challenge and drama to proceedings, whoever prevails on Sunday is unlikely to have a straightforward journey to the top step of the podium.


Heavy rain fell on Friday – but dried quickly

Perhaps the biggest talking point over the weekend, the rain in Montreal has played a huge role across the opening two days – even if it largely failed to materialise during Saturday’s running.

Forecasts that qualifying would be heavily affected by rain never became true, despite the 80% chance that it would prior to the session. Those same forecasters now predict that rain is just as likely on Sunday as it was on Saturday – but given that the rain did not come when predicted, that could also be a sign that drivers needn’t worry about the weather this weekend.

Assuming it stays dry,…

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