Formula 1 Racing

Verstappen and Russell created F1’s 16th tie for pole position · RaceFans

Stirling Moss, Mike Hawthorn, Silverstone, 1956

Max Verstappen was denied his eighth pole position this year by the smallest margin possible under Formula 1’s rules.

The Red Bull driver matched George Russell’s provisional pole position time – a numerically satisfying 1’12.000 – to within three thousandths of a second.

Under a long-standing F1 rule, Russell was declared the pole winner because he set the lap time first. This rule has only been invoked once before in almost 50 years.

That occasion was the famous three-way tie for pole position at the 1997 European Grand Prix. The circumstances of this tie were so outrageous it provoked outlandish claims it had somehow been rigged. Not only did Jacques Villeneuve and Michael Schumacher produce the same lap time as they fought over the championship at the final race of the year, but so did Heinz-Harald Frentzen.

Silverstone produced three pole ties, including one for Moss

However drivers producing equal times for pole position was more common when F1 did not measure lap times as accurately. Over the years before lap times were measured to three decimal places, two or more drivers shared pole position on 14 occasions.

Back then the vagaries of different local racing organisations dictated how accurately lap times were measured. Most tracks timed cars to one decimal place, but this wasn’t done at Spa-Francorchamps in the first year of the world championship, Giuseppe Farina and Juan Manuel Fangio shared fastest times of four minutes and 37 seconds around the 14-kilometre circuit.

Silverstone saw the most pole position ties, two of which occured when lap times were only measured to the second. But even as timing to one decimal place became common, ties continued to happen.

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A record four-way tie for pole position occured at another British Grand Prix venue, Aintree, in 1961. Three of the four Ferrari drivers produced the same time (Giancarlo Baghetti was several seconds off his team mates) along with Porsche’s Jo Bonnier.

Michael Schumacher collides with Jacques Villeneuve
Flashback: 1997 European Grand Prix – Villeneuve takes title as Schumacher’s attack gets him thrown out

This is the second time drivers have tied for pole position at the Canadian Grand Prix, though it has never previously happened at this track. The pole-winners tied at the first of F1’s two visits to Mont Tremblant, a picturesque road circuit just 100 kilometres north-west of Montreal, which was later owned by Lance Stroll’s father Lawrence.

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