Verstappen leads Leclerc’s wet FP3 while Sainz gets stuck

Max Verstappen sailed to pole position in a wet Formula 1 FP3 session ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix, finding tire grip in challenging conditions to beat Charles Leclerc.

It rained all morning in Montreal creating a series of small puddles around the circuit, while cool conditions resulted in a track temperature of just 17.5°C in the session opener.

Haas pairing Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen were the first to spot the wet track on the all-wet tyre, with Hulkenberg recording a lap of 1min 34.889 seconds moments before Magnussen finished with a lap of 1min 34.797sec.

The pair improved in their next outing, but Fernando Alonso’s opening maneuver of 1m 32.217s was enough to lift him to the top despite facing a “blind” Yuki Tsunoda at the exit of the hairpin.

Esteban Ocon compiled a distance of 1m31.428s to move to the top, moments after Tsunoda narrowly avoided the Turn 4 exit wall after the turn, catching him just in time.

Hulkenberg was back on top with 1m30.721s as time continued to fall, but he was there for a split second as Tsunoda grabbed 1m30.685s to leapfrog the German.

Ocon scored 1m30.348s despite struggling with the final chicane, but Alonso was on the intermediate tire and set the best first and second sectors. The braking area of ​​the hairpin proved more difficult to handle, and she had to escape into the runoff.

Verstappen then collected 1m29.190s to go faster, 0.144 seconds ahead of Leclerc, who challenged a full lap on the medium tyre.

He put 1m28.968s on an intermediate and then Valtteri Bottas on top of the mound, but Alonso finally got the chicane before the start of the finish on the right and got 1m27.517s to throw the gauntlet.

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Carlos Sainz then led his compatriot by 1m 27.245s as the medium tire was now the favorite amongst the field, but he was beaten by more than half a second as teammate Leclerc put his 1m 26.733s on the top shelf.

After a failed effort after making a mistake in sector two, Hulkenberg took another run and beat Leclerc by 0.3 seconds, with Tsunoda moving into second place behind him.

But Leclerc’s 1m25.724s became the new headliner, and Sainz slotted into second, 0.4 seconds behind his fellow Ferrari driver.

Despite complaints about feeling down, Verstappen then threw 1m24.977s to head the top of the mound, but Leclerc shaded him 0.127s back to regain the bragging rights.

Verstappen found nearly four-tenths of the next lap in time to lead the session again, but his efforts to improve on that were paused when Sainz hit the wall moments after moving into second, as he spun in turn 1 to knock out the barrier and knock out his nose.

Thus a red flag was called for service 30 minutes early on the clock, which led to a seven-minute pit stop in the session as Sainz’s car was taken out of Turn 1/2.

After the initial restart laps were spent bringing the intermediate tires into their window, Verstappen improved his time and set 1m24.192s to extend his advantage.

On his next run he raised the bar by 1m23.779s with the line still running dry, then followed that up with a distance of 1m23.154s as he kept his tire heats up.

The Dutchman’s gap settled at 1.6 seconds to the rest of the field, but Leclerc closed that gap to just over 0.2 seconds before Verstappen ran just over his personal best.

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But there was no further improvement as the rain began to build up with 10 minutes to go, clearing the circuit of its drying line and yielding little information before qualifying.

Alonso was third with a time of 1 minute 24.483 seconds, putting Magnussen late in the Danish race in fourth place, ahead of Sainz.

Pierre Gasly spent much of the session’s early stages at the bottom of the timing boards, but the Frenchman pulled the time together enough to claim sixth place, tenth over home favorite Lance Stroll.

Yuki Tsunoda was eighth after keeping the car out of the wall with his laps, while Bottas was ninth after his session ended slightly early with the right wing mirror loose.

Lewis Hamilton completed the top ten, after feeling that the team was “wasting time” running in difficult conditions as it became apparent that he was struggling to run tyres.

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