Rain falling throughout the day in Montreal meant that qualifying took place in wet conditions similar to those of FP3 earlier on Saturday afternoon, which Alonso was leading.
The Alpine driver stunned Sainz to take second with the final timed lap of Q3, where all drivers were fueled to run for the entire session to take advantage of the track drying out and the tires being worked into the optimal working range .
Verstappen was untouchable on the exit, leading from the start in Q3 and he worked the pole benchmark down to 1m21.299s.
Sainz had looked like he could steer Verstappen from close range after setting the fastest early sector on his final lap, but as he remained in contention despite losing a fraction in the middle sector, a big slide on the exit of the last corner meant he had lost enough time for Alonso. ahead of his Spanish compatriot a few moments later.
Lewis Hamilton took fourth place for Mercedes, who split their strategy at the end of the third quarter by installing softs on George Russell’s car, a decision that backfired when the Briton spun in the first corners on his first lap on the slicks.
Russell moved from the top positions to eighth at the end of the third quarter, with Haas duo Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher leading to push the Briton down to fifth and sixth.
Then came Esteban Ocon, while Daniel Ricciardo and Zhou Guanyu completed the top 10.
Zhou is one of many drivers to face post-session investigation for their conduct during a series of off-track moments throughout qualifying or trying to find space in traffic during segments. previous ones.
Q2 started with the drivers split to stay on the full rains used throughout Q1 or switch to intermediates, with Alonso using that compound in the lead at the start of that segment, just before Sergio Perez caused a red flag in the barriers at the 3/4 towers chicane.
The Red Bull rider was also on the inters, but locked up his right front and after ripping off the other front brake, he slid on the grass and quickly headed for the barriers.
Although his car didn’t appear to be massively damaged, Perez took a long time to engage reverse and when he did he couldn’t back out as his nose was buried in the barriers so he was tasked with shutting down his engine, with the barriers then needing to be rearranged once his car was removed without his front wing.
When the session restarted after a 12-minute delay, all of the remaining drivers returned to the intermediates, with a dry line beginning to appear.
Leclerc didn’t bother to join them as on his way to Q2 he secured the start ahead of Yuki Tsunoda at the back of the grid thanks to their engine change grid penalties, but Lando Norris is not no longer appeared at the start of the remaining nine minutes. of Q2.
Norris reported an engine problem before the red flag which confined him to the McLaren garage until just two minutes remained as the team tried to find and correct the problem and, although he went out for a lap, he was quickly ordered to pit again after running several seconds behind.
By not setting a time after the red flag, Norris’ banker’s lap since the start of Q2 left him 14th and behind Perez’s fastest time before his start, with Leclerc taking no part in the middle segment and being therefore eliminated in 15th in front. of his fall on the pre-race grid.
With three cars struggling or not on track, only two drivers were in danger of being eliminated and when Hamilton jumped up the standings with his final lap the pressure was on Alex Albon, Valtteri Bottas and Ocon.
The first two named set personal bests with Bottas ahead, but Ocon’s improvement with the final lap of Q2, which Verstappen overtook, stunned the Finn.
As in Q3 and Q2, all drivers generally raced through the opening segment as times improved by around six seconds as they cleared the water from the racing line, except large puddles of standing water at the tops of the first two corners and the hairpin exit at the end of the lap, with Verstappen in the lead.
Pierre Gasly was eliminated in 16th, AlphaTauri reporting that he suffered a brake problem on this left front wheel, which may have contributed to his stop late in Q1 through the chicane at turns 9/10.
Gasly only exited the track briefly, but by failing to stay to the left of the marker in the runoff before the short straight to the hairpin, he failed to follow the race directors’ instructions and will have to therefore face a post-session investigation.
Sebastian Vettel was frustrated to be eliminated in 17th place after being third in the equally wet FP3 session earlier on Saturday afternoon, with Lance Stroll’s 18th place worsening a miserable qualifying for Aston Martin.
The other home hero, Williams driver Nicholas Latifi, was knocked out in 19th, finishing ahead of Tsunoda, who stopped several minutes before the end of Q1 knowing he would start on the back line anyway.