What To Watch For in the Canadian Grand Prix: Alonso on the front row and Haas chasing double points

From Fernando Alonso back in the front row, to Charles Leclerc starting from the back; and from Sergio Perez with work to do, to Haas looking to capitalize on his best in every qualifying, we’ve picked out some of the key aspects to look out for when the lights go out at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve…

1. Fernando in the front row

Amazingly, it’s been almost a decade since Fernando Alonso last qualified on the front row for a Formula 1 race, the 2012 German Grand Prix – when he was on pole position – on the previous occasion. His wait for such a starting position came to an end with a stunning qualifying performance in Canada, and he also has high hopes for the opening lap of the race.

Alonso says his aim is to lead in the first round, saying it would be “sweet” to edge out Max Verstappen early on. It could also be crucial for the overall image of the race, as it would push Verstappen back into the clutches of Carlos Sainz, who is his biggest threat at this stage.

READ MORE: Verstappen braves wet conditions to claim Canadian GP pole ahead of sensational Alonso

Although Alonso may have this dream in mind, whatever he does will be crucial. If Verstappen retains the lead, Sainz will need to clear his fellow Spaniard quickly in order to pursue the Red Bull driver, who was supreme in the wet but unlikely to retain the same advantage if the race turns out to be dry.

That’s easier said than done, though, with the Alpine fast on the straights and Alonso still a tenacious rider no matter what position, let alone when he’s in the lead.

2022 Canadian GP qualifying: Fernando Alonso celebrates stunning P2

2. Leclerc charged

The fallout from Charles Leclerc’s Baku retirement continues, with the Ferrari driver losing the faulty engine and having to take on a number of new components. The team decided that the best place to do it is here in Montreal, where overtaking is possible.

WATCH: ‘Hopefully we can get through the peloton’ – Leclerc prepares for the back row start of the Canadian Grand Prix

So Leclerc took on a full new power unit, adding a back start alongside Yuki Tsunoda, who has the same penalty.

It’s the first time this season that we’ll see one of the two fastest teams – Ferrari or Red Bull – having to start a race from the back of the grid and work their way through the midfield teams in cars that are easier to track and race with.

Charles Leclerc will have to fight his way through the field after picking up an engine penalty in Canada

Leclerc’s season has quickly turned around since he was comfortably leading the championship after Australia, and now he faces a race weekend where he has to try to limit the damage as he sits 34 points adrift. Max Verstappen in the driver standings.

But he certainly has a car fast enough to progress, with a new power unit in the back of a Ferrari that has been on pole position in six of the nine races so far this season, and was obviously not in the mix for pole given the penalty this weekend. The time for the Monegasque to deliver a load on the ground…

3. Perez with work to do

Things weren’t much better for Sergio Perez in qualifying, although his early exit was much more unexpected. In a wet second part of the session, the Mexican went straight into Turn 3 and rammed the nose of his Red Bull into the barrier.

Unable to reverse, Perez was eliminated in 13th place, saved another grid position by a problem for Lando Norris which saw the McLaren driver unable to set a time at all.

READ MORE: Pole sitter Verstappen expects tough battle with Ferrari at Canadian GP after claiming pole, as Perez admits ‘I screwed up’

Perez took a long walk to the pits after nerfing the barriers in qualifying

The Red Bull is a very fast car and Perez has been confident behind the wheel so far this season, but he now faces a similar scenario to Leclerc, albeit from a slightly better starting position.

Perez will need to make rapid progress early on, however, or he could find himself in a fight with the Ferrari as the race unfolds.

4. Hamilton’s chances of their best grid position of the year

It’s quite remarkable to think about, but Mercedes’ struggles so far this season have made Lewis Hamilton’s fourth-place finish in qualifying his best performance of the year. That’s right, the driver with the most pole positions in the sport’s history wasn’t even on the second row until now in 2022.

And Hamilton was duly delighted with such a result, having really struggled with his car’s handling on Friday. It also gives the Mercedes drivers a very good chance of scoring solid points, with Perez and Leclerc facing their battles through the field and a potentially slower car in terms of race pace ahead of him in the form of the Alpine d. ‘Alonso.

WATCH: ‘I didn’t even know I was fighting for top spots’ in Montreal qualifying, says Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton will start the race from the second row

Hamilton has already grabbed a podium, but it’s been a long time in the season-opening race in Bahrain, so he’ll be looking to put himself in position to chase another top three finish. And that could involve another classic Alonso vs. Hamilton battle when there’s a trophy at stake.

Behind them, it is also worth keeping an eye on George Russell. The other Mercedes driver opted to go for slicks in Q3 and ended up not improving after sliding off the track, leaving him eighth on the grid. If his streak of finishing every race in the top five this season is going to continue, he’s going to have to take some steps.

HIGHLIGHTS: Watch the action from a wet qualifying session in Montreal, as Verstappen dominates in the rain

Haas has two cars on the third row in Canada

5. Haas aims for double the points

The best results also continued, with Haas getting his best performance in qualifying with both cars in the top six in Montreal. Kevin Magnussen led the way with fifth, but Mick Schumacher celebrates his highest position on the grid by far, a position that puts him within reach of his first-ever points result.

Haas had some extremely strong moments this year but was unable to always capitalize for one reason or another, and slipped to eighth in the constructors’ championship after four races without a point.

Both drivers are well aware that there are faster cars behind them, but in such a competitive midfield, starting position can be crucial and the aim must surely be to end that lack of points, and ideally with both cars. for the first time since Germany in 2019.

READ MORE: ‘I love these conditions,’ says Magnussen, after Haas blocks third row in Montreal

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