MONTREAL – Max Verstappen drove with extreme poise and skill on Saturday as he claimed pole position for Red Bull ahead of Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg, in a rainswept qualifying session at the Canadian Grand Prix.

The defending double world champion and series leader outpaced the German driver by 1.244 seconds in a very wet top-10 shootout to secure his 25th career pole.

It also completed a hat-trick for the Dutchman after poles in Monaco and Spain.

It will be the third front row starting position for Hulkenberg and the first for the American-owned Haas team.

Two-time champion Fernando Alonso was third-fastest for Aston Martin and will share the second row of the grid with seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes.

George Russell was fifth in the second Mercedes ahead of Esteban Ocon of Alpine, Lando Norris of McLaren, Carlos Sainz of Ferrari and Oscar Piastri in the second McLaren.

Alex Albon was 10th for Williams while both Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc failed to proceed from Q2 for the second consecutive event.

“We made changes after a tricky day yesterday, said Verstappen.

“And it was completely wet but the car felt improved to drive. In these conditions, you have to stay on top of everything as it is super-slippery and but we made all the right calls and I am very happy to be on pole here.

“I’m from Holland so I like driving in the wet.”

Hulkenberg said: “It was a wild and crazy session in changing conditions with the walls so close in the wet – we were changing tyres and the team did a great job.”

Alonso admitted it had been a difficult session in which to choose the right tyres at the right time.

“But we have P3 and we will take that,” he said.

“The fans here are amazing and the city embraces the Grand Prix so I hope they all enjoyed it. If we push, we have a chance tomorrow.”

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