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Fernando Alonso has cheekily promised that he will make a move on Max Verstappen in the first corner for Sunday’s Canadian Grand Prix after qualifying second with a “mega” drive in the wet. Alpine had looked impressive throughout free practice, but it was still expected to be a straight shoot out between the two Red Bull drivers and Carlos Sainz.
But Sergio Perez crashed out in Q2, opening the door for someone else to clinch a place further up the grid for Sunday. Mercedes duo George Russell and Lewis Hamilton were doing everything they could to close the gap to Verstappen and Sainz.
Russell even made the bold move to put on soft tyres for his final run, sensing the track drying up in certain areas. The move didn’t pay off as intermediates were clearly still the tyre to go with as Verstappen was showing.
Sainz and Verstappen looked as though they had claimed the front row, with the latter on pole. But Alonso was on a flying lap still and the 40-year-old put in a scintilating lap to squeeze ahead of Sainz.
Sunday’s race is set to be dry, meaning Alpine may not be as close to Red Bull and Ferrari tomorrow. However, Alonso was clearly buzzing from his qualifying performance and has his sights set on taking the lead from Verstappen early.
“Lets see, I think I will attack Max in the first corner,” Alonso said with a wink. He added: “It feels great, it was an unbelievable weekend so far for us to be competitive.
“Thanks to the wet conditions today the car was mega. I was so comfortable with driving this car and I think the fans also pushed me to make that extra push.
Alonso was nearly two seconds ahead of his team-mate Esteban Ocon, who qualified seventh. It was also a better qualifying for Hamilton than recent weeks as he put his Mercedes ahead of both Haas drivers to start on the second row alongside Sainz.
Russell’s decision to go onto softs may have cost him a chance of taking fourth or even higher, but still has a chance of taking solid points from eighth. Daniel Ricciardo did just enough to pip Guanyu Zhou for ninth, but there will be some pressure on Perez, down in 13th, to battle through the pack on Sunday.
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