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Formula 1

Who missed the chance to cause a shock in Canada qualifying?

by Josh Suttill
5 min read

The likes of Fernando Alonso and Mick Schumacher excelled in a thrilling wet Canadian Grand Prix qualifying, but inevitably not everybody was able to capitalise on the biggest opportunity for a shock result that the 2022 Formula 1 season has produced so far.

We’ve covered George Russell’s failed slick tyre gamble and the underdog performance that inspired that, as well as what caused Aston Martin to turn a highly promising practice into a miserably underwhelming qualifying.

But they were far from the only drivers to underachieve and miss an opportunity to secure a solid grid slot for Sunday’s race.


Esteban Ocon Alpine F1 Canadian GP

While seventh place might mark Esteban Ocon’s second-best qualifying of the season, he’s understandably “not satisfied” being five places behind his Alpine team-mate Fernando Alonso with a Q3 lap that was over a second and a half slower than the Spaniard’s best.

“Since the beginning of the weekend, we’re on the back foot,” Ocon explained after qualifying.

“We have some kind of issue that we need to find since this weekend.

“We’re usually pretty matched with Fernando, but that time, we were very far [off]. The performance is there somewhere so it’s up to us to find what the issue is.”

Ocon said he’s seen “huge differences” in terms of the minimum speed through corners and joked that if he really is up to four tenths slower than Alonso in one corner, he “should retire”.

A mystifying mid-season deficit to his Alpine team-mate Alonso is not a storyline Ocon needs a repeat of.

He also recognised there is a “big opportunity” this weekend for an Alpine team that has overhauled Alpha Romeo for fifth place in the constructors’ championship and has a chance to make serious inroads into McLaren’s fourth place if it can convert a double top-seven start into solid points on Sunday.


Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo F1 Canadian GP

For the second successive weekend, Valtteri Bottas was outqualified by his rookie team-mate Zhou Guanyu and his absence from Q3 stretches to three races.

On Friday in Montreal, Bottas said Alfa Romeo had identified the suspension problems that caused his Baku struggles but he then missed out on running in FP2 because of a technical issue and then, come qualifying, Bottas once again seemed bizarrely off the pace.

Zhou kept his nose clean and did a stellar job to reach Q3 for the first time, while Bottas fell 0.104s short of a place in the top 10 shootout.

“I was just a bit unlucky with the timings, the car felt really good in wet conditions, just a bit unlucky,” Bottas said. “The track was improving a lot with every lap, so getting another lap in would have a pretty huge impact.”

Bottas was the second driver to take the chequered flag at the end of Q2 and lost a heap of time on his final flying lap by locking the inside front tyre into Turn 1 and running a compromised line through Turn 2.

That mistake probably made the difference between Q2 and Q3 and means Bottas will start his eighth Canadian GP from 11th on the grid.


Sergio Perez Red Bull crash F1 Canadian GP

Sergio Perez’s second qualifying crash in three races scuppers Red Bull’s golden chance to have two-against-one on Sunday with Charles Leclerc at the back of the field with engine penalties.

It was a simple enough error at Turn 3 on the intermediate tyre that had only just become the right one for the track.

“It’s very frustrating, a bad day for myself – I let my team down and I’m very sorry,” was Perez’s post-qualifying verdict.

“I should have just waited and taken things a bit more cautiously at the time. But I was just trying to put temperature into the tyres and unfortunately, I went over the limit and then I became a passenger.

“But now I need to focus on tomorrow and try to minimise the damage.”

Perez will start Sunday’s race from 13th on the grid and his primary goal will surely be to keep Charles Leclerc behind him, no matter how far forward he manages to spring.

He’ll also have to ensure that the momentum from his recent purple patch – which included signing a new two-year deal – isn’t derailed by an off-weekend in Montreal.


Lando Norris McLaren F1 Canadian GP

Lando Norris never looked comfortable in qualifying and by the end of Q2, it was clear why that was – a power unit issue that meant repeating his wet Sochi qualifying heroics was never on the cards.

“A bit of a shame, but that’s life and we move on for tomorrow,” Norris simply said after qualifying.

A sensor issue on the power unit caused Norris’s Mercedes engine to misfire and that leaves him 14th on the grid – five places behind his McLaren team-mate Daniel Ricciardo – and with plenty of work to do on Sunday.

“From 14th, just getting into the points is a good start,” Norris added.

“I want to be optimistic, I want to be hopeful that we can do something good. There are plenty of things to do for strategy or at least try, so we will come up with our best shot of what we think will give us that best chance and will go with it.”


Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri F1 Canadian GP

Pierre Gasly put his third Q1 exit of the season down to his brakes “switching off”.

“I had no front left brake,” Gasly explained.

“I could not slow down the car, I was messing around with the rear brakes. So I was sideways in all the entries, just a complete disaster because this morning was great in these conditions with the second-fastest lap.

“The start of the session was decent, we should have gone through easy and [I’m] just extremely disappointed to completely miss this qualifying.”

Gasly said it was even more frustrating to have come within a tenth of Alonso in third practice considering where the Spaniard would qualify.

His Baku weekend delivered what appeared to be a breakthrough following a sloppy start to 2022 for a Gasly/AlphaTauri combo that was one of the 2021 midfield’s most efficient operators.

But this latest qualifying “disaster” suggests the team still has plenty of problems to fix, and AlphaTauri’s plight is made even worse by Gasly’s team-mate Yuki Tsunoda having to start from the back due to the poor reliability on his side of the garage so far this season.

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