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George Russell takes pole at Canadian Grand Prix after rare 'dead heat' with Max Verstappen

“First of all congratulations to George,” Hamilton said afterwards. “The car had been feeling great all weekend, but as soon as qualifying came along that vanished. The grip just went.”

At least Hamilton made it through to the top 10 shoot-out. Sergio Perez, who has just been handed a two-year contract extension by Red Bull, failed to make it into Q2 for the second consecutive race. There was a further shock in that session with both Ferraris failing to make it into Q3.

Mercedes have so often been the ‘heavyweight casualty’ in qualifying this season. But this time they can dream of Sunday glory, albeit team principal Toto Wolff was not getting carried away. “One swallow doesn’t make a summer,” the Austrian warned.

Russell seemed happier to dream. “It feels so good, so much hard work back at the factory has gone into this,” he beamed. “We said it in Monaco but we hope this is the start of something for our season and I think it is. I’ve missed this feeling.

“It’s awesome here every time we come to Montreal. It’s such good energy from all the fans and I’m excited for tomorrow. First step down but we’ve now got our eyes on tomorrow and that win.”

Verstappen sounded up for the fight, predicting it would be “an interesting race” with the tyres and the changeable weather in Montreal. And Russell agreed. Asked whether he felt he could keep Verstappen behind him, he smiled. “Why not? Of course, let’s go for it. The car has been feeling amazing since we’ve brought the upgrades to Monaco, we’ve been in that fight now so we are going for it tomorrow.”

Russell takes pole: As it happened

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