It’s a strange phenomena but Formula One fans love the rain. Yes it’s uncomfortable huddling under umbrellas but it is more than compensated for by the unpredictable on track action that unfolds. More often than not, a wet qualifying results in a mixed up grid where experienced drivers can overcome the disadvantage of their slower cars by thinking smart.
In changeable weather conditions for qualifying at the 2022 Canadian GP we saw Formula One’s most experienced driver’s outthink 7 times world champion Lewis Hamilton.
Final qualifying began with a drying track and the 10 cars all ran first stints on the intermediate tyres, then with 5 minutes to go Fernando Alonso came into the pits for a new set of tyres for his final run.
Alonso sat in the pit box for over a minute discussing the tyres being fitted by the other runners. Much to his team mates dismay he had to stack behind Alonso and wait for the double champion to decide when to leave and optimise his final run.
The track was quickly changing and Alonso realised that he needed two much laps to get the best out of his new intermediates.
Meanwhile Hamilton had pitted also for new inters but exited to the track much earlier than than Alonso.
Hamilton crawled around for his outlaw and then delivered a mediocre time for his first of two push laps.
Alonso was almost three quarters of a lap behind Hamilton and timed the start of his final run with just 5 seconds before the chequered flag ended the session. Meanwhile Lewis was already well into sector 3 and ran out of time to go for another quick lap.
Such was the perfection of Alonso’s timing, he was last to start his quick lap, with Verstappen and Sainz delivering their final time while he was still out on track.
Such was the track improvement Fernando not only eclipsed Sainz time for P2, but in a car that had shown similar pace in the dry to Hamilton’s was almost a second quicker than the Mercedes driver.
Of course Lewis can’t take all the blame for the team choosing to send him out for his final run too early, but it was Alonso telling his team he wanted to wait to be last over the line that in the end made the difference for the two experienced world champions.
Fernando famously was held Lewis up during this years Monaco GP and the top speed of the Alpine down the straight on a dry track in Montreal may see the French driver frustrate Lewis and even Sainz for lap after lap once again.