Max Verstappen will start on pole in the Canadian Grand Prix after his dominant display throughout qualifying in tricky conditions.
However, despite leading the drivers' championship and without the threat of Charles Leclerc in Montreal, the Dutchman is still aware of the danger that the experienced Spaniard, Fernando Alonso, can pose.
The 40-year-old Alonso has made it clear that he is going to “attack” Verstappen at the first corner and attempt to take advantage of his first front-row start since 2013.
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Verstappen was always one step ahead of the rest of the grid on Saturday, and controlled qualifying throughout.
Also, his Championship rival of Leclerc at Ferrari is starting from the back of the grid due to his planned changes to engine setup, so nobody could blame him for being confident.
But Verstappen is still aware of how well Alonso can start a race.
“I know he starts very well you know, so I have to be ready," Verstappen said. "Of course I still expect it not to be straightforward race but I think today with the tricky conditions, we stayed calm, we didn’t make mistakes and we had the right calls in Q3.
“So of course [I’m] super happy with that you know, to get pole position here and also to be back here in Montreal, it’s been a while and it’s great to see all the fans.
“You really get that kind of like go-karting sensation back with like real proper kerbs around here. So we always enjoy driving here and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
The 24-year-old is finding confidence race on race and will look to extend his lead at the top of the drivers' championship, especially with team-mate Sergio Perez starting in 13th due to his accident in Q2.
The reigning world champion reminisced about when he was watching Alonso as a young driver and now is honoured to be racing beside him.
He said: “To be on the front row together with Fernando, I mean, I used to look at F1 as a little kid and seeing Fernando being up there and winning his races and championships and putting it on poles.
“So to be sharing the front row is a nice thing, you know, I mean, of course Fernando is getting a bit old but he’s still very fast.”
The niceties between the two drivers will not last very long, however, as Alonso has made it clear that he will be ‘attacking’ the Red Bull from lights out.
“The car was mega," Alonso told Sky Sports. "I was so comfortable with driving this car and I think the fans also helped me to make an extra push, I think I will attack Max on the first corner.”
It is unlikely that Alonso will be able to hold off the Red Bull for long given the pace that Verstappen showed in qualifying.
But with a mixed-up grid with Leclerc and Perez both having to make up ground and the Haas’ placing fifth and sixth, Alonso will be hoping for a top-five finish at least.
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