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Canadian GP: Mercedes back on F1 pole position as George Russell says result 'start of something' for 2024 season

George Russell claims his second F1 career pole - and Mercedes first since July 2023 - as driver and team credit recent car upgrades for overdue breakthrough; watch the Canadian Grand Prix at 7pm on Sunday - live on Sky Sports F1 and Main Event, build-up from 5.30pm

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George Russell joined Karun Chandhok at the SkyPad to look back on his pole lap at the Canadian Grand Prix.

George Russell believes his superb pole position for Mercedes at the Canadian Grand Prix is the "start of something for our season" while Toto Wolff is optimistic the team are finally "going in the right direction" in F1's current era of rules.

For just the third time since the end of the 2021 season that yielded their record-extending eighth consecutive constructors' title, Mercedes will start a race on pole position, having unexpectedly proved the car to beat around the demanding Circuit Gilles Villeneuve so far.

Russell set the same best Q3 lap of 1:12.000 as Red Bull's Max Verstappen at the end of a dramatic qualifying hour but the Mercedes driver will start Sunday's 7pm race on pole as he set the time first.

Russell's pole is just his second in F1 and Mercedes' first since Lewis Hamilton's in Hungary last July.

"We said it in Monaco that we hope this is the start of something for our season, and I think it is," said Russell, in reference to the encouragement Mercedes felt about their latest upgrade package - including a new front wing - introduced at the last race, which is running again on the W15 in Canada.

"I've missed this feeling."

Team-mate Hamilton had also looked set to join Russell in making a return to the grid's leading positions but dropped from second to a disappointing seventh on the final run of qualifying.

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Having set identical times, Mercedes' George Russell pipped Max Verstappen to pole position in Canada having completed his lap first.

F1's teams and drivers have experienced a challenging weekend amid changeable weather conditions in Montreal.

Friday's practice running was compromised by rain and on Saturday, although drivers were able to run the sessions on slick dry tyres throughout, there was light drizzle at points during qualifying on a newly-re-laid track surface that has proved tough for teams to master.

Red Bull's Sergio Perez dropped out in Q1, while Monaco victors Ferrari shockingly failed to get either of their cars out of Q2, yet Mercedes barely appeared troubled at any stage of qualifying.

"The car has been so quick this weekend," acknowledged Russell to Sky Sports F1.

"The team have done an amazing job bringing all these upgrades to the car and finally this hard work is translating into results.

"We have been zig-zagging for quite a while now and slowly those zig-zags have narrowed down and we have really honed in to what we need from this car.

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George Russell was delighted with the progress Mercedes have made after securing pole at the Canadian Grand Prix.

"This last upgrade we brought, it was a small change but it's bringing more performance than we initially expected. So we're pursuing that direction now. It's only been two races and definitely unique circuits, but the performance this weekend has just been unreal."

Wolff explains how Mercedes have finally balanced out their car

Mercedes' 'zig-zagging' has included the adoption of different design concepts since the introduction of the current ground-effect technical regulations in 2022 in the search of an elusive breakthrough.

The team's third car for the current era, this year's W15, featured yet more wholesale changes but the team started the year clearly behind Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren.

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Highlights of qualifying for the Canadian Grand Prix.

They are still yet to finish on the podium in eight races but had already felt before Canada that momentum was belatedly building.

"We're on pole position and that was amazing. His lap was great," said a delighted Wolff, Mercedes' team principal, to Sky Sports F1 after qualifying.

"As we've said for a while, we're going in the right direction. We've brought lots of little bits over the last few races, some more visible than others, but definitely heading to a more performant car.

"I think we have a grip now on the car. One swallow doesn't make a summer. The lap was great but we need to keep both feet on the ground.

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Karun Chandhok is at the SkyPad to analyse where George Russell gained time on his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton as he sealed pole in Canada.

"Three races ago we were really not good enough and now we have a pole position and a good result. Hopefully we can materialise that tomorrow in a race. I think if we're able to be good on the long runs, you can count more on us on the next few races as well."

Asked what specifically had improved, Wolff replied: "I think more downforce, more downforce in the right places. We were either fast in the low speed and slow in the high-speed or the other way around.

"We kind of never got the right balance in there. Now the drivers say the car is well balanced."

Sky Sports F1's live Canadian GP schedule

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A look back at some of the most dramatic moments from the Canadian Grand Prix.

Sunday June 9
5.30pm: Grand Prix Sunday - Canadian GP build-up
9pm: Chequered Flag - Canadian GP reaction
10pm: Ted's Notebook

Formula 1 is on Montreal for the Canadian Grand Prix and you can watch every session at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve this weekend live on Sky Sports F1, with Sunday's race at 7pm. Stream every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership - No contract, cancel anytime

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