MONTREAL, Canada—To most people, coming to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve every June always brings excitement. From late passes to control boards malfunctioning and huge deluges of rain make this circuit along with the enthusiastic fans more enjoyable. But it might make people wonder: Does anything stay the same?

The answer to this is yes.

Max Verstappen took his 25th career pole in mixed conditions, with a 1:25:858, ahead of a surprising Nico Hulkenberg with Fernando Alonso in third.

Nico Hulkenberg (left) Max Verstappen (middle) and Fernando Alonso pose for the photographers Saturday after qualifying for Sunday's Canadian Grand Prix. Getty Images Photo

“I think the car improved,” Verstappen said. “We made all the right calls ... very happy to be on pole here. I come from Holland, we are used to driving in the wet,” he adds. “We have a good race car.”

Verstappen took his fastest time right into the first session as Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guangu stopped his Alfa Romeo after the first two turns, which brought out the red flag for a few minutes. The Chinese managed to get his car going back to the pits as he joined Logan Sargant of Williams, the Alpha Tauri pair of Yuki Tsunoda and Nyck de Vries and an unlucky Pierre Gasly of Alpine, who was on a fast lap and was impeded by Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, which ruined his chances to advance.

As the circuit began to dry in the second session, many gambled on using softs to move up the grid. Williams Alex Albon was one of the first to do so and put in the session’s best time as Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, along with Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, were the big surprises to exit the session, along with Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll in his home race, Haas F1’s Kevin Magnussen and Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas.

By the third session, everyone left in qualifying had slicks on, but the rain came down heavier towards the end of the session, and Hulkenberg managed to put his Haas with slicks on early, which on a good lap put him into second place before the rain increased. Verstappen had no trouble either, coming out even earlier, and taking pole in his Red Bull. Alonso tried to better Verstappen’s lap time but gave up, realizing that the conditions were too wet for a quick lap. The Red flag came out for the second time in the day as Oscar Piastri spun his McLaren in the barriers late in the final session but finished ninth. The Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and George Russel finished fourth and fifth, respectively, while Alpine’s Esteban Ocon took sixth. McLaren’s Lando Norris made it two McLaren’s in the top ten with seventh, while Sainz finished in eighth, but could face an investigation for impeding Gasly and could face a grid drop. For Albon, the Williams driver ran out of ideas and ended up in 10th.

Mixed conditions will greet the drivers on race day, with 50 percent chance of showers, which like qualifying, could mix up the order for different race results.

By Mark Gero

Charle Leclerc missed out on putting on the right tyres and was eliminated in the second session. Leclerc will start 11th on the grid. Getty Images Photo