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Piastri, Ricciardo impress in Canada F1 qualifying

For the first time in Formula One history, Australia will have two drivers start in the top five after a scintillating qualifying session at the Canadian Grand Prix.

Oscar Piastri (Maclaren) and Daniel Ricciardo (Visa RB) will jump from fourth and fifth on the grid in Sunday's race (Monday AEST) having finished less than two tenths of a second behind pole sitter George Russell.

Ricciardo provided an emphatic response to stinging criticism from former world champion Jacques Villeneuve, who questioned why the West Australian was even still driving in F1.

Ricciardo, 34, won the last of his eight career Formula One victories in 2021 and raced to his first win 10 years ago in Montreal.

"I still don't know what he said, but I heard he's been talking s***," Ricciardo said of Villeneuve after qualifying.

"Anyway, won't give him the time of day, but all those people can suck it. I want to say more but it's alright. We'll leave him behind."

Daniel Ricciardo.
Daniel Ricciardo flies around the circuit in Montreal to qualify fifth for the Canadian Grand Prix. (AP PHOTO)

After his second-placed finish two weeks ago in Monaco, Piastri is confident but wary of how the conditions can play their part in deciding the outcome in Montreal.

"It was a bit of a messy session all round I think, for everyone," he said.

"It was very tricky. Look at George, he went three-tenths slower from Q2 to Q3 and he's on pole.

"With the rain and with the wind as well, it just makes life so tough.

"These are the kind of days where it can really spiral for you ... For me, personally, and for the whole team, it's just a good solid result."

Russell claimed only the second pole of his career after setting an identical time to Max Verstappen.

The British driver, who was on pole in Hungary in 2022, proved Mercedes' progress and beat Verstappen by virtue of having set his time first.

The top three were split by just two hundredths of a second, with Lando Norris lining up third.

George Russell.
George Russell celebrates after taking pole in the qualifying session in Montreal. (AP PHOTO)

Two weeks on from his glorious home win in Monaco, title hopeful Charles Leclerc will start only 11th as Ferrari suffered a shock double elimination in Q2.

Lewis Hamilton (seventh) had earlier set a blistering fastest time in final practice as Mercedes hinted at further improvement after a promising showing in Monaco.

The seven-time world champion, who will leave Mercedes for Ferrari after this season, won his first Formula One race in Canada during his debut season for McLaren in 2007 and in total has won seven times around Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

But it was his teammate Russell who led the way with a stunning performance in the final qualifying session.

"It feels so good," Russell said.

"Let's hope this is the start of something for our season. I think it is.

"Excited for tomorrow. Now we have our eyes on that win."

Championship leader Verstappen had played down Red Bull's chances after struggling in Monaco, believing the aggressive kerbs would not suit their car.

The dominant Dutchman has won only one of the last three races after winning four of the first five and his championship lead has been cut to 31 points by Leclerc.

Team boss Christian Horner said their Monaco woes were a "wake-up call" and Verstappen delivered to line up second on the grid.

With AAP.