Motor racing-After Monaco high, Ferrari struggling with Montreal low

Formula One F1 - Canadian Grand Prix - Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal, Canada - June 8, 2024 Ferrari's Carlos Sainz Jr. during qualifying REUTERS/Jennifer Gauthier

MONTREAL (Reuters) - After their Monaco high Ferrari were coming to grips with a Montreal flop on Saturday after both cars slumped out of qualifying for the Canadian Grand Prix, missing an opportunity to pile more pressure on championship leading Red Bull.

Riding the momentum from Charles Leclerc's Monaco victory two weeks ago and a third place from Carlos Sainz, Ferrari arrived in Montreal favoured by many to make it two wins in a row.

But that appears unlikely now after a miserable qualifying effort in which both cars failed to advance to the last 10 shootout for pole position with Leclerc starting Sunday's race well back in 11th with Sainz alongside in 12th.

Locked in a tight battle with Red Bull for top spot in the Constructors standings, Ferrari may have blown a golden opportunity to cut in to their rival's 24-point lead.

While championship leader Max Verstappen will start on the front row alongside Mercedes pole sitter George Russell, his Mexican team mate Sergio Perez lines 16th on the grid unable to get out of the first qualifying phase.

"We have to review this qualifying session and FP3 (free practice three), as we simply weren’t at the level we need to be," lamented Leclerc, who is also hoping to close the gap on Verstappen in the driver standings with a good result at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. "Tyre management will play a big role in the race so we have to focus on that and will push to gain positions tomorrow.

"With mixed weather conditions, there may be some opportunities coming our way and we must be ready to make the most of them."

Montreal's weather has been unpredictable, with Mother Nature throwing everything from hail to brilliant sunshine at drivers, making preparations for Saturday's qualifying and Sunday's race a challenge.

For Ferrari the struggle has been finding the right tyres and grip on the recently resurfaced island layout.

"For sure when you are 11th and 12th you are not happy," said Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur. "We struggled a bit more from this morning to switch on the tyres for turn one, because we are losing more than 50% of the gap in turn one.

"It's tight. At the end of the day Perez is 16th.

"It is like it is but we have to be pleased with the fact that the fight is so tight."

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Montreal; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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