Sebastian Vettel took Ferrari’s first pole position at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve since 2001 after edging out Valtteri Bottas in a close-fought qualifying hour in Montreal.
After holding their cards close to their chest – and suffering from a reduced amount of running – throughout free practice, Ferrari came to the fore to topple the expected pace-setters, Mercedes and Red Bull.
Vettel’s lap record of 1:10.764 was enough to take pole by less than one tenth of a second over Bottas, with the Finn marking only the second time Hamilton has been beaten in a Canadian Grand Prix qualifying session by his team-mate.
“Yesterday I think we were a little bit in trouble. I wasn’t really happy with the car, we had some problems and I just couldn’t get a rhythm,” said Vettel.
“But today, I switched on and I guess I woke up in the right way.
“The car was incredible, it just kept getting quicker and quicker. In my final lap I had a small mistake, otherwise I think I had a little bit more.”
Max Verstappen capitalised on untidy laps from Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen to claim third on the grid, as he bids to complete a clean, successful weekend for Red Bull.
Daniel Ricciardo lines up sixth for tomorrow’s race, but both Red Bulls will be the only ones in the top six to start the race on the hypersoft tyres, with Ferrari and Mercedes choosing to complete Q2 on the ultrasoft tyre.
In a battle for midfield honours between Renault and Force India in Q3, it was Nico Hulkenberg who vanquished.
Qualifying Session One
Romain Grosjean’s qualifying session appeared to be over before it had even begun. As he left his pit box, his Haas VF-18 released a trail of smoke down the pit lane. He was instructed to pull over before leaving the pit lane, and he was wheeled back towards his garage so the team could attempt to resolve the issue, but his qualifying hour was over there and then.
Marcus Ericsson’s qualifying session was also cut short. The Sauber driver tagged the wall on the outside of turn nine and almost collected a Red Bull as he ricocheted off the barrier. His sole effort was only good enough for nineteenth place.
From there, Q1 became a battle to avoid a ‘bottom three’ but, as expected, Williams continued to struggle, with Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin finishing seventeenth and eighteenth respectively and over half-a-second away from safety.
Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly was a minor shock from Q1 after being eliminated by half-a-tenth of a second, whilst team-mate Brendon Hartley put in an impressive showing by finishing in eighth.
Qualifying Session Two
Mercedes and Ferrari elected to send both of their cars out to qualify on the ultrasoft tyres, whilst Red Bull continued with the hypersofts.
Despite running on different tyres, the top four were separated by less than one tenth of a second, with Ricciardo narrowly topping Q2 ahead of Verstappen, Bottas and Vettel.
All four of the ultrasoft runners were equipped with hypersofts for their second runs, but all four drivers decided not to complete their laps.
Vettel was looking to improve, but encountered huge levels of traffic at the end of the longest straight before the final chicane. He was blocked by two Renault’s and Haas’ Kevin Magnussen.
Further back, it was Magnussen, Hartley and Charles Leclerc who narrowly missed out on progressing, whilst McLaren’s Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne finished at the bottom of Q2 in a disappointing day for the Woking team.
Qualifying Session Three
With all teams turning their cars up to full power, Bottas was the first man to dip into the 1:10s, but his lap was narrowly beaten by Vettel, who set the first benchmark of a 1:10.776. He lead from Bottas, Raikkonen, Verstappen, Hamilton and Ricciardo.
In his second flying lap, Vettel set a near-identical lap time to marginally extend his lead by 0.012 of a second to underline his pole position, his first since Azerbaijan. Bottas failed to improve but managed to hold on to second place to take an unlikely qualifying scalp against his team-mate. Mistakes from Raikkonen and Hamilton opened the door for one of the Red Bulls to sneak into the top three.
It was Verstappen who took that chance. He dipped into the 1:10s to take a place in the top three, whilst Hamilton set a time good enough for fourth place, despite a lock-up in the final chicane.
Raikkonen’s final lap was blown after he ran wide on the exit of turn two, and Ricciardo was unable to make further inroads on his sixth place.
“It was finished there at that point [turn two]. I got a lot of understeer entering turn two and I had no choice but to get out of it as quickly as I can,” summarised Raikkonen.
Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg took the ‘best of the rest’ honours, ahead of Force India’s Esteban Ocon, team-mate Carlos Sainz and the second Force India of Sergio Perez.
By: Luke Murphy
CANADIAN GRAND PRIX, Qualifying
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m10.764s
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m10.857s 0.093s
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault 1m10.937s 0.173
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m10.996s 0.232s
5 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m11.095s 0.331s
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m11.116s 0.352
7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m11.973s 1.209s
8 Esteban Ocon Force India/Mercedes 1m12.084s 1.320s
9 Carlos Sainz Renault 1m12.168s 1.404s
10 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m12.671s 1.907s
11 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1m12.606s 1.842s
12 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso/Honda 1m12.635s 1.871s
13 Charles Leclerc Sauber/Ferrari 1m12.661s 1.897s
14 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Renault 1m12.856s 2.092s
15 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren/Renault 1m12.865s 2.101s
16 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso/Honda 1m13.047s 2.283s
17 Lance Stroll Williams/Mercedes 1m13.590s 2.826s
18 Sergey Sirotkin Williams/Mercedes 1m13.643s 2.879s
19 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m14.593s 3.829s
20 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari – No time
All images: Motorsport Images
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