2017 Canadian GP: Qualifying Report

Lewis Hamilton has claimed pole position for tomorrow’s Canadian Grand Prix and matches Ayrton Senna’s tally of 65 pole positions in the process. His title rival, Sebastian Vettel joins him on the front row but is over three-tenths of a second back.

Vettel carried his good form from Monaco across the pond by topping final practice earlier in the day in a Ferrari 1-2. Hamilton was the lead Mercedes driver but was four-tenths back from Vettel.

Q1 began and it was the Ferrari drivers who set the initial pace but on the slower Supersoft tyres. The Mercedes, though, opted to run the faster Ultrasoft rubber straight away and it was Valtteri Bottas who topped the session from Hamilton by just seven-thousandths of a second. They were the only drivers that went under one minute thirteen, Vettel’s Ferrari their closest challenger.

Stoffel Vandoorne was struggling down Circuit Gilles Villeneueve’s long straights in his underpowered McLaren and failed to make it out of Q1 again. He was joined by Kevin Magnussen, the Sauber’s of Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein and home favourite, Lance Stroll, who was disappointingly slow once again.

Q2 got underway shortly after and it was Hamilton who set the opening gambit of 1:12.496, two tenths faster than his Q1 time and rapid enough to see him top the timings for the remainder. Carlos Sainz spun his Toro Rosso but narrowly missed the barriers and Vettel had to abort his first attempt. Sainz’s teammate, Daniil Kvyat, also ran into problems, a puncture late in the session putting pay to his day. The Russian was eliminated along with Romain Grosjean, Jolyon Palmer, the spinning Sainz and Fernando Alonso, who despite a valiant effort, couldn’t drag his McLaren into the top 10.

Q3 commenced and the full power of the Mercedes engine was unleashed, Hamilton breaking the lap record with his first effort. Vettel was breathing down the Britton’s neck, however, and was just a few thousandths back. Sensationally, though, Hamilton had time in his pocket and produced a stunning 1:11.459 to blow away the competition and claim his sixth pole position in Montreal by over three tenths of a second. Vettel lines up alongside him on the front row and the German will be hoping for a replay of the start last year.

Valtteri Bottas qualified third but four tenths back from Vettel, with his compatriot joining him on row two. The Red Bulls achieved fifth and sixth on a circuit where they were expected to struggle and Felipe Massa will start a respectable seventh. Perez heads the Force India’s in eighth and Nico Hulkenberg outperformed Palmer yet again by claiming a top 10 starting berth.

But the day belonged to Hamilton, who equalled the qualifying record of Ayrton Senna, his idol, with his fourth pole of the season. He knew it too, as he was visibly emotional when he pulled into Parc Ferme after his cool-down lap. Lewis was then awarded one of Senna’s helmets from 1987 as a reward and you could tell that he was holding back the tears. Only Michael Schumacher on 68, 3 ahead, stands in his way of becoming the most successful qualifier in the sport’s history.

In contrast to Monaco two weeks ago, the time gaps were large, despite the lap times being smaller. Hamilton and Vettel, as usual, were in a class of their own. The Mercedes driver having the edge in one-lap pace, but the Ferrari man well within striking distance if Hamilton gets another slow getaway in Montreal. Couple that with the predictions for windy conditions tomorrow and we’re likely in for a fascinating Grand Prix.

Full Classification:

P1: Hamilton 1:11.459

P2: Vettel +0.330

P3: Bottas +0.718

P4: Raikkonen +0.793

P5: Verstappen +0.944

P6: Ricciardo +1.098

P7: Massa +1.399

P8: Perez +1.559

P9: Ocon +1.676

P10: Hulkenberg +1.812

P11: Kvyat 1:13.690 (Q2)

P12: Alonso +0.003

P13: Sainz +0.066

P14: Grosjean +0.149

P15: Palmer +0.603

P16: Vandoorne 1:14.182 (Q1)

P17: Stroll +0.027

P18: Magnussen +0.136

P19: Ericsson +0.313

P20: Wehrlein +0.628

 

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