Sebastian Vettel has taken Ferrari’s first pole position in Montreal since June 2001, after setting a new track record in qualifying for the Canadian Grand Prix.
The German was nine-hundredths of a second faster than the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas with Max Verstappen third. It was a very close qualifying as the top five were covered by less than half a second.
Vettel said “Today we switched on. The car was incredible, it just kept getting quicker. In my final lap I had a small mistake otherwise I think there was a little bit more. But it was fantastic.”
The six-time winner Lewis Hamilton, lost third to the Dutchman following a messy final part after locking up on both his runs in Q3. That allowed both his teammate Bottas and Verstappen to get ahead of him.
The four times champion normally performs well around the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve but was unable to get the lap together. Hamilton was third in first qualifying, fifth in second qualifying and fourth after the first runs in the top ten.
He locked his brakes on both his runs in Q3. Hamilton told Sky Sports “It was a difficult session. They weren’t great laps. It just didn’t come together.”
Mercedes have been forced to shelve plans to introduce an upgraded engine this weekend, but Hamilton accepted: “This had nothing to do with the engine.”
However, both Mercedes and Ferrari’s were able to qualify on the more durable ultrasoft tyres. Red Bull was forced to use the hypersofts to make up for their defect on single lap pace. The team believes that they are three tenths behind the top two on the straights.
Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg was best of the rest in seventh place, ahead of the Force India of Esteban Ocon, his teammate Carlos Sainz and the second Force India of Sergio Perez. Like with the top three teams, the midfield was very close.
Renault has brought an upgraded power unit this weekend, while it appears to have allowed the works team to close the gap in the midfield, it wasn’t enough to beat Ferrari and Mercedes at the front of the grid.
While Red Bull moved closer, McLaren who also use the Renault power unit were unable to get through into Q3. But for the works team they were evenly matched with the Force India’s, that could be a close fight in the race.
Haas’s Kevin Magnussen missed out on Q3 by two-thousandths of a second but was ahead of Brendon Hartley. Hartley complained about losing a couple of tenths in the final chicane on his quickest lap.
The Toro Rosso has been running the upgraded Honda power unit this weekend and that put Hartley ahead of both the McLarens. It was also another good session for Charles Leclerc who put his Sauber fourteenth.
The new unit allowed the New Zealander to out-qualify his teammate Pierre Gasly, who was forced to revert to the old spec engine.
All the drivers who were knocked out in Q2 did manage to improve on their second set of hypersofts. It was a poor afternoon for McLaren as neither Fernando Alonso nor Stoffel Vandoorne made it through.
While it was poor for McLaren, it was disappointing for Williams the team has struggled all season to get their car through Q1 and Q2. Lance Stroll could only manage seventeenth after being half a second off the pace of Gasly.
Marcus Ericsson was nineteenth last of the qualifiers, the Swede made contact with the wall damaging the car. Romain Grosjean failed to qualify after he suffered an engine failure at the end of the pit lane as the session began.