Canadian Grand Prix: Sebastian Vettel on pole again
Red Bull's world champion takes pole, while last year's winner Lewis Hamilton will start fifth on the grid
Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel stormed to pole for a sixth time this season as a rain clouds loomed over the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix.
The championship leader’s time of 1m13.014s was just enough to make it six out of seven in one of the closest qualifying sessions of the season.
“I’m happy with that,” Vettel said. “We’ve made up some ground from last year when we committed to a different strategy and sacrificed qualifying, but this year I feel comfortable.
“I had a rough start yesterday morning, but thankfully the guys could fix the car and I had more practice in the afternoon, which is important here.
“It’s a tricky track to understand, with the kerbs and the chicanes, coming from high speeds with hard braking, but we had a smooth qualifying session today and two very good runs. All in all, I’m very happy.”
Ferrari enjoyed a return to the front with Fernando Alonso’s 1m13.199s enough to leapfrog team-mate Felipe Massa (1m13.217s) to snatch second, with the Brazilian third ahead of Mark Webber (1m13.426s) who was again cursed by Red Bull’s KERS.
“For the first time this year we managed to fight for the very top places on the grid, right down to the final second and for once the gap to pole position was reasonable,” Ferrari team principle Stefano Domenicali said.
“It’s our best qualifying of the season and it’s great to have both cars on the front two rows, one of them with a clear view of the track ahead.
“This result is encouraging because it means that our efforts are taking us in the right direction.”
Last year’s winner Lewis Hamilton (1m13.565s) was fifth on a disappointing day for McLaren. Jenson Button was seventh (1m13.838s) behind Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg (1m13.814s).
“Personally, I was very happy with my lap,” Hamilton said. “I don’t think I’ve ever driven a car as hard in my life as I did this afternoon. I was right on the ragged edge and I think I even touched the wall at one stage.
“I hope our race pace will prove to be stronger tomorrow than our qualifying pace was today: we’re losing a couple of tenths along the back straight, which hurt us in qualifying.
“It’s going to be a tough afternoon tomorrow, but it’s always a long and unpredictable race here and we’re definitely not out of the fight.”
Michael Schumacher (1m13.864s) was eighth in the second Mercedes ahead of the Renault of Nick Heidfeld (1m14.062s), who pipped team-mate Vitaly Petrov (1m14.085s).
Force India’s Paul di Resta was unlucky to miss out on the top ten shoot-out to take 11th, again outpacing team-mate Adrian Sutil, who is 14th today.
Williams rookie Pastor Maldonado took 12th as he outqualified experienced team-mate Rubens Barrichello, who was 16th.
Kamui Kobayashi will start from 13th place, ahead of Sutil and Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Buemi.
McLaren reserve driver Pedro de la Rosa, standing in at short notice for Sergio Perez at Sauber after the Mexican rookie took ill, qualified 16th despite a lack of running.
At the back of the grid, Toro Rosso’s Jaime Alguersuari had another qualifying to forget as he missed out on Q2 when Kobayashi produced a late time to relegate the Spaniard to 18th.
Team Lotus again were the best of the backmarkers and gave their midfield rivals something to think about as Jarno Trulli outqualified team-mate Heikki Kovalainen
Tonio Liuzzi got the better of both Virgin Racing cars for Hispania to take 21st, with Timo Glock in 22nd ahead of Narain Karthikeyan.
Virgin’s JerÃƒÂ´me d’Ambrosio failed to qualify for the race after finishing nearly half a second off the 107 per cent time, but was allowed to race by stewards after lapping within the limit in Friday practice.