Sebastian Vettel has put the Red Bull’s floor saga to bed by winning pole position ahead of Sunday’s Canadian Grand Prix, finishing an action-packed qualifying session three-tenths quicker than McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton. Championship leader Fernando Alonso will start from third place in his Ferrari.
It is Vettel’s 32nd F1 pole position, drawing the German equal fifth overall on the all-time list with former World Champion Nigel Mansell, and one behind the 33-apiece efforts of Jim Clark and Alain Prost.
Vettel’s pole margin was rather surprising, given how closely fought the opening phases of qualifying had been: just 0.8 seconds covered the fastest seventeen Q1 runners, and the entire Q2 field was covered by one second.
The German’s first flying lap – a 1:13.905 – would ultimately prove quick enough to ensure him pole position, but he went out for a second flying lap in the ten-minute session and posted a 1:13.784 to cement top spot.
Hamilton’s second lap in Q3 was enough to snare him the front-row berth alongside Vettel, while Alonso didn’t carry enough pace into the final sector of his flying lap to challenge for the front row.
Monaco winner Mark Webber finished the session fourth-fastest, while the third row of the grid will be occupied by Nico Rosberg and Felipe Massa, who makes his second Q3 appearance of the season.
Despite many having feared that Lotus would be a threat for a pole and win at this event, Romain Grosjean could do no better than seventh-fastest – five spots better than team-mate Kimi Räikkönen – sharing the fourth row with Force India’s Paul di Resta.
While both managed to scramble into Q3, neither Michael Schumacher nor Jenson Button impressed in the final session: Schumacher left it too late to start his second flying lap, while Button rued attempting a flying lap, saying he should have instead saved himself a set of tyres for Sunday’s 70-lap race.
Button had looked in grave danger of missing the final qualifying phase for the third race in succession, but his bacon was saved when Pastor Maldonado fluffed his final flying lap with a dramatic spin at the final chicane. It was a miracle that the Venezuelan didn’t destroy his Williams against the tyre wall.
Maldonado’s misfortune compounded Williams’ poor day – team-mate Bruno Senna was just 16th-fastest – while neither Sauber made it out of Q2, with Kamui Kobayashi finished eleventh-fastest, missing out on Q3 by just eight thousandths of a second.
Daniel Ricciardo showed some improved qualifying form with the 14th-fastest time in Q2, but Toro Rosso team-mate Jean-Éric Vergne’s qualifying nightmares continued, with the Frenchman earning his fourth Q1 elimination of the season, posting a time slower than both Caterham drivers.
Down at HRT, Pedro de la Rosa cemented the Spanish team’s improvements with its upgraded F112 by going 21st-fastest – comfortably quicker than both Marussia drivers – but Narain Karthikeyan made a mistake at the final chicane on his last flyer, costing himself a shot at getting off the back row of the grid.
2012 Canadian Formula 1 Grand Prix – Qualifying Session Times:
|1.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing Renault RB8||1:13.784|
|2.||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren Mercedes MP4-27||1:14.087||+ 0.303|
|2.||Fernando Alonso||Scuderia Ferrari F2012||1:14.151||+ 0.367|
|4.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing Renault RB8||1:14.346||+ 0.562|
|5.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG F1 W03||1:14.411||+ 0.627|
|6.||Felipe Massa||Scuderia Ferrari F2012||1:14.465||+ 0.681|
|7.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Renault E20||1:14.645||+ 0.861|
|8.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes VJM05||1:14.705||+ 0.921|
|9.||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes AMG F1 W03||1:14.812||+ 1.028|
|10.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-27||1:15.182||+ 1.398|
|Q2 Cut-Off – 1:14.680||Time||Gap|
|11.||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber Ferrari C31||1:14.688||+ 0.008|
|12.||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus F1 Renault E20||1:14.734||+ 0.054|
|13.||Nico Hülkenberg||Force India Mercedes VJM05||1:14.748||+ 0.068|
|14.||Daniel Ricciardo||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7||1:15.078||+ 0.388|
|15.||Sergio Pérez||Sauber Ferrari C31||1:15.156||+ 0.476|
|16.||Bruno Senna||Williams Renault FW34||1:15.170||+ 0.490|
|17.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Renault FW34||1:15.231||+ 0.551|
|Q1 Cut-Off – 1:15.552||Time||Gap|
|18.||Heikki Kovalainen||Caterham Renault CT01||1:16.263||+ 0.711|
|19.||Vitaly Petrov||Caterham Renault CT01||1:16.482||+ 0.930|
|20.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7||1:16.602||+ 1.050|
|21.||Pedro de la Rosa||HRTF1 Cosworth F112||1:17.492||+ 1.940|
|22.||Timo Glock||Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01||1:17.901||+ 2.349|
|23.||Charles Pic||Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01||1:18.255||+ 2.703|
|24.||Narain Karthikeyan||HRTF1 Cosworth F112||1:18.330||+ 2.778|