Sebastian Vettel has won his 32nd career pole position in Canada

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.

Maldonado somehow avoided the tyre wall in Q2!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:

Driver Team Time Gap
1. Sebastian Vettel DEU Red Bull Racing Renault RB8 1:13.784  
2. Lewis Hamilton GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-27 1:14.087 + 0.303
2. Fernando Alonso ESP Scuderia Ferrari F2012 1:14.151 + 0.367
4. Mark Webber AUS Red Bull Racing Renault RB8 1:14.346 + 0.562
5. Nico Rosberg DEU Mercedes AMG F1 W03 1:14.411 + 0.627
6. Felipe Massa BRA Scuderia Ferrari F2012 1:14.465 + 0.681
7. Romain Grosjean FRA Lotus F1 Renault E20 1:14.645 + 0.861
8. Paul di Resta GBR Force India Mercedes VJM05 1:14.705 + 0.921
9. Michael Schumacher DEU Mercedes AMG F1 W03 1:14.812 + 1.028
10. Jenson Button GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-27 1:15.182 + 1.398
  Q2 Cut-Off – 1:14.680   Time Gap
11. Kamui Kobayashi JPN Sauber Ferrari C31 1:14.688 + 0.008
12. Kimi Räikkönen FIN Lotus F1 Renault E20 1:14.734 + 0.054
13. Nico Hülkenberg DEU Force India Mercedes VJM05 1:14.748 + 0.068
14. Daniel Ricciardo AUS Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7 1:15.078 + 0.388
15. Sergio Pérez MEX Sauber Ferrari C31 1:15.156 + 0.476
16. Bruno Senna BRA Williams Renault FW34 1:15.170 + 0.490
17. Pastor Maldonado VEN Williams Renault FW34 1:15.231 + 0.551
  Q1 Cut-Off – 1:15.552   Time Gap
18. Heikki Kovalainen FIN Caterham Renault CT01 1:16.263 + 0.711
19. Vitaly Petrov RUS Caterham Renault CT01 1:16.482 + 0.930
20. Jean-Éric Vergne FRA Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7 1:16.602 + 1.050
21. Pedro de la Rosa ESP HRTF1 Cosworth F112 1:17.492 + 1.940
22. Timo Glock DEU Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01 1:17.901 + 2.349
23. Charles Pic FRA Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01 1:18.255 + 2.703
24. Narain Karthikeyan IND HRTF1 Cosworth F112 1:18.330 + 2.778

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.