A very eventful qualifying session for the Canadian Grand Prix saw rain once again dominating the hour, with the track teasing drivers with sections of dry areas on the Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve.
Red Bull Racing confirmed their strong pace in the wet weather with Sebastian Vettel claiming his 39th pole position in F1.
Q1 began with the entire field on the super soft compound tyres, as teams were optimistic that they could get a dry lap in before the heavens opened up. However, it took only one lap for drivers to determine the track was too slippery for slicks.
The opening phase also saw good times for F1 fans. All 22 cars were on the track to get a lap in so they weren’t caught out. It was good to see cars on traeck in the opening stages of Q1, contrary to most races where teams choose to preserve their tyres.
Throughout the weekend, the Red Bulls and Mercedes’ cars have looked quite strong in the wet, and qualifying proved no exception. It seemed as this stage as if it it would be a battle of the bulls for pole come Q3.
The conclusion of Q1 saw the surprise exit of Paul di Resta – the fastest driver in Friday’s opening practice session – who had apparently struggled with a gearbox issue. Romain Grosjean also struggled in the conditions and failed to get out of the drop-zone. He’ll start last due to the ten-place grid penalty he received in Monaco.
Charles Pic, Jules Bianchi, Max Chilton and Giedo van der Garde were also knocked out in Q1, as expected.
For a brief moment between sessions, it looked as though the track had dried enough for cars to jump onto slicks. That thought was quickly dismissed however as the rain resumed and left the teams on intermediate tyres.
The drivers certainly voiced their opinions on the conditions of the track, letting their engineers know how slippery the track was, and also in some drivers’ cases, proving it, as a lot of drivers were cutting chicanes.
The session was red flagged with less than two minutes left when Felipe Massa, struggling to get out of the bottom six, locked the rear brakes under braking and lost control of his Ferrari, slamming into the wall at Turn 3.
Massa was visibly upset, slamming the steering wheel with his hands after the crash.
Just prior to the restart of Q2, all of the drivers were lined up at the end of pit lane waiting to go out, to ensure they had enough time to complete a lap. The way the cars were positioned was reminiscent of a 1960’s starting grid.
All cars made it around the circuit to start a flying lap except the Red Bulls, who didn’t really need to set a new fast lap, and Jenson Button, who took too much time holding back making a clear space and was unable to complete his out-lap in time.
Hulkenberg, Perez, Maldonado, Button, Gutierrez and the crash-eliminated Massa were knocked out in Q2.
Both Toro Rossos made it into Q3 for the first time this year, as Daniel Ricciardo just edged out Hulkenberg by under one tenth of a second to claim the final spot in Q3.
As teams expected more rain to ruin the current dry line that protruded at some parts around the circuit, nine of the ten drivers headed straight out on track with Valtteri Bottas sitting tight for a few minutes.
The extra time in the garage turned out to work wonders for the Finn, as just before the rain resumed, the Williams driver posted a 1:25.897 to go third-fastest, easily the team’s best performance of what has been a dreadful 2013 campaign to-date.
Once the rain started dropping quite heavily with just over three minutes to go, the grid was determined as no driver improved on their times. Vettel lead the way with Hamilton a tenth behind and Bottas a further three tenths off.
2013 Canadian Formula 1 Grand Prix – Qualifying Session Times:
|1.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing Renault RB9||1:25.425|
|2.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04||1:25.512||+ 0.087|
|3.||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Renault FW35||1:25.897||+ 0.472|
|4.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04||1:26.008||+ 0.583|
|5.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing Renault RB9||1:26.208||+ 0.783|
|6.||Fernando Alonso||Scuderia Ferrari F138||1:26.504||+ 1.079|
|7.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8||1:26.543||+ 1.118|
|8.||Adrian Sutil||Force India Mercedes VJM06||1:27.348||+ 1.923|
|9.||Kimi Räikkönen^||Lotus F1 Renault E21||1:27.432||+ 2.007|
|10.||Daniel Ricciardo^||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8||1:27.946||+ 2.521|
|Q3 Cut-Off – 1:29.359||Time||Gap*|
|11.||Nico Hülkenberg||Sauber Ferrari C32||1:29.435||+ 1.786|
|12.||Sergio Pérez||McLaren Mercedes MP4-28||1:29.761||+ 2.112|
|13.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Renault FW35||1:29.917||+ 2.268|
|14.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-28||1:30.068||+ 2.419|
|15.||Esteban Gutiérrez||Sauber Ferrari C32||1:30.315||+ 2.666|
|16.||Felipe Massa||Scuderia Ferrari F138||1:30.354||+ 2.705|
|Q2 Cut-Off – 1:24.776||Time||Gap**|
|17.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes VJM06||1:24.908||+ 2.590|
|18.||Charles Pic||Caterham Renault CT03||1:25.626||+ 3.308|
|19.||Romain Grosjean^||Lotus F1 Renault E21||1:25.716||+ 3.398|
|20.||Jules Bianchi||Marussia Racing Cosworth MR02||1:26.508||+ 4.190|
|21.||Max Chilton||Marussia Racing Cosworth MR02||1:27.062||+ 4.744|
|22.||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham Renault CT03||1:27.110||+ 4.792|
* Gap to fastest Q2 time of 1:27.649 by Lewis Hamilton
** Gap to fastest Q1 time of 1:22.318 by Sebastian Vettel
^ Räikkönen and Ricciardo will incur a 2-place grid penalty apiece for pit exit infringements; Grosjean incurs a ten-place grid penalty for causing a collision with Ricciardo at the Monaco Grand Prix.