Lewis Hamilton has claimed a somewhat unexpected pole position at the Canadian Formula 1 Grand Prix, convincingly beating championship leader Sebastian Vettel in an exciting qualifying session.
With Ferrari having set the pace in both Friday and Saturday’s earlier practice sessions and Mercedes seemingly appearing not to have solved the tyre warm-up issues that plagued it at the preceding Monaco Grand Prix, Hamilton was not expected to challenge for pole position.
Instead, the Silver Arrows came to life under warmer track conditions in qualifying, with Hamilton lapping comfortably in the 1m12s range to go second-fastest in Q1 and then going one better in Q2 with an impressive 1:12.496.
His first flying lap in Q3 was utterly stunning – an incredible 1:11.791 – which seemingly looked untouchable until moments later Sebastian Vettel hustled his Ferrari around with a time just 0.004 seconds short of the Englishman’s effort, despite the German having a wild moment exiting the Turn 6/7 chicane.
Hamilton emerged for another run and went even quicker, with a jaw-dropping 1:11.459 lap earning the three-time World Champion his 65th Formula 1 pole position to equal the record of the late Ayrton Senna, his childhood hero.
His emotions went into overdrive after qualifying, when he was presented with a replica Senna helmet from the Brazilian’s 1987 championship season by the Senna family – a race-worn helmet will be presented in its place at a yet-to-be-announced date.
Behind the two championship challengers, Valtteri Bottas maintained his impressive qualifying form in Canada by claiming third on the grid ahead of the sister Ferrari of Kimi Räikkönen.
Neither of the Finnish drivers was able to match their respective teammates, with Bottas over seven-tenths of a second down on Hamilton’s Q3 effort.
Räikkönen’s session was untidy by his usual standards, brushing the wall in Q1 – fortunately without damage to his Ferrari – and then losing time on his fastest Q3 lap with a mistake at Turn 1.
Red Bull Racing secured its customary lockout of the third row of the grid, with Max Verstappen bettering teammate Daniel Ricciardo by less than two-tenths of a second in the final reckoning. Positively for the team, Verstappen’s fastest lap was within 0.2 seconds of the slower Ferrari of Räikkönen at a circuit where the RB13 is not expected to fare well.
Williams’ Felipe Massa qualified an impressive seventh-fastest ahead of Force India duo Sergio Pérez and Esteban Ocon. Nico Hülkenberg impressively hauled his unfancied Renault into Q3 and will start tenth.
Scuderia Toro Rosso was expected to feature in the final session of qualifying, however neither of their drivers made it through to the top-ten shootout after mistakes from both drivers in Q2.
Daniil Kvyat glanced the wall at Turn 4 and damaged his right rear suspension on his final flying lap, while Carlos Sainz Jr had a wild spin at Turn 1 after dropping a wheel onto the grass under braking for the left-hander. Kvyat ultimately managed eleventh-fastest, while Sainz – who will start two spots behind – was unhappy that his teammate didn’t return the favour of giving him a tow to help improve his straight-line speed.
The duo was split by McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, who once again outshone his teammate Stoffel Vandoorne and the capabilities of his car to comfortably get into Q2. The Spaniard’s fastest lap was just 0.03 seconds shy of beating Kvyat, but he has already conceded that he is likely to slip back in the race.
Romain Grosjean complained of a lack of his grip in his Haas, qualifying the Ferrari-powered car fourteenth-fastest ahead of the second Renault of Jolyon Palmer. The Briton ran close to the pace of teammate Hülkenberg in Q1, but had an untidy second session that featured a wild lock-up and detour through the Turn 1 run-off.
Aside from Sainz and Palmer’s incidents, Turn 1 proved to be a black spot for Sauber’s Pascal Wehrlein, who dropped a wheel onto the grass on approach to the left-hander. The German suffered an uncontrolled spin, sliding backwards into the barriers and badly damaging the rear of his car.
His accident, coming late in the first phase of qualifying, forced a number of drivers to abandon their final flying laps, which consigned Stoffel Vandoorne to his sixth failure to escape Q1 this season.
Fellow rookie Lance Stroll was unable to harness the support of his home crowd and will start 17th on the grid in his Williams. He starts ahead of the second Haas of Kevin Magnussen, who complained of encountering traffic on each of his flying lap attempts.
Despite bring a number of upgrades, the Saubers will again occupy the back row of the grid. Marcus Ericsson outqualified Wehrlein for the first time this season.
Sunday’s 70-lap Canadian Grand Prix will start at 14:00 local time (GMT -4).
|FORMULA 1 GRAND PRIX DU CANADA 2017 – FINAL QUALIFYING RESULTS|
|Q3 Qualifiers||Team / Entry||Time||Gap||Tyre|
|1.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W08||1:11.459|
|2.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari SF70H||1:11.789||+ 0.330|
|3.||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W08||1:12.177||+ 0.718|
|4.||Kimi Räikkönen||Scuderia Ferrari SF70H||1:12.252||+ 0.793|
|5.||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB13||1:12.403||+ 0.944|
|6.||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB13||1:12.557||+ 1.098|
|7.||Felipe Massa||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW40||1:20.858||+ 1.399|
|8.||Sergio Pérez||Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM10||1:13.018||+ 1.559|
|9.||Esteban Ocon||Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM10||1:13.135||+ 1.676|
|10.||Nico Hülkenberg||Renault Sport F1 Team RS17||1:13.271||+ 1.812|
|Q2 Qualifiers||Team / Entry||Time||Gap**||Tyre|
|11.||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR12||1:13.690||+ 1.194|
|12.||Fernando Alonso||McLaren-Honda MCL32||1:13.693||+ 1.197|
|13.||Carlos Sainz Jr||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR12||1:13.756||+ 1.260|
|14.||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-17||1:13.839||+ 1.343|
|15.||Jolyon Palmer||Renault Sport F1 Team RS17||1:14.293||+ 1.797|
|Q1 Qualifiers||Team / Entry||Time||Gap*||Tyre|
|16.||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren-Honda MCL32||1:14.182||+ 1.497|
|17.||Lance Stroll||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW40||1:14.209||+ 1.524|
|18.||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-17||1:14.318||+ 1.633|
|19.||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C36||1:14.495||+ 1.810|
|20.||Pascal Wehrlein||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C36||1:14.810||+ 2.125|
* Denotes gap to fastest Q1 time of 1:12.685 posted by Valtteri Bottas
** Denotes gap to fastest Q2 time of 1:12.496 posted by Lewis Hamilton
- Pascal Wehrlein will take a five-place grid penalty for fitting a replacement gearbox before it had completed six successive Grands Prix of use.
Image via Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team