Montreal, June 9, 2012 – Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel has taken his second pole position of the season, using the P Zero Red supersoft tyres to go quickest in Canada for the second year in succession thanks to a time of 1m13.784s. Vettel was also fastest in the third and final free practice session this morning by just 0.006s from Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, with both drivers using the supersoft.
Second on the grid – three-tenths of a second behind Vettel – was Lewis Hamilton, who was quickest in the first two free practice sessions on Friday: once with the P Zero Yellow soft and once with the P Zero Red supersoft.
Ambient temperatures of 24 degrees centigrade (with 35 degrees of track temperature) were higher for the start of qualifying than they had been during Friday’s free practice sessions, when the teams completed their set-up work. For tomorrow’s race, conditions are expected to be warmer still.
The two HRTs, both Marussias and the Caterham of Vitaly Petrov were the only cars to start the first qualifying session on the supersoft tyre. Many of the frontrunners – including both McLarens – used the supersoft in the first session, but the quickest driver was Vettel on the soft.
The 17 drivers that went into qualifying two all started on the supersoft tyre, apart from the Ferrari drivers who went out on the soft before switching to the supersoft. The Ferrari drivers, together with both Red Bulls and Mercedes, only used one set of supersoft tyres to get through to final qualifying – and it was again Vettel who was quickest in qualifying two, this time on the supersoft.
The all-important final session was run exclusively on the supersoft, although McLaren’s Jenson Button completed just one run on the soft tyres. Vettel’s pole time – the most dominant performance seen in any of the sessions held so far – was set on his second run with the supersoft although his time on the first run (1m13.905s) would still have been good enough for pole.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “The difference between the two compounds was less than many people anticipated in this afternoon’s warmer conditions, with approximately half a second between the soft and the supersoft tyres. With a short lap and evenly-matched cars, it was almost impossible to predict who might end up with pole position, as the gaps from first to last were incredibly small: just one second spanning the 17 cars in qualifying two. The level of tyre degradation is so far quite contained with the supersoft lasting for 30 laps or more, so we could see a one-stop strategy from some teams while the majority might try a two-stop strategy. The tactics will consist of the timing of the stops, and seeing which teams can get the most performance and durability out of the tyre that suits them best. Canada is always one of the most unpredictable races of the year and the last four races this year have been won by the driver who started from pole – but historically this has been less important in Canada.”