Sebastian Vettel put himself in the best position for tomorrow’s FIA Formula One Canadian Grand Prix with a lap three tenths faster than the nearest challenger and track favorite, Lewis Hamilton.
The 1:13.784 flyer gave Vettel his 32nd career pole; nevertheless, he spoke cautiously about the race: “We put ourselves in a good position, eight metres ahead of Lewis and then we go from there.”
Despite his good pace in practices yesterday, Hamilton admitted to having to push the car all the way just to make second place.
“I was very happy with my lap – I squeezed every last ounce out of the car and didn’t expect to be so far up the grid. In fact, I struggled a little in Q1 and Q2, and I wasn’t sure about my ultimate pace at first, but, fortunately, in the end, I pulled it all together for Q3."
The car has proved to be competitive.
His final effort that set the time saw Hamilton’s tires just miss the Champions’ wall by millimeters.
Fernando Alonso brought his Ferrari up to third after solid runs all day. He attributes his pace to a slew of upgrades added to the F2012 chassis since Monte Carlo.
“The car has proved to be competitive, even on a track which certainly does not suit its characteristics,” Alonso said. “That is mainly down to the updates we have brought here, which have worked as we expected, which makes me confident for the rest of the season too.”
Mark Webber finished fourth in the session, further proving Red Bull’s Montreal prowess despite having to alter the car’s floor since the last round; they’ll be the team to watch in the race.
“I’m surprised I’m in fourth,” Webber said. “I wasn’t super happy with the last few runs in terms of confidence in the car and that means you don’t get the most out of yourself, so fourth is okay.”
Nico Rosberg came in fifth, and will look to get close to his second-place in Monaco tomorrow. The other Mercedes of Michael Schumacher ended ninth, despite the German’s experience at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve—he’s won here seven times.
Felipe Massa was obviously trying hard in throughout the day, coming ever closer to lock-ups in the hairpin and impacts at turn 13. It paid off though, as the Brazilian set a good sixth-placed time in only the second Saturday this year he made Q2.
Romain Grosjean starts the fourth row. The Frenchman did well to get his Lotus as high as seventh after a tough Friday for the team, evidenced today by teammate Kimi Raikkonen’s end position of twelfth.
Jenson Button had a very troublesome qualifying coming off a near lack of practice courtesy of a FP1 oil leak. Cameras caught him shredding his front right Pirelli under braking at the Hairpin in Q2, then radio picked up his complaints to the team about the corner.
Pastor Maldonado provided the day’s crash at the Champions’ Wall while on a flying lap after the checkered flag in Q2. At that time, Button was narrowly given a chance at Q3. This he squandered by putting laps on a pair of prime tires and eventually finishing tenth.
On my final lap I just took too much kerb and ended up hitting the wall.
Maldonado’s impact was the second of the weekend for a Williams car, Bruno Senna having made a very similar mistake in practice. He will start P16 ahead of Maldonado. It’s a surprisingly off-form performance for 2012’s race-winning Williams team.
“On my final lap I just took too much kerb and ended up hitting the wall,” Maldonado said of his crash. “Which is disappointing because I was on a good lap that should have put me into Q3.”
Kamui Kobayashi was the first of those eliminated before the final run, then Raikkonen, then Nico Hulkenberg. The other Sauber of Sergio Perez will start fifteenth.
Daniel Ricciardo came in fourteenth in his Toro Rosso while teammate Jean-Eric Vergne seemed to suffer damage in a morning FP3 off, putting his best time only 20th, behind both Caterhams.
“My little mistake in FP3 cost me a lot,” Vergne said. “I didn’t get any running this morning and then this afternoon, I never really got a clean lap, encountering a lot of traffic which is therefore very disappointing.”
No drivers were eliminated by the 107% rule.
If Lewis Hamilton is to prevent a 2011-like start-to-finish domination by Vettel, he’ll need to keep within a second of the Red Bull in the early laps, as the long DRS zone here in Canada plays right into an early leader’s hands. Both Lewis and Sebastian will be looking over their shoulders though, at Fernando Alonso. His Ferrari has been fast and consistent here.