0

Hamilton ends Red Bull’s pole monopoly in Canada

Lewis Hamilton broke Red Bull’s dominance of qualifying by putting his McLaren on pole position for tomorrow's Canadian Grand Prix.

The 2007 winner of this race have Mark Webber starting alongside him on the front row, and Sebastian Vettel will start from third.

Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button, Tonio Liuzzi, Felipe Massa, Robert Kubica, Adrian Sutil and Nico Rosberg make up the top ten.

Michael Schumacher provided the shock of the session by failing to make it out of Q2 for the first time since his return to F1, and the seven-time winner here in Montreal will thirteenth on tomorrow's grid.

Drivers up and down the grid were complaining of lack of grip throughout the three practice sessions, and the teams were struggling to understand the two tyre compounds brought to Canada by Bridgestone. Many were heading into qualifying unsure of whether the medium or super-soft tyres would give them the best prospects for pole position, and crucially for the first stint of tomorrow's race.

Lewis Hamilton was fastest in FP3, and for the second race running there was a real threat of a McLaren ruining Red Bull's qualifying record, which has seen them take every pole position so far this season.

Before these matters were decided, the relative formality of Q1 had to be completed. The drivers at Lotus, Virgin Racing and Hispania had shown nothing during free practice to suggest that they would be finishing outside the bottom six. However, just as the clock ticked down to zero, Heikki Kovalainen in the Lotus put in a lap time to get ahead of Kamui Kobayashi in the standings.

The Sauber driver did then put in a faster lap, but could not catch his teammate Pedro de la Rosa, and will start tomorrow's race from P18. Kovalainen's Lotus qualified only two tenths of a second behind Kobayashi, a performance that both Mike Gascoyne and Tony Fernandes will be very pleased with.

Meanwhile, at the front, Hamilton was the fastest of anybody in Q1, ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso.

At the beginning of Q2 the two McLarens were unique among the front-running teams by sending their cars out on the hard tyre compound, while the rest used a super-soft set as they traded fastest times with Hamilton. Drivers then switched to the opposite type of tyre to dry and find the ideal tyre with which to set their Q3 laps on, assuming they made it through of course.

With five minutes of the fifteen remaining, Button and Michael Schumacher were teetering on the edge as they sat ninth and tenth fastest.

With just a minute left Liuzzi popped-up into the top ten, knocking Schumacher out and dropping Button down to tenth. Schumacher then regained his tenth position, displacing Button down to eleventh. Button responded by setting the seventh-fastest time and Schumacher could not get himself back into a top-ten position.

For the first time this season Michael Schumacher did not make it into Q3. In fact, he could only qualify thirteenth, and was out-qualified by the two Williams of Rubens Barrichello and Nico Hulkenberg, who will occupy the sixth row of the Montreal grid.

Vitaly Petrov, Sebastien Buemi, Jaime Alguersuari and Pedro de la Rosa will start behind the seven-time world champion. Schumacher was nearly half a second off the pace of his teammate Nico Rosberg.

Lewis Hamilton was fastest in Q2, but only three hundredths of a second faster than Sebastian Vettel.

The two McLarens were the first out of the pit lane in Q3, both opting for the super-soft tyre. Hamilton quickly signalled his intentions with a 1:15.500, nearly a second faster than Button's first effort.

With half of Q3 gone, only the two McLaren drivers and Fernando Alonso had set a lap time, but the two Red Bull drivers were out on the harder compounds. The two McLarens pitted and took on more soft tyres.

With just over a minute of qualifying left, Alonso finally knocked Hamilton of his perch, but the Spaniard was instantly replaced at the top of the timesheets by Mark Webber. Hamilton tried to get himself back to the top of the timing screens, and on his last attempt was up on the pole time through sectors one and two. He made it stick and took pole position by a quarter of a second right at the end, thus ending the Red Bull dominance of qualifying.

Lewis Hamilton was told to stop out on the circuit after starting his lap, with his race engineer telling him that he did not have enough fuel to get his car back round to the pit lane. The capacity crowd where then treated with the spectacle of Hamilton pushing his own car down the straight.

Hamilton, who has qualified on pole position here at every race he has participated in, will start tomorrow's race on soft tyres, whereas the two Red Bull cars starting behind him will start on the harder compound. This will be crucial to pit strategies tomorrow, and may have a big impact on the eventual race result.