Vettel Masters Changeable Conditions to take Pole in Montreal

Sebastian Vettel took his first pole position since the Malaysian Grand Prix today in Montreal, ending a run of four Mercedes pole positions.

Lewis Hamilton will start alongside Vettel on the front row of the grid for the Canadian Grand Prix.

Vatteri Bottas took advantage of the changeable track conditions to qualify an excellent third for WilliamsNico Rosberg qualified fourth, Mark Webber was fifth, and Fernando Alonso was only sixth.

Felipe Massa caused a red flag during Q2 after a small crash at Turn 3 and, after the restart, Jenson Button failed to start another flying lap and qualified only fourteenth.

Paul di Resta failed to make it out of Q1 for the second consecutive race as his Force India team again messed up their wet-weather strategy.

The light rain that began five minutes before qualifying meant that the whole field was keen to get out of the garage at the start of the session to ensure a banker lap in case conditions worsened.

However, after initially heading out onto the damp track on slick tyres, all of the drivers came straight back into the pit lane without setting a time to switch to intermediates.

Despite a dry line quickly appearing on track, there were plenty of off-track excursions from the 22 drivers, and it continued to be too wet for slick tyres. Nobody put their car in the wall though, as lap times continued to tumble.

As the clock for Q1 counted down to zero, Paul di Resta and Romain Grosjean were stuck in the bottom six. Neither driver improved sufficiently and fell at the first hurdle along with usual suspects.

Di Resta ended the session in ahead of Charles Pic, who out-qualified Grosjean. Jules Bianchi out-qualified Marussia teammate Max Chilton and Giedo van der Garde was slowest of all in Q1. Grosjean has a ten-place grid penalty for his collision with Daniel Ricciardo at the last race in Monaco.

Sebastian Vettel was fastest in Q1, with Fernando Alonso in second.

The second part of qualifying continued with fresh rain falling onto the track. Drivers continued to use intermediates, and continued to make liberal use of the run-off areas and miss plenty of chicanes.

Just as McLaren began to discuss with Sergio Perez the possibility of needing full wet tyres, Vettel’s lap times were continuing to tumble and, at one point, he nearly two seconds quicker than the rest of the field.

With less than three minutes of Q2 remaining, Felipe Massa hit the wall at Turn 3, and bringing out the red flag.

The session recommenced with 1:59 left on the clock. The moment the restart time was announced, a three-line queue began to form at the end of the pit lane; all of the drivers were keen to get out on track for their final shot at Q3.

Esteban Gutierrez was the first driver in the train on the out lap. It had not rained since Massa’s accident, and all drivers knew the importance of achieving their best lap time.

Sebastian Vettel, who was second fastest at the restart, came back into the pits at the end of this out-lap. Mark Webber and Jenson Button both failed to reach the start line before the clock counted down to zero. Webber was top of the timesheets at the time, but Button was stuck down in twelfth place, and therefore out of qualifying.

After that flurry of laps, Lewis Hamilton finished Q2 top of the timesheets, ahead of Webber and Vettel. Valtteri Bottas was an impressive fourth for Williams, giving them their first Q3 appearance of 2013.

Of the losers in those final manic moments, Nico Hulkenberg was beaten into Q3 by less than a tenth of a second from Daniel Ricciardo.

It was a disastrous few minutes for McLaren: Button finished the session fourteenth after failing to start his flying lap, and Perez could only qualify in twelfth.

Pastor Maldonado finished Q2 in thirteenth, Esteban Gutierrez was fifteenth and Massa, who could not take part in that final flurry on account of his damaged car, was sixteenth.

Sebastian Vettel headed the queue of cars waiting to get out on track for Q3, with all drivers again eager to get out onto the track before the forecast rain came over the track.

Vettel was leading the race for pole as he pitted halfway through Q3. The rain was coming down heavier, yet drivers came into the pits for fresh intermediate tyres and went straight back out on track.

As the track continued to get wetter, nobody was able to get any closer to Vettel’s provisional pole time of 1:25.425. There appeared to be too little grip in the final sector of the lap, and the times were reflecting that.