Lewis Hamilton took pole position in qualifying for the 2016 Canadian Grand Prix where, in a close session, saw the Brit take pole just 0.062 seconds ahead of Mercedes AMG PETRONAS team-mate Nico Rosberg.
The Brit took the honours after Rosberg had been the early pace setter topping Q1, but Hamilton was in supreme form and his winning lap of 1:12.812 was a scorcher. Despite his best efforts the German could not surpass his team-mate, a lock up at Turn 1 on his final run ruining his lap, which meant Rosberg had to settle for second spot, just 0.062 seconds down on the Brit, the smallest margin we have seen so far in 2016.
Coming into the weekend, and during the final practice session this morning, it had looked like qualifying might have been a close run thing, and although there was only three tenths splitting the top four drivers at the end of the session, Mercedes always had things under control. Sebastian Vettel took third place in the Scuderia Ferrari, who had a new turbocharger as well as chassis updates here in Montreal, but despite pushing to the extreme in the final part of qualifying, even brushing the wall of champions with the rear of the SF16-H at one point, the German could not make it count.
Daniel Ricciardo was fourth for Red Bull Racing, who have not looked as racy here in Canada compared to the last two rounds, but the Australian was still only three tenths down on the pole time of Hamilton, which is positive for the Milton Keynes based squad ahead of tomorrow’s race.
Max Verstappen was three tenths down on his team-mate in fifth, with Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari only able to do enough to take sixth on the grid, after leaving it late to go out on track and only getting one real shot at a lap.
Valtteri Bottas, secured seventh place for the Williams Martini Racing team, a good result after the Oxfordshire based squad had looked somewhat off the pace during the Friday practice sessions and this morning. The Finn, who was on the podium in Canada in 2015, finished ahead of team-mate Felipe Massa in eighth, a solid performance from the Brazilian who found the wall in FP1 on Friday.
Nico Hulkenberg was next up in the first of the Sahara Force India runners, after a strong final lap saw the German claim a place in Q3, knocking out team-mate Sergio Perez in the process. Fernando Alonso claimed the final Q3 spot in tenth, just 0.057 seconds ahead of the Mexican, who is the first of the drivers to be able to choose which tyres he will start the race on.
McLaren F1 driver Jenson Button took twelfth place, after looking like it was finally his time to make it into the final part of qualifying this weekend. The Brit was faster than team-mate Alonso all the way round their final laps in Q2, before a slight lock up from the 2009 world champion at Turn 10, likely cost him a place in Q3!
Daniil Kvyat, still looking slightly shaky in the Scuderia Toro Rosso, was thirteenth. The Russian receives a three place grid penalty this weekend, for causing a collision with Kevin Magnussen during the Monaco Grand Prix, which will not help his chances in tomorrow’s race. The former Red Bull driver qualified ahead of the two Haas F1 drivers, Esteban Gutierrez and Romain Grosjean, the Mexican finishing ahead of his French team-mate.
Carlos Sainz crashed within the first five minutes of Q2, when he found himself in the wall of champions, the first victim to fall foul of the wall this weekend, but one of many greats to be claimed by it in the past. It was the slightest of touches with the rear of the car, but that was enough to break the suspension and cause the front of the Toro Rosso to jag into the wall, and there was nothing more the Spaniard could do to salvage the off. It was a shame for Sainz, who had been looking strong in the early part of qualifying, posting a time half a second up on Scuderia Toro Rosso team-mate Daniil Kvyat during Q1.
The Sainz incident caused a red flag during the Q2 session, which meant there was just 11 minutes 52 seconds left on the clock when the session resumed, putting pressure on the drivers, with the majority not having set a time prior to the red flag.
The Renault Sport F1 of Jolyon Palmer made an early exit to the session having been unable to make it out of Q1, but was just one hundredth of a second shy of making it through to Q2. The Brit had an uncomfortable session, nearly finding himself in the wall of champions at one point, as he brushed the concrete with his tyres.
Pascal Wehrlein in the Manor Racing Team car also dropped out in Q1, followed by the two Sauber F1 drivers, Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr. The Swede will receive a three place grid penalty for the collision with his team-mate at Rascasse during the Monaco Grand Prix, that came about after the Brazilian refused to accept team orders.
The remaining Manor of Rio Haryanto found himself at the bottom of the Q1 drop zone, after sustaining a right rear puncture when he hit the wall on the exit of Turn 4. The Indonesian caused damage to the right rear suspension, and with the wheel hanging off the car, he could do nothing more than find a safe spot to park the car, ending his session.
Kevin Magnussen never started the qualifying session, following his shunt at the end of FP3, when he found the wall at Turn 7. The Dane may also need a new gearbox prior to the race tomorrow and will either start from the back of the grid or the pit lane.
It is all pretty close at the top with just three tenths splitting the Mercedes, a Ferrari and a Red Bull. Can the red team or the bulls bring the fight to the current world champions tomorrow? We should be in for a cracking race!
2016 Canadian Grand Prix – Qualifying Results
|4||3||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||Red Bull Racing||1:14.030||1:13.540||1:13.166|
|5||33||Max Verstappen||NED||Red Bull Racing||1:14.601||1:13.793||1:13.414|
|9||37||Nico Hulkenberg||GER||Force India||1:14.663||1:14.166||1:13.952|
|11||11||Sergio Perez||MEX||Force India||1:14.814||1:14.317|
|13||26||Daniil Kvyat||RUS||Toro Rosso||1:14.829||1:14.457|
|16||55||Carlos Sainz||SPA||Toro Rosso||1:14.714||1:21.956|
|22||20||Kevin Magnussen||DEN||Renault||no time|