Sebastian Vettel ended Mercedes’ run of early-season qualifying supremacy on Saturday when he claimed a dramatic late pole position for Ferrari in a crash-hit showdown at the Canadian Grand Prix.
The four-time champion repeated his 2018 success, when he won from pole, by outpacing championship leader Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes by two-tenths of a second at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
It was Vettel’s first pole position triumph of the season, his first pole in 17 races since last year’s German Grand Prix and a signal that Ferrari’s superior straight-line speed was well-suited to the track.
Vettel clocked a best lap of one minute and 10.240 seconds to beat Hamilton’s lap in 1:10.446. “He’s bloody good in qualifying,” said Vettel, pointing to Hamilton. “Hard to crack … I really enjoyed it.”
“I wish I could do the lap again just for the fun of it,” the German added.
Mercedes had been fastest in qualifying in all six races since the start of the year and will now face a battle to extend their record run of six season-opening wins in Monday’s race (AEST).
It was the 56th pole position of Vettel’s career and came after Kevin Magnussen had crashed into the “wall of champions” in his Haas car at the end of Q2. He was unhurt.
“I don’t know why, but for whatever reason, I don’t feel disappointed,” said defending five-time champion Hamilton, who apologised to his team on radio. “This is good. This is how racing should be.”
Vettel’s Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc was third fastest ahead of Daniel Ricciardo of Renault — who was looking back with a smile at both Red Bull drivers.
“Awesome job, mate. P4. P4. Well done,” came the message from his team.
“Ha ha ha ha … yes! F*** yes! Ha ha ha ha … cheers boys,” Ricciardo replied.
Great to see that smile back. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press via AP)Source:AP
Max Verstappen, who is fourth in the championship, was the shock absentee from Q3 after failing to post a time on soft tyres in Q2 due to Kevin Magnussen’s huge crash.
Verstappen initially went out on the mediums as Red Bull looked to follow Mercedes and Ferrari’s race tyre strategy, but after only managing 11th place he had to emerge for another lap. He was on for a quick time and a safe Q3 progression before Magnussen clattered into the famous Wall of Champions at the last chicane, then smashing into the pit wall.
Pierre Gasly of Red Bull was fifth and Valtteri Bottas sixth in the second Mercedes. The Finn spun in Q3 and was unable to recover and clock an improved lap.
Nico Hulkenberg was seventh for Renault while both McLarens made it into Q3, though Carlos Sainz is facing an investigation for impeding Alex Albon on track.
Magnussen, who qualified 10th, may also drop down the grid, due to the damage to his Haas.
Canadian GP qualifying result
1) Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari
2) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
3) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
4) Daniel Ricciardo, Renault
5) Pierre Gasly, Red Bill
6) Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes
7) Nico Hulkenberg, Renault
8) Lando Norris, McLaren
9) Carlos Sainz, McLaren
10) Kevin Magnussen, Haas
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