Lewis Hamilton beat Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg by just six hundredths of a second to claim a fifth career Canadian Grand Prix pole position, putting him just one adrift of Michael Schumacher’s record at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
After setting an impressive lap of 1:13.076 to top the list at the end of Q2, Hamilton ramped up the pace even further with his first run in Q3, lowering the benchmark to 1:12. 812. Rosberg followed almost immediately and while the German’s lap was similarly outstanding, he could not outpace his team-mate and so sat six hundredth behind in P2. And when Rosberg locked up in Turn One of his second attempt the battle was over. Hamilton had secured his fifth career Canadian GP pole position.
Afterwards the defending champion admitted that margin was tight but added that “it doesn’t matter how far you are ahead, as long as you are ahead”.
“In practice it was a much bigger gap than today,” he continued. “Today, I just didn’t have the pace that I had yesterday but clearly it was enough. There was definitely more time in it. But it was great to see how close we all were, I think that’s great for the fans to see. It’s going to be interesting tomorrow but [pole] is the best place to start that’s for sure.”
Rosberg, meanwhile, said that he had been pleased with his first run in Q3 and that in the race “everything is possible”.
“The first lap in Q3 was good. Not quite enough to beat Lewis but it was still a good lap,” he said. “Next one I tried to pull one out of the bag but it didn’t work out, so that’s it, so second place. Still a good team result of course, again to show that we are the fastest, the fastest car, which has been great, even on this very unique track here. Yeah, for tomorrow everything is still possible, you know, the weather forecast is all over the place, and from second place it’s all doable.”
After the first runs, third place was occupied by Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen but on the final runs he was eclipsed to great laps, by team-mate Daniel Ricciardo who found two tenths of a lap over his first run to set a time of 1:13.166, two tenths ahead of Verstappen’s besty time of 1:13.414 and also by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who claimed third place on the grid.
The German might have got closer but over the radio he told the team that he had lost traction out of the hairpin on his way to a lap of 1:12.990, making him the only non-works Mercedes driver to get below 1m 13s.
“I was very happy with the lap in general, I was maybe a bit greedy out of ten and maybe not greedy enough into turn six but yeah, there wasn’t an awful lot to grab otherwise, as I said, very happy,” he said “I wanted to get below the 1m 13s mark because then I knew it would be very close with the Mercedes. I did that but just by one hundredth so yeah, a little bit was missing but overall I think we have a great car, we did a step so I’m happy with how the weekend has turned out. We did a step or so overnight so I felt in general very comfortable and enjoyed qualifying a lot.”
With Ricciardo fourth and Verstappen fifth for Red Bull, sixth place went to Kimi Raikkonen who only completed one run in Q3. Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa will make up an all-Williams row eight, while Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and McLaren’s Fernando Alonso rounded out the top ten.
Earlier Q2 was halted almost as soon as it began when Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz crashed at the Wall of Champions. Having only completed an out lap he would thus end the session in P16 and eliminated ahead of him from P15 up were Romain Grosjean, Esteban Gutierrez, Daniil Kvyat, Jenson Button and Sergio Perez.
Q1 ended under yellow flags as Manor’s Rio Haryanto hit the wall and sustained a punctuire that forced him to stop at Turn 12. That meant there could be no further improvements and eliminated at the end of the first session from P17 back were Jolyon Palmer, Pascal Wehrlein, Marcus Ericsson, Felipe Nasr and Kevin Magnussen who did not take part following a crash in FP3.
2016 Canadian Grand Prix – Qualifying
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:14.121 1:13.076 1:12.812
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:13.714 1:13.094 1:12.874
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:13.925 1:13.857 1:12.990
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:14.030 1:13.540 1:13.166
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull Rcaing 1:14.601 1:13.793 1:13.414
6 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:14.477 1:13.849 1:13.579
7 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:14.389 1:13.791 1:13.670
8 Felipe Massa Williams 1:14.815 1:13.864 1:13.769
9 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:14.663 1:14.166 1:13.952
10 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:15.026 1:14.260 1:14.338
11 Sergio Perez Force India 1:14.814 1:14.317
12 Jenson Button McLaren 1:14.755 1:14.437
13 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:14.829 1:14.457
14 Esteban Gutierrez Haas 1:15.148 1:14.571
15 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:15.444 1:14.803
16 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:14.714 1:21.956
17 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:15.159
18 Pascal Wehrlein Manor 1:15.599
19 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:15.635
20 Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:16.663
21 Rio Haryanto Manor 1:17.052
22 Kevin Magnussen Renault