Lewis Hamilton set a blistering pace in Montreal to take the 65th pole position of his career and equal the marker set by his childhood hero Ayrton Senna. Hamilton’s lap of 1:11.459 was the fastest ever lap of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and was good enough to beat Ferraris Sebastian Vettel by 0.330s. Hamilton’s achievement was reward with the gift from the Senna family of a helmet worn in races by the legendary Brazilian driver.
In Q1 both Vettel and Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen were on track early and both chose to do so on the supersoft Pirellis. Vettel quickly rose to the top of the order and with his second lap on the tyre set a time of 1:13.046 that was eventually good enough to secure passage to Q2 in P3. Raikkonen, too, set an early banker, though his time of 1:13.548 saw him drift out to P9 by the time the flag fell.
It was ultrasofts all round for their rivals and the session was topped by Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas with a lap of 1:12.685. Hamilton was second, just three thousdanths of a second behind.
At the other end of the order, Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz was hovering just above the drop zone with a minute remaining but the Spaniard’s blushes were spared when Pascal Wehrlein made a mistake in Turn 1 of his final flyer.
The Sauber driver took too much of the track on the right hand side of the exit and got on the dirt. He immediately spun and slid backwards into the barriers, bringing out the yello flags. The flags ended any hope of improvement for those behind and the session ended with McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne eliminated in 16th place ahead of Williams’ Lance Stroll, Haas’ Kevin Magnussen and the Saubers of Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein.
As with Q1 the second session was again a by-the-numbers exercise for the front-runners. Hamilton topped the order with a lap of 1:12.496, six hundredths of a second clear of Bottas. The Ferraris slotted into third and fourth, with Raikkonen ahead of Vettel after the latter’s lap was compromised by a loss of control in Turn 3. The Red Bulls of Verstappen and Ricciardo were fifth and sixth ahead of Williams’ Felipe Massa, the Force Indias of Sergipo Perz and Esteban Ocon and the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg.
Eliminated in 11th place was Daniil Kvyat, who suffered a right-rear puncture on his final lap and was forced to return to the pits. It was a tricky session for team-mate Sainz too. The Spaniard spun early in the session at Turn 1 and was quickly on the radio to tell his team that the car was “a nightmare’ and that he could “do nothing’. His later laps were an improvement but Sainz was eventually ruled out in P13, just behind the McLaren of Fernando Alonso. The final men eliminated in Q2 were Haas’ Romain Grosjean in 14th place and Renault’s Jolyon Palmer in P15.
At the start of the Q3 Hamilton laid down the early mark with a superb lap of 1:11.791 to set the fastest ever lap of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 0.484s up on Ralf Schumacher’s 2004 time.
Vettel was operating at a similar level though and with his run the German posted a time just four thousandths of a second slower than his rivals.
Hamilton was in inspired form, however, and is final run utterly ruled out any comeback from the German, with the Mercedes man sliced 0.332 off his first run to set Vettel the huge task of bypassing a time of 1:11.459. Vettel tried a third run, but pushing too hard the lap slipped away. Hamilton claimed the 65th podium of his career to equal his great hero Senna.
With Vettel second, third place went to Bottas with Raikkonen fourth. Row three went to Red Bull Racing, with Verstappen ahead of Ricciardo. Massa was seventh for Williams, while the Force Indias of Perez and Ocon were seventh and eight respectively. Hulkenberg will start tenth.
2017 Canadian Grand Prix – Qualifying
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:11.459s –
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:11.789s 0.330s
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:12.177s 0.718s
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:12.252s 0.793s
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:12.403s 0.944s
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:12.557s 1.098s
7 Felipe Massa Williams 1:12.858s 1.399s
8 Sergio Perez Force India 1:13.018s 1.559s
9 Esteban Ocon Force India 1:13.135s 1.676s
10 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:13.271s 1.812s
11 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:13.690s –
12 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:13.693s –
13 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:13.756s –
14 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:13.839s –
15 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:14.293s –
16 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 1:14.182s –
17 Lance Stroll Williams 1:14.209s –
18 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:14.318s –
19 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:14.495s –
20 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber 1:14.810s –