Vettel surprises no-one with Canada pole
Sebastian Vettel has scored his first Canadian pole and his fifth for the season to continue Red Bull’s 100 per cent qualifying record for 2011.
Ferrari looked to be the only team capable of upsetting the world’s fastest drinks company – and indeed kept them from locking out the grid’s front row. Alonso qualified in second while Massa managed a close third.
It was a greatly improved showing from Massa, who had the measure of Alonso for much of qualifying. The Spaniard only just pipped him at the end of the final session, with two-tenths separating them.
‘We feel good, we feel confident,’ said Alonso. ‘Conditions are likely to change, so maybe it’s the least important qualifying of the year.’
‘We have a chance to win the race for sure.’
‘It’s a very good weekend for us,’ agreed Massa. We were pretty competitive this morning and in qualifying. Even when we were on the same tyres as Red Bull it was also close.’
‘I think that’s really good for us, and good for me. We’re starting in a better position compared to other races.’
Ferrari’s renewed performance relegated Australian Mark Webber to fourth after a difficult day at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. He missed FP3 while his team pulled his car apart in an attempt to repair a KERS fault. He ran without it during qualifying, leaving his best time 0.4 seconds slower than his world champion teammate.
Martin Whitmarsh confirmed before the race that McLaren would be running compromised wet-weather setup in hope that tomorrow’s race would be rain-affected.
Mercedes boss Ross Brawn, meanwhile, found this surprising. The weather forecast estimates a roughly 50 per cent chance of rain on Sunday.
Ross Brawn would prove to know what he was talking about, with McLaren’s setup depriving them of their much promised qualifying pace and robbing them of their chance to end Red Bull’s Saturday dominance.
Hamilton – three-time winner in Montreal – dragged his confused car to P5 with compatriot Button two spot behind him.
This didn’t give Brawn much to smile about, however, with Rosberg and Schumacher only managing sixth and eighth. It remains to be seen whether the weather will play a part in tomorrow’s race to vindicate Whitmarsh’s decision.
The Renault drivers bookended the Q3 runners with Heidfeld and Petrov qualifying in P9 and P10 respectively.
It was business as usual at the top of the time sheets for qualifying’s first two sessions, with Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari trading fastest times on the prime tyre.
Paul di Resta continued to impress by showing up his clubbing fan teammate Sutil. The Scot missed out on a Q3 berth by only 0.3 seconds in P11, while Sutil made do with P14.
Rubens Barrichello, on the other hand, continued his leisurely opening stint to the season, managing only P15, with teammate Maldonado again qualifying ahead of him in P12.
Kobayashi managed P13 for Sauber, while de la Rosa’s best had him in P17 after finding himself back with the team that fired him with five races remaining in 2011 to fill in for the ailing Sergio Perez.
Buemi in the final Toro Rosso, found his way P15, making the order from tenth di Rsta, Maldonado, Kobayashi, Sutil, Burmi, Barrichello and de la Rosa.
Q1 saw Narain Karthikeyan and Jerome d’Ambrosio at serious risk of failing to qualify with times slower than 107 per cent of Alonso’s 1:13.822 – around two seconds faster than Q1 speeds last year.
A Late run on the option supersoft tyre saw Karthikeyan scrape through, though d’Ambrosio will have to rely on clemency from the race stewards to race on Sunday.
Jaime Alguersuari became the slowest of the established teams, joining Trulli, Kovalinen, Liuzzi, Glock, Karthikeyan and d’Ambrosio.
The 2011 Canadian Grand Prix begins at spritely hour of 3AM, Monday morning.
How d’you like Canada now?