MONTREAL, QC - JUNE 09: Top three qualifiers Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Ferrari, vValtteri Bottas of Finland and Mercedes GP nd Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing pose for a photo in parc ferme during qualifying for the Canadian Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on June 9, 2018 in Montreal, Canada. (Photo by Will Taylor-Medhurst/Getty Images)

Sebastian Vettel of Scuderia Ferrari stormed to the 54th pole position of his F1 career in the qualifying session of the Canadian Grand Prix. He was just ahead of Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes on P2 and Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing on P3. Lewis Hamilton joins Verstappen in the second row at P4. Kimi Raikkonen and Daniel Ricciardo complete the third row of the grid.

Sebastian Vettel Takes a Closely Fought Pole

Q1: Grosjean’s wretched luck in 2018 continues

The first qualifying session started with air temperatures at 22 degrees C and track temperatures at 44 degrees C at the Gilles Villenueve Circuit. Barely had the qualifying session commenced, when Romain Grosjean‘s car started spewing huge plumes of smoke in the pit lane. The Haas driver could not set a time. There were engine scares for Carlos Sainz as well, but the Renault team got them sorted.

Most drivers started on the pink-striped hypersoft tyres. The much maligned Brendon Hartley set an impressive 8th fastest time. His teammate Pierre Gasly was unlucky to be eliminated along with Lance Stroll, Sergey Sirotkin, Marcus Ericsson and Romain Grosjean. Vettel topped Q1 with a time of 1:11.710, with the McLarens just scraping through to Q2.

Q2: Ricciardo gets his act together

Most top cars started Q2 on the ultrasoft tyres except the Red Bulls who were on hypersofts. Daniel Ricciardo, who had been slower than his teammate throughout the weekend topped Q2 with a time of 1:11.434. Vettel looked to be going faster than him on his final run, but had to abort his lap in the end due to unusual traffic.

Drivers eliminated were Kevin Magnussen, Brendon Hartley, Charles Leclerc, Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne. Both the Renaults and Force India cars managed to reach Q3.

Q3: Vettel sets a new lap record

The top ten shootout was expected to be close and so it turned out. But Lewis Hamilton had an uncharacteristically off day, never threatening for pole position. He locked up his front tyres on his flying laps and was outqualified by his teammate.

Sebastian Vettel went quickest early on and then again improved his timing for a lap record of 1:10.764s. Valtteri Bottas got to within a tenth of that pace for a front row start. Max Verstappen, who was fastest in all three Free Practice sessions, slotted his car at P3, just two-tenths shy of pole.

Close Performance of the Top Three teams bode well for a Close Race

Come Sunday, the fans should be treated to an interesting race at the circuit in Montreal. The top-three teams are quite evenly matched in performance and there is a high probability of Safety Car periods. The infamous “wall of champions” is sure to claim a few victims, which will make for a twist in strategy. Buckle up for a nail-biting race in Canada.

Canadian GP Qualifying Results:

Pos No Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3 Laps
1 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:11.710 1:11.524 1:10.764 18
2 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:11.950 1:11.514 1:10.857 20
3 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:12.008 1:11.472 1:10.937 16
4 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:11.835 1:11.740 1:10.996 21
5 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:11.725 1:11.620 1:11.095 20
6 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:12.459 1:11.434 1:11.116 18
7 27 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:12.795 1:11.916 1:11.973 15
8 31 Esteban Ocon Force India Mercedes 1:12.577 1:12.141 1:12.084 14
9 55 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:12.689 1:12.097 1:12.168 15
10 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:12.702 1:12.395 1:12.671 13
11 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:12.680 1:12.606 22
12 28 Brendon Hartley Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 1:12.587 1:12.635 17
13 16 Charles Leclerc Sauber Ferrari 1:12.945 1:12.661 22
14 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Renault 1:12.979 1:12.856 14
15 2 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren Renault 1:12.998 1:12.865 14
16 10 Pierre Gasly Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 1:13.047 8
17 18 Lance Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:13.590 8
18 35 Sergey Sirotkin Williams Mercedes 1:13.643 10
19 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:14.593 6

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