The weekend hadn’t been going that well for Lewis Hamilton but on Saturday he was left shaken and speechless but for all good reasons as he took the 65th pole of his career.
Championship leader Sebastian Vettel was fastest in the final practice session as Ferrari showed just what they were capable of in Canada. It was a 1-2 for the Italian team with Kimi Raikkonen 0.292 seconds behind his team-mate. Lewis Hamilton could only manage third, 0.354 seconds behind Vettel and another consistent performance saw Max Verstappen in fourth ahead of Bottas in fifth. Daniel Ricciardo had a tough Friday and was down in eighth in final practice but at least he got through the whole session.
Not so many spins today but Bottas nearly hit the wall at the tricky Turn Three/Four chicane. Also having problems were Jolyon Palmer in his Renault and Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson who ended up on the grass.
After a few problems in recent races, Lewis Hamilton showed a return to form as he clinched pole position for Sunday’s Canadian Grand Prix. It’s the 65th of his career equalling the number achieved by the legendary Ayrton Senna, who Hamilton has idolised since he was a child and just three behind Michael Schumacher.
Hamilton was 0.33 seconds faster than Sebastian Vettel and was overjoyed when a member of Senna’s family gave him one of the former world champion’s helmets. It had looked as if Vettel was going to pip him for pole. At one stage in the top-ten shoot-out, the German was just 0.004 seconds behind Hamilton but then the British driver produced a great lap to finish 0.335 seconds clear. Valtteri Bottas finished in third with Kimi Raikkonen in fourth. It could be a battle between Hamilton and Vettel though with them both finishing half a second ahead of their team-mates. Max Verstappen finished in fifth just ahead of his team-mate Daniel Riccardio. Fernando Alonso finished 12th in his McLaren with Stoffel Vandoorne down in 16th.
A delighted Hamilton told reports “I am so happy” but admitted it’s a “close battle with Ferrari”. However, when he needed a good lap he got it and Hamilton described it as “a sexy lap, a great lap.” He thanked the Mercedes team who have learnt from the mistakes of recent weeks. Championship leader Sebastian Vettel is still confident of extending his lead telling reporters. “I think we have the pace (to win), I was not so happy with the last lap but it was a good qualifying session.”
It looks like being a great race on Sunday. Hamilton clearly loves this track and is looking for a hat-trick of wins. That would make six in total and just one behind Michael Schumacher’s record. Both Vettel and Ricciardo have also won the Canadian Grand Prix so we could be in for fireworks. Hope you enjoy the race, I’ll be back with another blog later in the month.