Friday saw Max Verstappen avoid any crashes and he finished fastest in both practice sessions. However, it was Sebastian Vettel who took pole for the Canadian Grand Prix as he looks to close in on Lewis Hamilton at the top of the table.
After his success on Friday, Max Verstappen made it a clean sweep of the practice session finishing fastest in final practice with a lap of 1.11.599. Sebastian Vettel didn’t have the most enjoyable of Friday’s, but it started to get better on Saturday beginning by being second-fastest with his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen just behind in third. Lewis Hamilton was fourth and there was just over a tenth of a second between the top four. Daniel Ricciardo was in fifth with the other Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas in sixth.
Sebastian Vettel’s day definitely got better as it went on as he clinched pole position for the Canadian Grand Prix. He finished 0.093 seconds ahead of a Mercedes, but it was Bottas who will start in second place on the grid rather than Championship leader Lewis Hamilton.
Max Verstappen failed in his bid to be the youngest driver to claim an F1 pole position but will start third on the grid just pipping Hamilton. The British driver is bidding for a fourth straight win here but made some costly mistakes during qualifying including twice locking his brakes at the hairpin and was 0.232 seconds off the pace. Also making costly errors was Kimi Raikkonen who slipped down from third to fifth after running wide on the exit of Turn Two.
Daniel Ricciardo will start in sixth and will keep that place on the grid after it turned out he won’t be receiving any grid penalties for this race. Red Bull had assumed that was going to be the case after the engine problems in Monaco, but they have been able to replace the broken part with one that had previously been used at the Chinese Grand Prix this season. The Australian driver is still in big danger of receiving penalties and he believes that will be the case at the French Grand Prix.
The Renault of Nico Hulkenburg will start seventh on the grid with Esteban Ocon in his Force India in eight. Hulkenberg’s team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr finished ninth fastest with the other Force India of Sergio Perez completing the top ten.
Friday had shown some promising signs for McLaren, but they had a terrible time during qualifying on a track where their lack of straight-line speed and poor slow-corner performances are going to be highlighted. Fernando Alonso will start his 300th race in 14th place with team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne in 15th.
One driver that will be relieved was the under-pressure Brendon Hartley who finished 12th fastest in his Toro Rosso. His team-mate Pierre Gasly didn’t fare so well only making 16th due to an engine problem.
Speaking after qualifying, Sebastian Vettel was in a lot more confident mood than he was on Friday.: “Yesterday we were a bit in trouble and I just couldn’t get the rhythm, but today it switched on and what a day. The car was incredible in quality,” said the German who trails Lewis Hamilton by 14 points.
Tyres could play a big part in Sunday’s race, well that’s what Mercedes believe but Red Bull have already shown their durability this season. Then again, Verstappen has shown us just how easily he can end up being out of a race within seconds after a mistake.
Vettel will be hopeful that he can close the gap on Hamilton at the top of the table. If Lewis can cut out the errors though, he will be hard to beat on a track that he has had tremendous success at. It all sets the scene for a fascinating race. I’ll be back with another blog soon, til then enjoy your racing.
Steve Ashfeld for Pillow Motor Sport