VF1blog: Vettel returns to pole in Canada
Reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel has returned to the top of the pecking order with pole position ahead of Sunday's 70-lap Canadian Grand Prix, after a damp and cold qualifying hour around the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. The German ace will start the race alongside Lewis Hamilton, with Valtteri Bottas a strong 3rd for Williams.
The all-important qualifying hour once again began in inclement weather conditions around Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, with light rain just beginning to fall over a drying track. Initially the entire field spilled out onto the track on the super-soft tyre compound, before the rain intensified and forced the field to return to the pits for intermediate tyres. Max Chilton spun on his initial lap on dry tyres, as the drivers struggled for grip in the cool and damp conditions.
After switching to the intermediate tyre compound, Jean-Eric Vergne produced the first timed lap of the session with a 01:28.204, before Felipe Massa lowered the benchmark for the Scuderia. The Mercedes’ duo then rose to the top with Lewis Hamilton and then Nico Rosberg, with the latter setting a 01:26.781. Reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel then began to trade fastest laps with Lewis Hamilton, with the former eventually rising to the top once again with a 01:24.083.
Nico Rosberg soon brought their battle to a conclusion, with the Monaco Grand Prix winner rising to the top with a 01:23.840. Lewis Hamilton wasted no time in rising back to the top for the German marque, producing a 01:23.801 as the times continued to tumble. Felipe Massa and then Mark Webber continued to lower benchmark as the session progressed, before two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso rose to the top with a 01:23.224. Just as the opening session drew to a conclusion, Sebastian Vettel stormed to the top with a 01:22.318, as Paul di Resta was once again frustratingly eliminated down in 17th. The Scotsman was joined in elimination from proceedings along with Charles Pic, Romain Grosjean, Jules Bianchi, Max Chilton and Giedo van der Garde.
As the second segment of qualifying got underway, the rain overhead gradually intensified as the race stewards confirmed a change in climactic conditions. Felipe Massa ran straight on at Turn 3, however the Brazilian managed to engage the reverse gear and continue circulating. Mark Webber set the initial pace for Red Bull, before Lewis Hamilton disposed of the Australian driver with a 01:29.259. As the rain intensified overhead, many drivers including Lewis Hamilton, Adrian Sutil, Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel all ran wide at the final chicane.
However, the reigning World Champion managed to master a scintillating lap the next time around with a 01:28.825 despite the tricky weather conditions. Lewis Hamilton and Adrian Sutil still continued to struggle out on track, as the duo both ran straight on at Turn 3. Luckily they both managed to continue circulating, as Sebastian Vettel continued to improve at the front before Mark Webber disposed of his team-mate with a 01:28.145. The session was briefly halted in the dying minutes with a red flag delay, after Felipe Massa once again made a mistake at Turn 3 and slammed into the tyre barrier.
The Canadian marshals quickly cleared the Brazilian’s stricken Ferrari, allowing a flurry of drivers to immediately return to the circuit with just over a minute remaining in the session. Esteban Gutierrez led out a long queue of awaiting drivers as the session was resumed, before Lewis Hamilton rose to the top for Mercedes with a 01:27.649. The session drew to a dramatic conclusion, as both McLaren’s were eliminated from proceedings. Sergio Perez and Jenson Button were joined by Nico Hulkenberg, Pastor Maldonado, Esteban Gutierrez and Felipe Massa in being eliminated from proceedings.
The all-important top ten shootout began with the entire field immediately taking to the circuit, with Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber at the front of the long and impatient queue. The reigning Champion managed to produce the first timed lap of the session with a 01:25.425, which eventually remained unbeaten as the rain once again intensified and prevented anyone from thwarting the German ace. Former GP3 Champion and Formula 1 rookie Valtteri Bottas produced a stunning lap time for Williams, rising himself majestically into 3rd position with a 01:25.897.
Sebastian Vettel will start tomorrow’s 70-lap Canadian Grand Prix alongside the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton, in what should be a thrilling run down to Turn 1 at the start. Valtteri Bottas will commandeer 3rd position on the grid, alongside Monaco Grand Prix winner Nico Rosberg. With the weather set to remain unpredictable for the race, it seems Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve will once again produce a thrilling spectacle.
Author: Andy Young
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