Vettel on pole for Canadian Grand Prix
9 June 2012 – Sebastian Vettel, three tenths of a second quicker than Lewis Hamilton, will start the Canadian Grand Prix from pole position. Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber fill the second row, with Michael Schumacher and Jenson Button only ninth and tenth. Pastor Maldonado made a crucial error, with a dramatic 360-degree spin in Q2.
After the action of Friday afternoon, rain poured at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and more had been feared for qualifying; however, there was no such problem as the grid-deciding session started at one o’clock. First on-track was the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg, which had missed final practice because of a fuel connector failure.
There was no doubting the big news of Q1. Not only could Jean-Éric Vergne not get to grips with his Toro Rosso, but the Frenchman was out-qualified by both Caterham drivers and ended the session in a highly disappointing 20th position. Behind, Pedro de la Rosa’s HRT stayed ahead of Marussia but Narain Karthikeyan failed to beat Charles Pic this time.
Moving into Q2, a number of drivers fitted the quicker Super Soft tyres in the closing minutes, resulting in a flurry of activity on the timesheets; Kamui Kobayashi sat in the pits and was duly knocked out by Romain Grosjean, whereas Jenson Button was about to receive the same fate as Pastor Maldonado set the best overall time in Sector 1. However, the Williams driver hit the ‘Wall of Champions’ and performed a dramatic spin at the top of the start/finish straight; this left Button in the top ten and the Venezuelan only 17th on the grid.
A poor day for Williams saw Bruno Senna struggle to 16th, but Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo was 14th and some six places ahead of Toro Rosso team-mate Vergne. Kimi Räikkönen was affected by a differential problem which prevented him from applying full throttle at times; the 2005 Montreal winner lines up 12th for the start of Sunday’s race.
At least three teams were expected to contend for pole but, notwithstanding the recent technical clarification which resulted in the outlawing of holes in their car’s floor, Red Bull did the talking on the track. Vettel put in a stunning sub-1:14.000 lap time, which he improved on his second Q3 run to deliver 1:13.784 – convincingly beating the nearest competition. Alonso was disappointed to miss out on the front row and what could have been his and Ferrari’s first pole since Singapore 2010. Webber, Rosberg, Massa and Grosjean fill positions four to seven.
An impressive Paul di Resta looked set to complete just one Q3 lap, but then returned to the track and moved up to eighth; the Force India man was assisted by more problems for Button, who lines up tenth, and an issue for Michael Schumacher, who is ninth. On his final lap, Schumacher passed the slowing Fernando Alonso at Turn 4 and claimed to have been delayed.
Vettel’s second pole of 2012 - after Bahrain - is the 32nd of his F1 career. He therefore matches 1992 World Champion Nigel Mansell and requires just two more poles to move ahead of Alain Prost and match Jim Clark for third in the all-time rankings. Topping the list are Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna, on 68 and 65 respectively.
Sunday’s 2012 Canadian Grand Prix starts at 2pm local time (BST +5) and can also be followed via the interactive GPUpdate.net Live Report