Vettel Grabs Chaotic Canadian Pole

Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel has grabbed his third pole position in a row at the Canadian Grand Prix, conquering intense conditions to trump Lewis Hamilton in second and Valtteri Bottas, who put in a fantastic performance to take P3 on the grid for Sunday’s race.

Less than two minutes before Qualifying began, the rain hit the circuit. It was a light drizzle, but it’s light rain that is almost worse than heavy rain, as in slippy conditions, one must use the slick tires to put in a competitive time.

The Toro Rosso’s were first out, followed by Esteban Gutierrez, Romain Grosjean and soon, the rest of the grid while drivers attempted to put in a good lap before the rain really set in. Heavy rain, obviously, would seriously slow down the lap times. Kimi Raikkonen proved the problems with light, skipping across the grass at turn 4 while Marussia’s Jules Bianchi was also caught out by the conditions, losing his Marussia under braking at the hairpin. Eventually, the teams admitted that the rain was just to heavy to run on slick tires and the drivers boxed for the intermediate compounds.

Even with intermediates fitted, the drivers were left to crawl the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Lewis Hamilton cut turn 10, Sergio Perez cut turn 4, Adrian Sutil slid into the run off at turn 8 and Fernando Alonso went off at turn 2 – all within a few minutes as they fought to set a lap which would see them through to Q2.

Sebastian Vettel set the benchmark early on, which ten minutes into the session, couldn’t yet be bettered while both Toro Rosso’s stood in the knock-out zone. Jules Bianchi was in the wars several minutes later, cutting across turn 8 and the last corner in the same lap.

Mark Webber, who topped the morning’s FP3 session, put in a lap to go half a second clear of the rest of the grid. He stood there until Fernando Alonso jumped in to take the top spot, before Vettel stormed in and took P1 by a huge .906 of a second, the fastest time for the session.

Paul di Resta, the man who topped Friday morning’s FP1 session could do not better than 17th in a hugely disappointing result for the team. It was worse for Lotus though – Romain Grosjean qualifying in 19th, excluding the 10-place grid penalty which is carried on from his Monaco clash with Daniel Ricciardo. He will start 22nd.

In Q2, once again, everyone scrambled to get out on track to set a time as quickly as possible in case heavier rain hit the circuit. The rain had pretty much stopped at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, the water left behind the only challenge the drivers were now left with.

Felipe Massa was caught out on his first attempt, out-braking himself and having to reverse out of the Turn 3 run-off area. The rain continued to get heavier as Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel skipped across the last corner. Esteban Gutierrez also brought his Sauber across the sausage kerb at Turn 8.

Lewis Hamilton got caught out again, sliding into the run-off at Turn 3, followed immediately by Adrian Sutil’s Force India who looked to be using the Mercedes as a braking point. It was utter chaos.

Four minutes left in the session and Jenson Button was sixteenth, and last. Jenson Button, last? In Canada? In the wet!? He soon recovered and set a lap good enough for seventh, although he would need to keep an eye on his place for fears he’d slip down into the knockout zone.

Two minutes left in the session and the yellow flags came out. Felipe Massa had lost his Ferrari under braking and slid sideways into the barrier at Turn 3. The Brazilian climbed from the stricken Ferrari and the red flag was deployed.

On the restart several minutes later, no more rain had fallen. Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel who sat 1st and 2nd failed to make it to the line to start a lap before the checkered flag, nor could Jenson Button who was in the drop zone. Lewis Hamilton jumped to P1 and demoted the two Red Bull’s to P2 and P3. Valtteri Bottas had a fantastic session and finished in 4th while Both Toro Rossos also made it through and both McLaren’s failed to progress to Q3.

Sebastian Vettel led the stream of cars from the pitlane in Q3 and naturally, was the first man to set a time. His first effort was a 1.25.425 which was two seconds faster than Kimi Raikkonen who set a lap seconds later. Rosberg was next to set a lap and went 2nd, soon beaten by Hamilton who also went 2nd. With all drivers setting at least one lap, Mark Webber stood ninth, having cut the corner at turn 4 and having to set another lap, His second effort put him fourth ahead of Alonso, Raikkonen and Vergne, provisionally.

Valtteri Bottas was storming, his first lap putting him P3, merely 0.472 shy of Vettel’s top time. Kimi Raikkonen pitted for a new set of intermediate boots but couldn’t improve his time. Fernando Alonso led an expedition into the hairpin run-off area and was forced to abandon his lap.

With three minutes left to go, the track showed no sign of speeding up, instead it was getting wetter and the drivers failed to improve on their times, leaving Sebastian Vettel in P1, Lewis Hamilton in P2 and Valtteri Bottas in an amazing P3.

  1.  Sebastian Vettel
  2.  Lewis Hamilton
  3.  Valtteri Bottas
  4.  Nico Rosberg
  5.  Mark Webber
  6.  Fernando Alonso
  7.  Jean-Eric Vergne
  8. Adrian Sutil
  9.  Kimi Raikkonen
  10.  Daniel Ricciardo
  11. Nico Hulkenberg
  12. Sergio Perez
  13. Pastor Maldonado
  14. Jenson Button
  15. Esteban Gutierrez
  16. Felipe Massa
  17. Paul di Resta
  18. Charles Pic
  19. Romain Grosjean
  20. Jules Bianchi
  21. Max Chilton
  22. Giedo van der Garde
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