Defending champion and series leader Lewis Hamilton bounced back to his best on Saturday to claim pole position ahead of his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg for Sunday’s Canadian Grand Prix.
The two-time champion recovered from two days of erratic form in practice to produce a smooth and fast demonstration of single lap speed and a best lap in one minute and 14.393 seconds.
That lifted him 0.309 seconds clear of Rosberg with in third and fourth Finnish duo Kimi Raikkonen in a Ferrari and Valtteri Bottas of Williams.
“That was a rubbish end to qualifying” said Rosberg.
On a day of surprises, two world champions failed to progress from Q1 – Briton Jenson Button of McLaren, who suffered an engine failure in the morning, and Raikkonen’s teammate Sebastian Vettel, who suffered electronic problems and wound up in 16th place.
Two weeks on from Mercedes’ Monaco fiasco, Hamilton’s lap was nearly half a second faster than last year’s pole lap by Rosberg at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, one of the 30-year-old Briton’s favourite tracks where he is seeking a fourth win.
His pole success was his sixth in seven races this year, the 44th of his career and his fourth in Canada where he won his maiden Formula One race in 2007.
He needs only one more pole to level with four-time champion Vettel in the record books.
Romain Grosjean was fifth fastest for Lotus ahead of his teammate Pastor Maldonado, Nico Hulkenberg of Force India and the two Red Bulls of Russian Daniil Kvyat and Australian Daniel Ricciardo. Mexican Sergio Perez was 10th quickest for Force India.
In dry conditions under a blue sky, Q1 began with the two Mercedes men dicing for fastest time as Hamilton, at last, appeared to be finding a rhythm, albeit with a few scary moments.
Rosberg wound up second-quickest behind a rapid Grosjean, by just 0.060 seconds, and only 0.002 ahead of Hamilton, while, at the back of the field, Vettel unexpectedly failed to progress from Q1.
Button was already out, following an engine failure in his McLaren in the morning’s final free practice session.
Vettel qualified 16th in his Ferrari, ahead of Felipe Massa, who was a surprise 17th for Williams, Spaniard Roberto Merhi and his Manor Marussia teammate Will Stevens. Button was 20th and last.
Their grid positions, however, were likely to differ from their qualifying results because of the penalties variously given to other drivers for accidents and engine changes.
Vettel’s flop was explained as due to a failure of the Ferrari energy recovery system. His reaction was pithy and profane, resulting in two sentences of bleeps on the BBC’s television feed.
Later, he explained: “As soon as we went out for the first run, we didn’t have the power. We tried everything to get it back, but we couldn’t.
“I don’t think it has anything to do with the engine, it is more on the electronic side.”
After all his earlier travails, it was Hamilton who seized the initiative in Q2 with a strunning lap in 1:14.661, the best of the weekend.
Rosberg was 0.012 behind him and the pair were more than half a second clear of the rest. Grosjean wound up third.
Despite a bold effort, the Toro Rossos of rookies Carlos Sainz and Dutch teenager Max Verstappen missed the cut for the top ten shootout in 11th and 12th along with the Saubers of Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr.
They sandwiched 14th placed two-time champion Fernando Alonso in his McLaren.
Verstappen had earlier been handed a 10-place grid penalty for fitting his fifth engine of the year, that adding to a five-place penalty dished out for his part in a collision with Grosjean at Monaco.Canadian Grand Prix, Qualifying – Saturday, 6 June 2015
|7||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||1:16.186||1:15.706||1:15.614||21|
|8||26||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull||1:16.415||1:15.891||1:16.079||27|
|9||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||1:16.410||1:16.006||1:16.114||23|
|10||11||Sergio Perez||Force India||1:16.827||1:15.974||1:16.336||23|
|11||55||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso||1:16.611||1:16.042||19|
|12||33||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso||1:16.361||1:16.245||20|
Note – Verstappen penalised 5 grid places for causing a collision at the previous round, and a further 10 places for using his fifth engine of the season.
Note – Button failed to set a qualifying time within the Q1 107% requirement of 1:21.141, so races at the stewards’ discretion. Penalised 15 grid places for using a fifth turbo and a fifth MGU-H.
Note – Vettel penalised 5 grid places for passing another car under red flags during FP3.