MONTREAL, June 9 (AFP): Sebastian Vettel ended Mercedes’ run of early-season qualifying supremacy on Saturday when he claimed a dramatic late pole position for Ferrari in a crash-hit showdown at the Canadian Grand Prix.
“I feel so very, very happy for the team,” Vettel said. “I am full of adrenaline and the last few weeks have been tough for us. The car felt very good and now I hope we can carry that into the race.”
The four-time champion repeated his 2018 success, when he won from pole, by outpacing championship leader Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes by two-tenths of a second at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
It was Vettel’s first pole position triumph of the season, his first pole in 17 races since last year’s German Grand Prix and a signal that Ferrari’s superior straight-line speed was well-suited to the track.
“Seb did a stunning lap and he deserved to be on pole,” said Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff.
“Lewis picked up a couple of mistakes in the hairpin.”
Defending five-time champion Hamilton of Mercedes had appeared to be on course for his record seventh Canadian pole until the final laps, when he was outpaced by Vettel in the dying seconds.
“We’re certainly very happy and the entire weekend here we have been performing ok so this is a positive surprise for us,” said Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto.
“The track will improve. It will be a lot hotter on Sunday so it will be a tough race.”
Vettel’s Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc claimed third place on the grid.
“I don’t really know how I struggled with the car and the set-up,” he said.
“Congratulations to Seb. He deserves it and hopefully I’ll have a better race from my side tomorrow.
“We are strong on the long run pace and hopefully it will be the same tomorrow and we can have a good run.”
Vettel beamed as he talked to a congratulatory Hamilton after the session.
Vettel clocked a best lap of one minute and 10.240 seconds to beat Hamilton’s lap in 1:10.446. “He’s bloody good in qualifying,” said Vettel, pointing to Hamilton. “Hard to crack … I really enjoyed it.”
“You know what, the feeling in the car when it just keeps coming and the feeling – it felt so good. I enjoyed it and I’m very happy and happy for the team over the last few races, it’s been very tough.” Hamilton said: “I don’t feel disappointment. We gave it everything I had got. They were faster and in the last sector they were killing us, the timing was right, procedures were perfect, we had P1 for a second, but we knew they were quick.
“I’m glad I was able to split the Ferraris. The weather is fantastic, we’ve got some great fans here so hopefully we can put on a great show.” Mercedes had been fastest in qualifying in five of the six races since the start of the year and will now face a battle to extend their record run of six season-opening wins in Sunday’s race.
It was the 56th pole position of Vettel’s career and came after Kevin Magnussen had crashed into the “wall of champions” in his Haas car at the end of Q2. He was unhurt.Daniel Ricciardo of Renault qualified fourth, ahead of Pierre Gasly of Red Bull and Valtteri Bottas in the second Mercedes. The Finn spun in Q3 and was unable to recover and clock an improved lap. Nico Hulkenberg was seventh in the second Renault ahead of the two McLarens of Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz. Magnussen qualified 10th.