Canadian GP: Hamilton nabs pole from Red Bull
But the McLaren driver was using a different tire in the decisive Q3 segment -- the fragile 'option' or softer compound, as opposed to the harder 'prime' fitted to the next-best Red Bulls of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel.
The three prior practice sessions at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve proved that Bridgestone's products are struggling this weekend; particularly the option.
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said earlier in Montreal that it had fallen apart "like cheese" in Canada, moving some to surmise that by qualifying with it on Saturday, McLaren is gambling on an early safety car.
9 of the previous 12 Canadian grands prix have seen the safety car appear.
"We would hope for an early-ish safety car, but I think the quickest way to run the race anyway is to start on the soft tire, run a short (first) stint, and run on the prime for most of the race.
"If there's a safety car it's a very strong strategy," team boss Martin Whitmarsh told the BBC after qualifying.
However, Vettel told reporters that he thinks Red Bull is beginning the race on the "right tire", because the softer one lasts only "a couple of laps".
Hamilton acknowledged that the option "goes off quite quickly" but raised the high "possibility of a safety car".
The 25-year-old Briton had to be delivered to parc ferme in an FIA car, after his engineer told him to stop on the circuit on the in-lap so there is enough fuel left in the tank for a mandatory fuel sample.
"The FIA don't take kindly to you not having enough fuel to get into the pits at the end of the lap -- they'll be taking a look at that," predicted BBC commentator Martin Brundle.
Ferrari's Fernando Alonso is fourth ahead of the second McLaren of Jenson Button, while Vitantonio Liuzzi qualified sixth in what Brundle describes as a "career saving performance".
Lewis Hamilton (1st, 1:15.105): "I grazed the barriers at the end of P3, which meant my mechanics had to change the right-hand-side suspension ahead of qualifying. Watching them working so quickly yet so efficiently to fix the car was amazing - like watching an orchestra playing! Really, really impressive. Before I went out this afternoon, I told them that I reckon I owed them pole position for all their efforts - so I was on a bit of a mission right from the beginning of Q1. At the end of my fastest lap, it was such a fantastic feeling crossing the line - the team came on the radio through Turn Two and told me I'd got pole. I knew it was a good lap - but, when they told me it was the best lap, it just brought back so many memories of my previous times here. It was exactly the same ecstatic feeling as when I took my very first pole position here in 2007. I think it's going to be an interesting race tomorrow - I hope it stays sunny and that the track gets better. The Red Bulls are in an interesting position, because they'll start tomorrow on the Prime tire. They'll have to use the Option at some stage, obviously, so it will be an interesting one. If there's a Safety Car, it could have a very big influence on the result of the race. This track, this city, this country, these people - it all works out the best for me. I love it. It's almost on a par with the feeling I get racing in the UK. I always have a good time in Montreal, the people are so friendly, and I have so many great supporters here. In fact, coasting to a halt on the slow-down lap was really enjoyable. I got to wave to all the fans - and I'd say it was a unique experience, in fact."
Jenson Button (5th, 1:15.520): "I was happy with my Q3 lap, but I couldn't touch Lewis - it was a phenomenal lap from him. He's qualified on pole every time he's been here, so he's obviously a specialist around this place. Fifth place isn't where I'd ideally like to be, but I gave it everything and I couldn't have gone any quicker. It's good to see that some teams were running different tires in Q3 - that's the first time that's happened this year. Red Bull set their fastest laps on Primes, so it's going to be an interesting start to the race, seeing if they can overtake. The Prime is the quicker tire, but they're going to have to change to the Option at some point during the race. And if they get stuck behind Lewis in the early laps, then I'm sure they're going to get frustrated. So, overall, I think it's going to be a good race - both fascinating and fun - and strategy will be very important: it will be all about tire management, so going flat-out every lap might not be the quickest way to get to the end of the race in the shortest possible time."
Martin Whitmarsh, Team Principal: "Today we saw a stunning and dramatic lap from Lewis to snatch pole position in the last seconds of qualifying. He loves this circuit - he scored his first ever grand prix pole position and his first ever grand prix victory here in 2007, of course - and, having won in Turkey two weeks ago, he's very motivated to continue his winning run here in Canada. He did his time on the Option tire, and will therefore start on it tomorrow. Clearly, it's less durable than the Prime, but you have to use it some time and we think we've got a strong strategy for the race. Jenson did a very solid job, too, securing fifth place on tomorrow's grid, and is also well placed to score plenty of points tomorrow. He's consistently shown himself to be an extremely fast and combative driver in race conditions - and, all things considered, we're very happy with how things are shaping up for tomorrow. Finally, I want to add two more things. First, I want to say 'Bravo!' to our mechanics, who did such a brilliant job to get Lewis's car ready for qualifying in so short a time. And, second, it's fantastic that we're racing in North America once again. So let's hope Formula 1 puts on a brilliant show tomorrow for the Formula 1 fans of not only Canada but of all of North America, too."
Nico Rosberg (10th, 1:16.071): "That wasn't a great qualifying session for us today. We have a good car here this weekend but unfortunately we couldn't get the tires to work properly this afternoon. That was the big issue for us today. The harder tire wasn't too bad in Q1 but we struggled with the option later on and there was just no more lap time to be had. It is very disappointing to be starting in tenth place but anything can happen in the race so we can only look forward and take advantage where possible tomorrow."
Michael Schumacher (13th, 1:16.492): "I am obviously disappointed after today's qualifying. We simply did not have the balance or grip and overall we had a lot of problems with braking and handling. The car was just not performing as we expected. We had similar issues yesterday afternoon and we made some changes after second practice. This morning, the changes seemed to have made sense as our position was reasonable but this afternoon, I was facing similar issues again. It's difficult to understand the reasons at the moment but we will look deeply into it now and find a good strategy for the race tomorrow."
Ross Brawn, Team Principal: "A very disappointing qualifying session for us today, particularly as I was quite encouraged by our performance yesterday and this morning. However when it came to qualifying, we just weren't able to put our laps together. We tried both the prime and option tires but finding the performance seemed to get away from us. There was very little difference between the tires and ultimately we struggled to get the best out of them."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "Not the best possible result for us today. We certainly didn't extract the maximum out of our cars and didn't use the tires in the best possible way. But tomorrow we will possibly be in a better position."
Mark Webber (2nd, 1:15.373): "We thought we could do a good job in qualifying on the hard tire and it turned out to be the case. We knew we would still try and have a crack at the front row, but we also knew the McLarens were very strong on the option tire, which they elected to take. It's a long race tomorrow, we're planning to do the best we can and we're hoping the tires will be beneficial to us. We're also mindful that there might be the odd safety car here and there - there are many different ways tomorrow's race may unfold. But, we've stuck to our guns, done a great job and Seb and I are in the top three again."
Sebastian Vettel (3rd, 1:15.420): "It was a pretty entertaining session, especially Q3. We went out on the hard tires, which take a while to come in. We knew that and to be honest I didn't get a good lap in until the very last lap, so it wasn't perfect timing, but it worked. My final lap wasn't that clean, so I'm happy I made it to third today; it's good. Looking to tomorrow, I think I should have a good start as I'm on the inside. I'm happy that both Mark and I made it to these positions with what is, from my point of view, the right tire. Yesterday's practice showed that the soft tire is quite difficult to last for more than a couple of laps."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "A really interesting qualifying session. We opted for a strategically different route to the other cars around us, by opting to run on the hard tire. Both drivers felt it was the better tire to start the race on tomorrow. I'm very happy with both Mark and Sebastian's performance at this track that, coming here, we knew shouldn't be one of our strongest. So to achieve second and third is a really strong team result."
Fabrice Lom, Renault: "It's a bit of a sad day, as it's the first time we didn't get pole position this year. But, it's still a good result - second and third is very respectable, especially on this track. It's difficult for engines due to the long straights, but we think we have the tool to do well during tomorrow's race."
Fernando Alonso (4th, 1:15.435): "So far this weekend, we have always been in the fight for the top places. We have a good grid position and now we must prepare ourselves as well as possible for a race, which for the first time this season will feature a confrontation between different strategy options, with two of the top five cars choosing to start on the hard tires. It will be a very long and tough race and it will be vital to maintain concentration throughout, because on this track a moment's distraction can carry a heavy penalty. Usually, our car is rather kind on the tires which could be a decisive factor tomorrow, as will be the management of the brakes. Realistically, a podium finish is a possible goal, while it would take something special to get the win. In Q3, if I had been able to use another set of tires, then maybe I could have cut my time down by a few hundredths, but the same applies to other drivers, therefore it's hard to say how it would have gone if everyone had driven a perfect qualifying. All in all, we can be pleased with today's performance."
Felipe Massa (7th, 1:15.688): "It was a very tough and closely contested qualifying. In Q3, I was getting quicker with every lap to such an extent that my best time came on lap four. I definitely cannot be happy with seventh place, but at least our car is more competitive than it was in Turkey. It was a shame I didn't manage to produce a perfect lap, otherwise I could have been higher up the order: at the end, as the track continued to improve, a few drivers went just a tiny bit quicker than me. Tomorrow, we must try and get a good start and on the back of that, build a good race. It will be important to get to the finish on a track which usually puts a high premium on reliability and one's driving, given that there is little margin for error."
Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal: "We are reasonably pleased with this result, which maybe could even have been slightly better. Both yesterday and today we have proved capable of fighting for the top places, but we are well aware that it is the race that counts as this is when the points are given out. Traditionally, the Canadian Grand Prix is action packed and so tomorrow we must be ready to make the most of every opportunity. Compared to the earlier races in the season, there is also the variable of the different tire choice strategies of the cars classified on the top three rows: we will see who has made the right decision. Reliability remains the crucial factor, especially on a track like Montreal which is tough on the mechanical components of the cars."
Chris Dyer: "We are happy to have gone back to getting both cars through to Q3. Both Felipe and Fernando got the most out of the performance of the F10: a couple of tiny errors cost practically nothing in terms of lap times. It's a shame that, right at the end, for just a few thousandths, Fernando found himself pushed back to fourth place and will therefore start from the dirtier side of the grid. From a purely technical point of view, it was a relatively quiet day, without any major problems and we believe we have a good potential to do well in tomorrow's race."
Rubens Barrichello (11th, 1:16.434): "It was good to battle with Nico today and I think the fact that we are so close shows that 11th and 12th was the best we could achieve today and we should be happy that we got the upmost from the car. For the race tomorrow, I know from experience that the race really demands that you look after your brakes, so I am confident that together with the tire issues here that there will be a good opportunity to do well if we get everything right."
Nico Hulkenberg (12th, 1:16.438): "I think 11th and 12th is a pretty good outcome today - not of course what we want, but we extracted the most from the situation and for me at least, the track this afternoon was in the best shape it has been all weekend. Although it was a little frustrating to just be pipped by Rubens, I am confident that the tire management issues will provide lots of strategy options and should make for an interesting race and plenty of opportunity for us tomorrow."
Sam Michael, Technical Director: "We made a good progression from practice to qualifying today and only missed out on the top ten by a narrow margin. Now we're concentrating on our race strategy and tire selection, which will be critical for the race."
Robert Kubica (8th, 1:15.715): "It was another good qualifying session for us, but there was a difficult decision to make between the tire compounds in Q3. During Q2 we clearly saw that the option tire was quicker for qualifying, but, like yesterday, there was a lot of graining. So we made the decision to run the prime tire for Q3 and, although that cost us some time in qualifying, it will hopefully put us in a good position for the race tomorrow. I'm looking forward to the race and it will be interesting to see how the tire strategies unfold."
Vitaly Petrov (14th, 1:16.844): "In Q1 everything went okay and we did a good job, but in Q2 I had some difficulty warming up the rear tires. I tried to push hard for three laps to build some heat, but it still didn't work. The main problem was under braking because I was losing the rear and there was very little traction. The car was better in Q1, so we need to understand why we lost performance in Q2. For the race tomorrow, I think it will be tough to overtake here and make up positions, but I will try my best."
Eric Boullier, Team Principal: "The session today was all about the tires because it's clear that the option is the quicker tire over one lap, whereas the prime will be better in the race. So it's going to be interesting to see how the drivers cope with the tires tomorrow. Robert ran Q3 on the prime, which we believe is the best way to start the race and hopefully we will get the rewards tomorrow. As for Vitaly, it was a little bit frustrating because he had a very good Q1 and showed good pace, but he struggled for grip in Q2 and we need to try and understand the problems he had. It's a shame because I think he had the pace to make it into Q3 today. For the race tomorrow, we will fight hard to bring home points with both cars."
Alan Permane, Chief Race Engineer: "It's good to see Robert make it easily through to Q3 once again and it was a fairly straightforward session for him. The option tire was quicker today and he ran that in Q2, but we then chose to use the prime tire in Q3. This probably cost us a better starting position, but we feel it's the better tire to start the race on and hopefully we will have an advantage over those starting on the option in the first stint of the race. Vitaly struggled for grip in Q2 and unfortunately missed out on Q3. He will start 14th and can hopefully make some progress in the race to challenge for points."
Vitantonio Liuzzi (6th, 1:15.648): "It's good to be back in business after Turkey! We understood a lot of things from there and also Monaco and pushed really hard to make things better. We changed the chassis and brought some new updates that we tested on Friday and then this morning and, so far, everything is great. P6 is a good position to be in, but it won't be easy tomorrow as the tire wear will be high and I think it will make for a really crazy race. This circuit seems to suit us well, with our aero package and set-up, and we've seen a big step forward. It's a great team effort and if Adrian and I can both finish in the points tomorrow it would make a brilliant reward for the hard work we've done over the past few weeks."
Adrian Sutil (9th, 1:15.881): "It was a good result to be in Q3 again, the fifth time this season and the fourth in a row. In general the car was good and behaved well, but we just couldn't get the best out of the tires on the last run. I had a little problem getting the temperature in the front tires and the car felt a bit more understeery, but we can be happy with the lap in the end and P9 is a good starting position for tomorrow. The race will be tough and for sure it will be hard to make the tires last over the distance, but we'll give it our best and look to convert the performance into points tomorrow. As a team it's looking pretty good right now, Q3 for both cars and hopefully another double points finish in the race."
Dr. Vijay Mallya, Team Principal: "I am delighted with this result and so happy to see Tonio back to his best again. We believed in him and wanted to give him the support he needed to realize the potential we knew was in there. He's justified this belief today with a gritty performance. Adrian likewise had a strong session to put both Force Indias into the top ten. As we all know it's tomorrow that counts and Canada has a reputation as an unpredictable race so we have now got to refocus on converting this performance into a strong points haul, which I believe, should be very achievable."
Sebastien Buemi (15th, 1:16.928): "Fifteenth is about the most I could do, so I am reasonably satisfied, although it was so close that a couple of tenths might have made a difference to the position, but the same thing applies to everyone and I think my lap was pretty good. The track improved an incredible amount today giving a lot more grip than on Friday, so you could accelerate and brake much harder this afternoon. It would be nice to get into the lower end of the points positions in the race, which would involve passing a few cars, but our long runs in free practice were pretty good and here you often get incidents and Safety Cars which mix up the order, so let's wait and see. The team did a good job improving the car from yesterday."
Jaime Alguersuari (16th, 1:17.029): "With the lack of grip from the track and the low temperatures it was hard for me to get the tires to work at their best, but I can be happy with this afternoon's performance, just half a tenth behind my team-mate. I think that, because of last night's rain the track condition did not improve as much as we would have liked. As for tomorrow, anything can happen as Canada often produces a crazy race. We just need to stay on the track and see what develops!"
Giorgio Ascanelli, Technical Director: "I am happy to still be one step ahead of my pre-season prediction for where we would be in the order and our mini-battle with Sauber is swinging one way then the other. It seems that so far this weekend we have the upper hand. I suspect our technical package might be a little bit inferior to them at the moment, but today our drivers did a better job. I am more than happy with the work the team here, in the factory and the wind tunnel has done. It was a major effort for us to come here with a few new components: some of them are a factor of the specific nature of this track and others are down to the development program, one element of which did not work, thus costing us some time yesterday. Overall, we look a bit better than in Turkey and I hope our race pace will be stronger, with the same level of reliability we have seen so far. Strategically this race will probably not be the standard one-stop and Safety Cars could play a big role. Tire performance will be critical as the new track surface is making things difficult. Earlier this year the teams requested that Bridgestone produce a rear tire with more degradation to make the racing more exciting and I expect we will see just that tomorrow, which might shuffle the pack a bit more than usual."
Heikki Kovalainen (19th, 1:18.237): "I've felt like I've done a few good qualifying laps this year, but this one was really good. I've had a decent balance all weekend, and yesterday I didn't have any problems, so I could find a good setup and had the confidence to push. We just need to find a little bit more to really take the fight to the guys in front, but tomorrow I think we can race them, I think we can have a go. I thought I had Kamui for a while, but he just got in front at the end, but you always find a little bit more when you think you can get the guy ahead and that shows how far we've come. Today shows we're making progress all the time - we were only two tenths away from Sauber today which is just great for the whole team."
Jarno Trulli (20th, 1:18.698): "It's been tricky this weekend as I haven't managed to complete that many laps and haven't been able to find a setup I'm really comfortable with. We went with the primes to begin with today, and I could see that I was close to the guys in front, so I took the gamble and went for the options at the end, but unfortunately it didn't work out. The aim tomorrow is to finish the race, and I'm optimistic we can do that, so let's see what I can do."
Tony Fernandes, Team Principal: "It's funny - a really good qualifying session for us, but really this weekend is all about getting cars across the finish line on Sunday. Having said that, today was another big step forward for us as we were just 2.34 seconds off the outright pace in Q1 and to be so close to a Sauber in qualifying is absolutely great, but also a bit frustrating as it would have been even better to beat an established team, and that shows just how far we've come in such a short time. Heikki did a fantastic job to push Kamui so hard, and Jarno also performed extremely well to stay ahead of the other new teams, particularly bearing in mind how little running he had yesterday. Tomorrow's all about seeing the checkered flag, and that's what we're really focusing on, but I also think we can take the fight to the guys ahead, and I can't wait to see how it pans out - bring it on!"
Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director: "It's been a very strong qualifying for the team today. The big question was tire choice; both drivers did their first run on the harder tire, and Heikki decided to stay with that, while Jarno switched to the option. I think Heikki managed to get a lot out of it, and it's a sign of how far we've come that we came very close to out-qualifying one of the Saubers - it would have been another great step forward for us to beat one of the established teams in a straight fight, and we're nearly there. Jarno didn't quite get the lap time out of the option tire on his last run, and I think we as a team have to take responsibility for that - his lack of running yesterday really hurt his chances, especially on the options, so we have to say sorry to him for that. But overall it was a great performance from the whole team. Looking at tomorrow, this is always one of the unpredictable races, so you never know, but our aim will be to get the two cars to the finish"
Bruno Senna (22nd, 1:19.484): "It was a good lap and I am happy with the result as we are in front of another team's driver. We could work on the setup which helped us a lot to improve the performance of the car today. Unfortunately, there was rain last night and the track got green again in the morning. The track got more grip and quicker even during the first twenty minutes of qualifying. That's why it was important to be out on the track at the end of the session in order to set the fastest lap. Thankfully, I could do a clear one on that period. Now, we have to decide the tire strategy for the race. It is going to be very tricky tomorrow for everyone because of the tire wear and hopefully we can have a good race tomorrow."
Karun Chandhok (24th, 1:27.757): "It was very frustrating today as we missed the third practice and also qualifying. We have to look into the problems and understand what went wrong. After two good sessions yesterday, it's even more frustrating as this weekend we really could have competed against the other new teams in qualifying. It will be a tricky race tomorrow with the tire wear and high probability of safety cars. So, let's see what we can do tomorrow."
Colin Kolles, Team Principal: "It was another step forward for us today as Bruno Senna only was 3.6 seconds from the quickest in qualifying session 1. He did a good lap and is closer to the car in front of him. Unfortunately, Karun Chandhok wasn't able to drive this afternoon because of a sensor issue. Now, we have to focus on a good race tomorrow."
Pedro de la Rosa (17th, 1:17.384): "Well, we knew before qualifying that it would be a difficult one. We ran the car for the first time on a significantly lower downforce level and it doesn't really suit us. We are sliding all over the place, and that's why the tires don't work. There is no grip at all and on top of that I had difficulties heating up the brakes. We have to see what we can do in tomorrow's race in terms of tire strategy, and be prepared to benefit from possible safety car situations."
Kamui Kobayashi (18th, 1:18.019): "We are having a hard weekend here. Our overall performance is not where we were in Turkey. I had big problems with warming up the tires. I just didn't get them to work and this made it impossible to exploit any of the car's potential. The fact I had traffic on my last lap didn't help either. I knew today's qualifying would be difficult, but still didn't expect it to be that bad. However, tomorrow is race day and I hope to get a chance to improve."
Peter Sauber, Team Principal: "It has been a difficult weekend right from the beginning, and I don't think we were able to exploit the full potential of the car."
James Key, Technical Director: "It was a disappointing qualifying session. I think we could have gone a little bit further, but Q3 was definitely out of reach today. In Q1 Kamui was held up a bit on his last run and, as a result, couldn't improve his position. Both drivers suffered from a lack of grip today, and the balance of the cars seemed to be quite different this afternoon to this morning, which caught us out a bit. They were limited in a different way. We needed to rebalance the cars during the qualifying session. Ultimately I think it's far from ideal where we are, and we need to have a clean race tomorrow and a sensible strategy to bring both cars home and hope for the best."
Timo Glock (21st, 1:18.941): "It was quite a difficult session for us today. Because of the problems we had yesterday the car wasn't perfect but we did made quite a nice step overnight which got us close to Lotus today. The car is still quite difficult to drive over the curbs and bumps but reverting to a higher downforce set-up was the right direction. We will look at the strategy and see how we can make the most of tomorrow's race."
Lucas di Grassi (23rd, 1:19.675): "It was not a very good qualifying for me today. For my second run I got a lot of traffic - especially with Kobayashi - and I was not able to extract the maximum from the car. I lost the quickest two laps because of this. The car is still some way from the optimum set-up for here so we will now look at the best strategy for the race tomorrow and do the best job possible. I'd like to thank everyone in the team for their great work in getting the car back together in time for Qualifying after my 'off' in Third Practice this morning."
Nick Wirth, Technical Director: "Our overnight changes brought us closer to our expected pace here, but in two very different ways. Lucas decided to stick to our Canada-specific aero package, whilst Timo wanted to run more downforce. The tire issues that all teams have faced have definitely made our Canada package look a bit light on overall downforce, which we saw in the speed trap from FP3, where we had both the fastest and slowest top speeds of all teams! In reverting to higher downforce, Timo has also been somewhat compromised by what aero parts we have available here, so we couldn't give him the aero efficiency that we had in Turkey, which is why he was a bit slower in qualifying than we can do at the moment. I think Lucas would have found a bit more speed in his last run on a different tire, but we head into tomorrow's race with both ends of the downforce range covered and with another double finish our main target. With tire problems expected tomorrow for all teams, I think the race could be one for the fans, so let's see what we can achieve."
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