Montreal - Sebastian Vettel roared to pole position with a record-breaking lap
for Ferrari in Saturday's dramatic qualifying session for this weekend's
Formula One Canadian Grand Prix.
It is the Italian team's first time on pole in Montreal since seven-time champion Michael Schumacher managed it in 2001.
"The car was incredible in qualifying and it just kept getting quicker," said Vettel, whose Ferrari team were using new engines.
"I think I was a bit in trouble after Friday practice, but I guess I woke up the right way today."
a tight and intriguing contest between the three leading teams, Vettel
clocked a best lap in a record one minute, 10.764 seconds to secure his
54th pole position and outpace nearest rival Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes
and Dutchman Max Verstappen.
Championship leader and defending
champion Lewis Hamilton was down in fourth for Mercedes - his hopes of a
fourth consecutive pole in Canada ended - ahead of Finn Kimi Raikkonen
in the second Ferrari.
Australian Daniel Ricciardo, victorious in
Monaco two weeks ago, was sixth in the second Red Bull as his team-mate
Verstappen, who had been fastest throughout practice, continued to
deliver a perfect riposte to his critics.
Having threatened to
"head-butt" someone on Thursday after getting irritated by persistent
questions about his many crashes this year, Verstappen was satisfied
with his qualifying run.
"I am happy with this weekend so far. The
car is working well and we're just missing out on top speed. I think we
can do a good job."
Mercedes, who chose not to introduce their
new upgraded power units in Montreal and struggled to extract the best
from the 'hyper-soft' tyre, saw Hamilton struggle to find the form that
has enabled him to dominate in the past.
Hamilton, who leads
Vettel by 14 points in the standings, was seeking to equal Schumacher's
record of seven wins in Canada this weekend, but his run of supremacy -
three straight wins at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve - looks likely to
end on Sunday.
"It's just been a difficult day," he said after unexpectedly being out-qualified by team-mate Bottas.
Finn added: "It's always annoying when it's so close and we're not
ahead - but starting on the front row is good for this race."
dry and sunlit day, there was immediate drama when Frenchman Romain
Grosjean pulled up in the pit-lane with clouds of smoke billowing from
his Haas car's Ferrari engine.
Once the main teams emerged, Vettel
was soon quickest for Ferrari before swapping fastest laps with
Raikkonen as the Mercedes men struggled to keep pace.
Q1 on top ahead of the Finn with Hamilton third, but it was tense for
McLaren as twice former champion Fernando Alonso squeezed into Q2 at the
end in 14th place ahead of team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne.
session began with both Ferrari and Mercedes on 'ultra-soft' tyres
before Red Bull, on 'hypers' took top spot through Verstappen.
It was clearly a strategic scrap as the teams were aiming to use the tyres in Q2 that would suit them best to start the race.
clocked banker laps, they switched to 'hyper-softs' on which Vettel was
slowed by heavy traffic as Ricciardo topped Verstappen with a new track
record lap of 1:11.434.
Mercedes were first out in Q3 and smashed the records, Bottas topping Hamilton in 1:10.857 before Vettel beat that.