Lewis Hamilton will start Sunday’s Canadian Grand Prix from pole position after edging out Mercedes teammate and Formula 1 championship leader Nico Rosberg in the final stage of qualifying in Montreal.
Mercedes entered qualifying anticipating a challenge for pole from Red Bull and Ferrari after a closely-contested trio of practice sessions.
However, both Hamilton and Rosberg were able to stretch the legs of the W07 Hybrid car to pull clear of the field and secure a front-row lock-out for Mercedes.
Hamilton became the first man to dip under the 1:13 mark with his first run in Q3, setting a time of 1:12.812 to edge out Rosberg by just 0.062 seconds.
Both drivers headed out for a second run, but neither could improve as the checkered flag fell, Rosberg’s hopes of pole dashed by a mistake at the first corner.
This left Hamilton to claim his fifth pole position at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and head up a front-row lock-out for Mercedes in Canada.
Sebastian Vettel led Ferrari’s charge, improving late on to qualify third and just 0.178 seconds off Hamilton at the front, suggesting that the upgrades brought by Ferrari to Canada are indeed working as the team has asserted.
Vettel was followed by Red Bull pair of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, both of whom struggled to replicate their practice pace in the final fight for pole. Vettel’s Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen finished sixth despite completing just a single run in Q3.
Williams was unable to fight with the front there teams once again as Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa qualified seventh and eighth respectively.
McLaren impressed once again as Fernando Alonso made his way into Q3. The Spaniard ended the final session in P10. Teammate Jenson Button fell two-tenths of a second short with his final lap, leaving him to settle for 12th on the grid.
After finishing on the podium in Monaco, Sergio Perez came back down to earth after being eliminated by Force India teammate Nico Hulkenberg in the dying moments of Q2. Hulkenberg ultimately qualified ninth, while Perez had to settle for P11 on the grid.
Daniil Kvyat led Toro Rosso’s charge, qualifying 13th, but teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. was left down in 16th place after crashing out early in the session. Sainz clipped the infamous Wall of Champions with his right-rear wheel when starting a flying lap, causing him to crash and leave his car with heavy damage, warranting a red flag stoppage.
Esteban Gutierrez outqualified Haas teammate Romain Grosjean for the second time this season on Saturday afternoon finishing 14th. Grosjean was left to settle for P15, finishing half a second adrift of a place in Q3.
Renault’s difficult start to the season continued as Jolyon Palmer qualified down in 17th place, but was fortunate to finish the session after two close scrapes with the wall. Teammate Kevin Magnussen took no part in qualifying due to crash damage on his car from FP3, resigning him to a probable start from the pit lane on Sunday.
Pascal Wehrlein looked set to make his way into Q2 for Manor, only for light rain and a yellow flag shown for teammate Rio Haryanto’s crash to deny him a chance to make a late improvement. The German was left to settle for P18, while Haryanto ended the session 21st, the duo split by the Saubers of Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr.