Nico Rosberg will start the Canadian Grand Prix from the front of the grid after he narrowly beat team-mate Lewis Hamilton in qualifying at the Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
Hamilton had been expected to excel at a track where he been on pole and won three times, but in the final runs in Q3 at the island track, Rosberg found an extra injection of pace and managed to edge ahead of Hamilton by just seven hundredths of a second.
Third on the grid tomorrow will be Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel. Williams has looked set to claim a top three start as Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas jockeyed for the position, but in the end it was Vettel who snuck through to take the position, the Red Bull driver putting in a superb second sector to brush past Bottas, who will join Vettel on row two at the start.
Before the start of Q1, Esteban Gutierrez was ruled out of the session. The Sauber driver had crashed into the barriers in the morning’s final practice session, losing control in turn three and the damage sustained was bad enough to warrant a change of chassis.
Caterham’s Kamui Kobayashi was also in trouble before the start of the session. The Japanese driver had stopped his CT05 late in FP3 and was later forced into a gearbox change. The switch means he’ll take a five-place grid penalty for the race start.
Unsurprisingly, it was Mercedes that set the pace in Q1, on soft tyres. Hamilton had a narrow advantage over Rosberg throughout the opening exchanges, but then the Briton fired in a lap of 1:15.750 to move seven tenths clear of the German.
Behind them everybody was switching to the supersoft Pirellis, with only the two Mercedes, the Williams cars and the Red Bulls staying on the soft rubber until the end of the session. The Red Bulls dropped back quickly and Vettel looked to be at risk in P13. He didn’t have to worry, however, as moments later Marcus Ericsson lost control of his Caterham and clattered into the wall at turn nine. The incident brought out the red flags with 16 seconds left on the clock.
It meant that out went Pastor Maldonado, who had steered his Lotus off track and out of the session shortly before the Ericsson incident. Also out were Max Chilton in P18, followed by team-mate Jules Bianchi, Kobayashi, Ericsson and the non-starting Gutierrez.
At the top Hamilton claimed P1, seven tenths clear of Kevin Magnussen who had snuck into P2 on his supersoft tyres. Rosberg was third ahead of Jenson Button, Felipe Massa, Valtteri Bottas and Nico Hulkenberg.
Daniil Kvyat was the fastest non-Mercedes-powered driver, the Russsian taking eighth place ahead of the Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen.
In Q2, the Mercedes drivers bolted on supersofts but initially failed to make a significant step forward and as the session approached the final runs it was Massa at the top of the timesheet with a lap of 1:15.773, a tenth ahead of Rosberg in P2 and 1500ths ahead of Hamilton in P3.
In the final runs, however, the Mercedes duo finally stretched their legs and Hamilton threw in a final lap of 1m15.054 to take top spot, two tenths clear of Rosberg. Massa held on to third with the lap that had seen him hold top spot earlier.
Bottas confirmed Williams’ competitiveness with fourth place ahead of Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo. Sebastian Vettel jumped from P13 to P6 with his final run, the champion setting the fastest final sector of all to claim his spot in the top-10 shootout.
Alonso finished seventh ahead of Button, with Raikkonen ninth. The final Q3 berth went to the impressive Jean-Eric Vergne whose final lap was good enough to dump Hulkenberg out of the final segment.
And so, once again, Q3 came down to a battle between the Mercedes drivers. After the first runs of the final 12-minute segment, it was Rosberg who held sway, the German putting in a lap of 1:14.946 to head Hamilton by five hundredths of a second. Behind them Bottas moved ahead of team-mate Massa to claim P3, half a second back from Rosberg. Ricciardo was fifth, two tenths ahead of Vettel.
And after the tense final runs it was Rosberg who emerged victorious, his benchmark of 1:14.874 eclipsing Hamilton seven hundredths of a second.
With Vettel and Bottas finishing fourth ahead of Massa, sixth place went to Daniel Ricciardo in the second Red Bull. It’s the first time since Bahrain that he will start behind Vettel. Fernando Alonso will start seventh, ahead of the excellent Vergne who beat out Button and Raikkonen to claim eighth place. (Source: FIA)