Canadian GP - Saturday - Qualifying Session Report
Vettel takes Montreal pole
If the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is not supposed to be ideally suited to Red Bull, nobody has told Sebastian Vettel, the world champion taking a 21st career pole and the sixth in seven 2011 races in Montreal.
Vettel (1:13.014) saw off a stern challenge from the Ferraris of Fernando Alonso (1:13.199) and Felipe Massa (1:13.217).
"We've made up some ground from last year here, when we sacrificed qualifying with a different strategy and I feel comfortable," Vettel said. "It was a tough start yesterday morning when I hit the wall but we've done a good job and made a strong recovery. I need to make sure crashing the car on a Friday doesn't become a habit! It's a tricky track with the kerbs and chicanes and the heavy braking down from high speed. We were able to use the first timed lap of the tyres and I'm very happy but the main task comes tomorrow.
"We are expecting to see some rain in the race but it's a question of when and how much. Our long runs looked promising, I think the pace is there in the car and although it won't be easy, we are ready to fight."
Alonso is also feeling confident and hopeful that a first win of the season could come Ferrari's way at a circuit with no high speed corners which penalise lack of aerodynamic performance, the car's current weakness.
"It's the best qualifying result of the year for the team and better than we expected," the Spaniard said, "The whole weekend has been smooth but we are expecting different conditions tomorrow and hopefully we can have a strong race and challenge for the win."
Felipe Massa has looked more like his old self in Montreal, quickest of all in Q2 and only pipped by Alonso on the final lap of Q3, by two hundredths of a second.
"It's a very good weekend up to now," Massa said. "We were competitive yesterday, this morning and in qualifying and when we were on the same tyres as Red Bull we were looking comparable. The grip is better and although the weather will probably be different tomorrow it is always good to be up front."
Mark Webber (1:13.429) lines up fourth in the second RB7, four tenths down on his team mate after missing the entire morning session due to a KERS battery problem. Again the Australian didn't have the use of KERS in qualifying, so his performance is a strong one.
Lewis Hamilton has started the three previous Canadian GPs from the pole but, this time, the McLaren did not seem to have the qualifying pace of either Red Bull or Ferrari. Hamilton (1:13.565) will start the race fifth on the grid, a quarter of a second clear of Nico Rosberg's Mercedes (1:13.814), but neither of the MP4-25s can be ruled out in race trim, especially if it is wet.
Michael Schumacher (1:13.865), six times a Canadian GP winner, was just 0.05s slower with the second of Ross Brawn's cars but it was a big enough margin for the pair to be split by Jenson Button (1:13.838) in the second McLaren.
The Renaults were closely matched too, with Nick Heidfeld (1:14.062) pipping Vitaly Petrov (1:14.085) to ninth place.
Paul Di Resta qualified the first Force India 11th (1:14.752) and then just over half a second covered the midfield runners from Pastor Maldonado's 12th place Williams (1:15.043) to Pedro de la Rosa's 17th placed Sauber (1:15.587).
The Spaniard was perhaps the unsung hero of qualifying, having stepped in for the unwell Sergio Perez at 10 minutes notice before FP2 yesterday. Not having driven this year, De la Rosa (1:15.285) survived a brush with the Turn 7 wall in Q1 to put the car through into Q2 and then manage a lap just three tenths adrift of team mate Kamui Kobayashi.