Canadian GP - Saturday - Qualifying Session Report
Canada Not Dry
Roaming rain showers kept the track wet throughout Saturday's qualifying session for the Canadian Grand Prix. The track conditions changed constantly over the hour, making it very tricky for the drivers.
When it was over, Sebastian Vettel had won the pole in his Red Bull and Lewis Hamilton was second in his Mercedes. Rookie Valtteri Bottas did a great job to qualify his Williams third.
That ended Mercedes' pole streak in the last four races and gave Vettel his third pole of the season and the 39th of his career.
The ambient air temperature at the start of the session was 60.8 degrees Fahrenheit (16 degrees Celsius), and the track temperature was 62.6 degrees Fahrenheit (17 degrees Celsius.) The humidity was 85 percent.
Toro Rosso teammates Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo were the first on track as the 20 minute Q1 session began.
Some sprinkles of rain had fallen during the lunch break. The racing line on the track was fairly dry but it remained slick off the line. And there were spots of rain and more started to fall as Q1 began. Still, the drivers opted for Pirelli's super soft slick tires. But the track was too slippery and the drivers pitted after a lap for the intermediate rain tires to be fitted to their cars.
Vergne posted the first time: 1:28.204, but Felipe Massa beat that with a 1:28.093 in his Ferrari. Then Nico Rosberg set the mark with a 1:26.781 in his Mercedes.
Jules Bianchi had a spin in his Marussia while a number of other drivers cut the corner at Turn 9.
The Red Bull Boys moved into first and second with Sebastian Vettel setting a 1:26.293 and Mark Webber a 1:26.609 only to have Lewis Hamilton top that with a 1:25.944 in his Mercedes. Vettel then turned a 1:24.788. And Hamilton responded with a 1:24.544.
The track was drying, at least in parts, and the times continued to fall. Rosberg clocked a 1:23.840 but was soon fourth fastest with Webber up front with a 1:23.247. But Vettel (1:22.318) and Alonso (1:23.224) beat that.
Valtteri Bottas (Williams), Massa and Hamilton rounded out the top six. A late rain shower made it difficult for the other drivers to improve their times.
The six drivers eliminated at the end of Q1 were: Paul di Resta (Force India), Charles Pic (Caterham), Romain Grosjean (Lotus), Bianchi, Max Chilton (Marussia) and Guido van der Garde (Caterham.)
Unlike Q1, there was no question what tires needed to be used in the 15 minute Q2 session. Pirelli's intermediates were the way to go on the still wet track.
Vergne led the pack out on to the track.
Massa spun at Turn 3 and continued as Webber set the first fast time: 1:29.672. Hamilton beat that with a 1:29.259. The rain was a lot heavier now than it had been in Q1.
Rosberg, Nico Hulkenberg (Sauber), Pastor Maldonado (Williams) and Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) all missed the chicane at Turn 14. Then Jenson Button (McLaren), Adrian Sutil (Force India), Vettel and Esteban Gutierrez (Sauber) did the same.
Sutil and Hamilton later slid off at Turn 3 but continued.
Meanwhile, Vettel went quickest with a 1:28.166. Webber beat that with a 1:28.145.
The track started to dry and the times got quicker. But Massa, in 15th, spun and slid sideways into the barriers with just two minutes remaining in the session. That brought out the red flag to stop the session with one minute and 59 seconds left.
The six drivers at the bottom of the list at that time were: Maldonado, Button, Ricciardo, Gutierrez, Massa and Sutil.
After a seven minute stoppage, the session was restarted. The drivers should have time for one flying lap.
Fourteen drivers ‚Äö√Ñ√¨ all but Vettel, who went out later, and Massa ‚Äö√Ñ√¨ lined up at pit exit for the race of that one lap. It was wild and wooly out that on that lap, and the six drivers eliminated at the end of Q2 were: Nico Hulkenberg (Sauber), Sergio Perez (McLaren), Maldonado, Button, Gutierrez and Massa.
So the two Toro Rosso drivers made it into the Q3 top 10 shootout while both McLaren drivers were out of the hunt.
Ten minutes, then, to decide the top end of the grid for the Canadian Grand Prix.
First in action was Vettel. All the drivers were on the intermediate tires.
Vettel clocked a 1:25.425 in the drying track. Hamilton was second with a 1:25.512.
The drivers pitted and then pounded around for the final three or four minutes to see what lap times they could achieve.
Alonso had a quick off.
The rain increased in some places and nobody was able to improve even though some sections of the track were drier. Hamilton looked to be on a quick lap right at the end but slid off at Turn 14 and that was that.
So Vettel ended Mercedes' pole streak and Hamilton qualified second. Bottas gridded an outstanding career-high third ahead of Rosberg and Webber. Vergne, Sutil, Raikkonen and Ricciardo rounded out the top 10.