Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor Mattpt55
Ambient 22° Track 44° Humidity 36% Wind 0.6 m/s
FP3 at the magnificent Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve featured a rather rejuvenated looking team Mercedes, with Hamilton rocking up directly behind the Iceman for P3 just 0.6s off Kimi but a rather more hefty 0.354s off Vettel who put in a 1:12.572 to claim top spot. Verstappen rather astonishingly managed to get his Front Wing ahead of Valterri Bottas just 0.039s off Lewis’ pace. Bottas himself was a rather uninspiring 0.245 back of Mad Max and was rather under pressure to keep it ahead of the Dutchman even with the Magic Quali mode that Merc can run.
Astute observers pointed out that Hamilton hadn’t run with his DRS open on the pit-straight so the question of Mercedes’ true pace for Quali remained rather open. Speaking of which, yr humble correspondent has done a bit of dodgy math and by looking at average percentage improvement from FP3 to Quali, Vettel would just have the edge. and by just in this instance. I mean by 0.01s kinda just. If, of course, the numbers hold.
Big talk about Kubica test, and new engines (v. 1.1) for all the Mercedes teams, though supposedly it’s mainly reliability upgrades. Also big was the sudden tough talk from Zak Brown about giving Honda the boot, likely for a return to the Mercedes fold if the accidentally glimpsed meeting on Lewis Hamilton’s social media is any indication. At least it wasn’t telemetry this time… Of course that may impact Alonso’s future plans as he has announced September as the month he will let the world know his plans, oddly the same month that Macca will let Honda know. Fairly certain that’s a coincidence…./sarcasm
Brutally glorious day on the Ile Notre-Dame, sun shining on the floating paradise that hosts the F1 circus every year, dappled water blinking it’s eyes as the pit lane readied for the upcoming struggle…
Green light and they’re off!! Sainz led Kvyat from the off and within the first 90 seconds half the grid was circulating, the usually reticent Ferrari’s amongst them while the Mercedes sat chilling in their garage.
First off first up and it was Sainz early days at the top, but not all that fast. Vettel put up the first fast time and was immediately eclipsed by his teammate with a 1:13.548.
13 minutes and out came the Mercedes, nearly tangling with Ocon who was on some sort of outlap. With the re-retirement of Button it fell to Grosjean’s engineer to confirm that the rest of the field had also complained of low grip that was plaguing the Frenchman.
Down to 11 minutes and Vettel got back to it and surpassed Raikkonen, as Hamilton was on it setting a purple S1. S2 also flashed up purple for Lewis and it was all down to the last, tricky chicane…. Oooohh 0.03s off Vettel and then the sneaky Finn Bottas crushed it while everyone was looking the wrong way, going to the top with a 1:12.864.
8 minutes left and if you’re wondering what happened to Red Bull it was Ricciardo to P4 before the very rapid finish of Verstappen, Perez and Ocon. With the dust settled it was Perez and Ocon ahead of Ricciardo and Verstappen perilously close to Vettel in P4.
6 minutes left and Hamilton had gone faster than Bottas, who had then AGAIN gone faster than Hamilton by a mere 0.007s
5 minutes to go and it was all to play for amongst the backmarkers and midfield, with Vandoorne, Palmer, Wehrlein, Ericsson and Magnussen with it all to do and Stroll on the bubble.
An aggressive drive by Stroll saw absolutely no improvement in position for the William’s rookie. Palmer was the first to strike, up to P14 and dooming the young Canadian to ignominy in front of his home crowd unless there was more time for the youngster to find in his last effort. Sainz was now on the bubble and then suddenly double-waved yellows T1 as Wehrlein touched the grass, spun it off the track into the barrier and dislodged his rear wing, a massive anti-climax as it spoiled a bucketful of last laps. Vandoorne, Stroll, Magnussen, Ericsson and, of course, Wehrlein were done like a dinner. Magnussen done in by traffic will be particularly unhappy with that. Also unhappy was Raikkonen who complained bitterly about not being able to get his front tyres into the window when he wanted them.
Q2 saw Massa first out the gate, again followed by Sainz and Kvyat. Much different though was Hamilton and Bottas, not lolling about like Q1. Ferrari trailed a bit further behind and no one save Alonso was left in the pits by time the clock hit 13 minutes to go.
Kvyat ahead of Sainz immediately both in the 13’s as it looked Hamilton was just starting his effort, still claiming P3 temporarily with his outlap. Perez then Ocon outplinted the TR duo till Massa came along. Hamilton put an end to their fun and not even Bottas could do much about it this time around.
10 minutes to go and Sainz touched the grass and spun off the circuit bringing out some yellows, and Vettel also had a rather lurid slide spoiling his first go round. Many complaints about traffic as Raikkonen split the Mercedes.
7 minutes to go and Kvyat, Sainz, Alonso, Palmer and Grosjean were in the drop zone, desperately looking for an escape. Alonso complained of being down on power from Q1, not what Honda wanted to hear at all.
4 minutes and all the runners save Vettel chose to rock back out and make life difficult for the midfield. Hamilton ran just slower than his first time, Bottas improved a bit but not enough and Raikkonen stayed parked in P3 also no movement.
Palmer made no improvement in his place as Hulkenberg confirmed P10. Puncture for Kvyat put him out and it was nothing doing for the rest as well. No improvement save Alonso to P12 as lurid pictures of Kvyat shredding his suspension with the carcass of his slain tyre dominated the airwaves.
Kvyat, Alonso, Sainz, Grosjean and Palmer were sent to the showers, with the rest turning it around to fight for all the glory. In a TV interview Pascal apologized to his mechanics for all the work he had inflicted on them with his mistake. Helpful hint, a case or two of beer will help things out immensely.
Q3 and Vettel the Hulk and Hamilton were first onto the track. Raikkonen, Bottas and Perez trailed then the lonely Williams of Massa. Ricciardo, Verstappen and Ocon brought up the rear as no one wasted much time getting to the good stuff.
Boom! Lewis laid down the purple in Sector 1 and Sector 2 then crushed it in Sector 3 to go 1:11.791 and well to the top, with Bottas, Raikkonen and Vettel unable to get out of the 1:12’s. A vicious lock up into the hairpin spoiled Vettel’s go round and it was Verstappen and Ricciardo again consigned to a 3rd row start as the last of the laps rolled across the start/finish.
Vettel cranked it into the pits and was out behind Verstappen with more than 5 minutes left in the session. S1 and he was faster than Hamilton. S2 was slower and all eyes were on the
German as he rocked it through S3 to go 0.004s slower than Lewis. Vettel kept on it to get back in and have 1 more bite at the apple.
2:30 to go and a serene Lewis departed the pits with loads of time to get a good lap in. 1:45 and the Ferrari crew got Vettel out setting up a fantastic finish for pole.
Purple S1 for Lewis. Purple S2 for Lewis and catching up to Vettel on his outlap. Purple S3 and bang 1:11.459!! No improvement for Bottas. No improvement for Raikkonen. Big lock up for Vettel at the start of his lap. S2 was rocky as well and into S3 finally he got on it and took away S3 from Lewis, but not pole. Too little, too late as it was but a small improvement for Vettel, the mistake on his first Q3 lap likely cost him big, as he had to rush to try and get his 2nd lap in.
Also possibly costing him was the fact that it looked likely that Ferrari had gone a bit lighter on downforce, as Vettel owned top speed in all 3 sectors. No surprises in the rest of the top 5, with Verstappen ahead of Ricciardo and Bottas ahead of Raikkonen. Massa gave Williams a small ray of hope going P7 and then it was the Force Indias well set up for redemption from Monaco, with Hulkenberg best of the rest.
Fortunately for the tifosi, pole position counts for less at Montreal than at most other circuits, and the layout for T1 means that a good start from P2 can be rewarded quite early on. A high safety car percentage can also open some strategic doors for teams, particularly in the midfield. Montreal kills brakes and cars with no brakes attract the safety car, like vultures circling.
Disappointment writ large for Sainz, who caught 2 yellows in both of his fastest lap efforts. Kvyat got stuck in 1st and thus on cold tyres bounced it off the wall causing his puncture. HAAS too seemed on the back foot for much of the session, with Magnussen trapped by Wehrlein’s crash and Grosjean plagued by brake issues yet again this weekend. Force India and Hulkenberg were the main beneficiaries, rounding out the top 10 and looking savagely effective compared to the competition.
And then there was this, with his pole Lewis tied Ayrton Senna’s record for 2nd most pole positions all time. In a remarkable gesture, his family gave one of Senna’s race helmets to Lewis as recognition of his achievement, a gracious gesture indeed. Lewis seemed genuinely moved as he held it aloft to massive applause from the crowd.
As for tomorrow, that’s when the points are handed out
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