It was Red Bull’s turn to take the pole position back from Mercedes as Sebastian Vettel emerged fastest of them all in a wet qualifying session for the Canadian Grand Prix at the circuit Gilles de Villeneuve in Montreal. Try as he might, Lewis Hamilton could only manage P2 ahead of the surprise entry of the session – the Williams of Valtteri Bottas in P3.
Nico Rosberg will start in fourth ahead of Mark Webber in fifth, Fernando Alonso in sixth and Jean Eric-Vergne in seventh. Adrian Sutil managed eighth fastest in what was Force India’s 100th grand prix, ahead of Kimi Raikkonen in ninth and Daniel Ricciardo in tenth. Both the the McLarens didn’t make it to Q3 with Perez only 12th fastest and Jenson Button 14th fastest. Felipe Massa suffered his third crash in as many weeks and will start from sixteenth on the grid.
It was a damp day at Montreal with the intermittent light showers affecting whole of the qualifying sessions after the earlier practice sessions were largely dry. Intermediate tyres were the norm up and down the field and most of the teams struggled with maintaining temperatures in their tyres long enough to eke out consecutive fastest laps. Q1 started dry enough for slick tyres but with just the one lap around the circuit, the drivers realised it was still too slippery for slicks and switched to intermediates. Force India’s Paul Di Resta was the biggest casualty of the session as a late switch to fresh intermediate tyres couldn’t help him sneak into the top sixteen. Lotus’ Romain Grosjean was another one to miss out but will nevertheless drop to the back of the grid after his ten-place penalty from Monaco.
Q2 remained wet enough for intermediates and the session saw Massa overcommit himself and crash into the barriers, bringing out the red flag with just over a minute remaining in the session. The restart was a frantic affair as most of the drivers tried to beat the clock and set one last flying lap but to no avail. Button fell too much behind the pack and thus missed crossing the start-finish line just as the chequered flag fell. He was joined by his teammate Perez, Massa, Hulkenberg, Maldonado & Gutierrez in missing Q3.
Vettel set the best time in the initial laps of Q3 and though most of the drivers expectedly pit for a fresher set of intermediate tyres, continued drizzle on some parts of the track meant that the drivers lacked the crucial tyre grip needed to improve their times. Vettel, Hamilton & Bottas having set their times in the earlier part of the session, held on to their top three positions.