Lewis Hamilton beat his Formula 1 title rival Sebastian Vettel to pole position for the Canadian Grand Prix and equal his hero’s achievement of 65 pole positions.
Ferrari had set the pace in practice, but when it mattered in qualifying Hamilton produced the result. The Mercedes driver lapped below one minute, 12 seconds for the first time this weekend in Q1 and never looked back.
Hamilton was fastest of all in Q2 before setting a new lap record at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve to claim pole in Q3.
Hamilton took provisional pole with a one minute, 11.791 seconds lap on his first run, before Vettel attempted to respond, falling short by just 0.004 seconds thanks to a wild moment coming out of the Turn 6/7 chicane.
Hamilton then lowered his own benchmark with one minute, 11.459 seconds on his second run to seal pole, before Vettel shaved 0.006 seconds off his own best time.
This allowed the Ferrari driver to beat Hamilton’s earlier Q3 best, but still left Vettel 0.336 seconds short of taking the top spot.
Valtteri Bottas was third fastest. He was fractionally quicker than his Mercedes team-mate in Q1 and not far behind in Q2, but was well beaten in Q3, finishing over seven tenths of a second down.
Friday pacesetter Kimi Raikkonen brushed the wall in Q1 and ended up fourth fastest overall for Ferrari, complaining of a “really shit” first corner on his quickest lap.
The Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo claimed row three of the grid, separated by 0.154 seconds, with Verstappen lapping within two tenths of the second.
Felipe Massa was seventh fastest for Williams and the only other driver to lap below one minute, 13 seconds, ahead of Force India pairing Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon, and impressive Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg, who rounded out the top ten.
Neither Toro Rosso driver made it through to Q3, after a messy session that featured a spin for Carlos Sainz at Turn 1 and Daniil Kvyat glancing the wall at Turn 9 and picking up a puncture.
Kvyat wound up P11, 0.284 seconds shy of the cut, while Sainz was P13.
Fernando Alonso split the Toro Rossos by lapping his McLaren-Honda in P12, only 0.003 seconds shy of beating Kvyat and despite initially complaining of having less power available from the engine than he’d enjoyed in Q1.
Romain Grosjean struggled with a lack of grip from his final set of ultra-soft Pirelli tyres, saying they gave him “absolutely nothing” as he wound up P14.
Jolyon Palmer was P15 in the second of the two works Renaults, also complaining of “no grip”. He was within two tenths of team-mate Hulkenberg in Q1, but struggled badly in Q2, including suffering a brief off at Turn 1.
A crash for Pascal Wehrlein’s Sauber at the same corner ended Q1, as it forced several drivers to abandon late efforts to improve.
Having complained about being used by his team-mate ‘unfairly’ for a tow in the second half of the session, Sainz managed to squeak into Q2.
Sainz lapped 0.131 seconds clear of Stoffel Vandoorne’s McLaren-Honda, which was eliminated in Q1 for the sixth time in seven attempts this season.
Lance Stroll also failed to escape the bottom five in qualifying for his home race, the Williams rookie finishing the session 0.027 seconds behind Vandoorne in P17.
Kevin Magnussen complained of encountering traffic “every single lap” as he wound up only P18, less than two tenths clear of Marcus Ericsson’s Sauber.
Wehrlein lapped slowest of all, 0.315 seconds down on Ericsson, and ended up with his Sauber missing its rear wing after he approached Turn 1 on too wide a line and lost the rear of the car under braking.
So a fantastic qualifying result for Lewis Hamilton. The triple champion received a race worn helmet presented by the Ayrton Senna family as a honour for equalling the great driver’s record of 65 pole positions. The emotions from Hamilton said it all.
Qualifying positions, Canadian Grand Prix:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m11.459s
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m11.789s
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m12.177s
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m12.252s
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Renault 1m12.403s
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1m12.557s
7 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1m12.858s
8 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1m13.018s
9 Esteban Ocon Force India-Mercedes 1m13.135s
10 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m13.271s
11 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault 1m13.690s
12 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Honda 1m13.693s
13 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso-Renault 1m13.756s
14 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1m13.839s
15 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1m14.293s
16 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Honda 1m14.182s
17 Lance Stroll Williams-Mercedes 1m14.209s
18 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1m14.318s
19 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 1m14.495s
20 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber-Ferrari 1m14.810s