• Canadian Grand Prix - Qualifying

Vettel takes pole ahead of improved Ferraris

ESPNF1 Staff
June 11, 2011

Sebastian Vettel snatched his sixth pole position of the season during qualifying for the Canadian Grand Prix, but faced stiff competition from the Ferraris with Fernando Alonso less than 0.2 seconds off the Red Bull - the closest he has been all season.

Vettel's lap was the fastest this weekend and close to perfection as he picked a smooth line through each of Montreal's four taxing chicanes, on what Christian Horner described as "one of our weakest circuits". Alonso wrestled every last tenth out of his car in response and just pipped his team-mate Felipe Massa to second as Ferrari continued to build on its impressive performance in Monaco.

The second Red Bull of Mark Webber was fourth fastest, but had to cope without his KERS power boost system which undoubtedly cost him several tenths of a second. He also went into qualifying with one hand tied behind his back having missed all of the final practice session as the team tried to remedy the KERS problem. Horner said the team would try to fix the problem overnight, which should be possible within the parc ferme regulations.

Lewis Hamilton will start fifth after McLaren failed to deliver on the promise it has shown at recent races. Team boss Martin Whitmarsh said before the session that the cars were set up for a wet race, meaning Hamilton and Jenson Button may have been running a fraction more wing angle. But it's a high-risk strategy as rain is by no means guaranteed on Sunday and straight-line speed is all-important around Montreal.

The setup gamble may have also accounted for Mercedes' Nico Rosberg beating the second McLaren of Jenson Button to sixth. Rosberg has been quick all weekend and finished within 0.9 seconds of Vettel, which his smallest margin to pole since he qualified third at the Turkish Grand Prix.

Michael Schumacher gave it his all over the kerbs at the final chicane to snatch eighth position ahead of the two Renaults and was just 0.050 off his team-mate at the end of the session. The Renaults were over a second off Vettel and separated by just 0.023 with Nick Heidfeld ninth ahead of Vitaly Petrov.

The usual suspects were knocked in Q2, despite some good efforts from Paul di Resta, Pastor Maldonado and Kamui Kobayashi to break into the top ten. Those three will line up 11th, 12th and 13th on the grid ahead of Adrian Sutil, Sebastien Buemi, Rubens Barrichello and Pedro de la Rosa, who is standing in for Sergio Perez this weekend.

Jaime Alguersuari got knocked out in the first session of qualifying and was just 0.5 seconds faster than the quickest Lotus driven by Jarno Trulli. Tonio Liuzzi put in a strong performance to lead the battle between the Virgin and HRT drivers. Jerome d'Ambrosio was slowest of all and his best time was outside of 107% of Alonso's best FP1 time, meaning he might not be allowed to start the race on Sunday.