F1: LEWIS HAMILTON STORMS TO POLE
By Andrew Benson
Lewis Hamilton broke Red Bull's domination of qualifying this year to beat Red Bull's Mark Webber to pole position in a thrilling session in Canada.
The McLaren driver snatched pole from Webber with the very final lap of the day as Red Bull's run of seven consecutive poles this season came to an end.
Webber's team-mate Sebastian Vettel was third fastest ahead of the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso.
McLaren's Jenson Button was fifth from Force India's Vitantonio Liuzzi.
Ferrari's Felipe Massa, Renault's Robert Kubica, Force India's Adrian Sutil and the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg rounded out the top 10.
Canadian GP qualifying – Top three drivers
“Its fantastic for the team. It's the result of continued hard work from the guys. I saw the second to last lap Mark had gone ahead,” said Hamilton.
“I was so fortunate the guys came on the radio and said I had chance to get another lap in, it's great to finally strip these guys. It's a great result and I'm very happy.
“I did a good lap. I don't know where I found that time.”
The grid sets up a potentially fascinating race as Red Bull chose to qualify on a different type of tyre from their rivals at the front.
“It is a very good day for me, I'm very happy,” said Webber. “It was a good fight for the front row. Lewis did a very good lap for pole, albeit on a different compound. To be on the front row with a tyre I think is going to be a little more stable for us is good.
Hamilton happy with car during qualifying.
“No one knows what the track will do in the race. We might have done the right thing we might have done the wrong thing. We'll see tomorrow.”
Red Bull – along with Kubica – chose to qualify on the harder of the two tyre options, and the rules dictate they must start the race on the tyre on which they set their grid time.
That could give them an advantage in the early laps as the softer tyre has been losing grip rapidly through the weekend on the slippery track surface here.
Interestingly, though, Alonso did only one run in qualifying, using the softer tyres, and managed four consecutive quick laps, so that tyre might not be as bad as some expect.
“We have been a little bit slower in terms of the warm up of the tyres all weekend,” said the Spanish double world champion. “It seems we need more laps to get the performance out of it. But maybe this plays a good part for us and we can be very consistent in the race. But no-one knows.
Strategy key for race – Webber
“The track is completely different now compared to Friday – we are running in the 1m15s and on Friday we were in the 1m18s. Tomorrow, with the track evolution and the rubber that we have in the corners maybe the tyre will have much better degradation than we expected and we have less problems than we did on Friday.
“It was a possibility (to go on the prime). For us, both tyres were working well. But in terms of race strategy, the option in qualifying we think gave us a few more possibilities so the team decided to run with the option. It was a difficult call.”
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh said he felt the fastest race strategy was to do a short first stint on the softer tyre and then switch to the harder one for the rest of the race.
Fernando Alonso claims Ferrari soft tyres not in good shape.
As Button said, although the harder tyre is the faster race tyre, starting on it might not be the fastest race strategy if the Red Bulls get held up behind Hamilton, whose car is very fast on the straights.
And Hamilton's decision to opt for the soft tyre was made even more interesting because he was actually faster than the Red Bulls with the harder tyre in the second qualifying session.
Nevertheless, he denied that McLaren had taken a gamble, adding: “It's a great day for me. We wanted to get as close to the front as we could. We know the option tyre is not the best but you might see a different type of race here.
“There is always a chance of a safety car and who knows the track might improve and the option tyre might be the best one.”
Michael Schumacher blames grip for poor qualifying finish in Montreal.
Hamilton set a fastest time of one minute 15.105 seconds to beat Webber by 0.268secs. Vettel was 0.047secs behind his team-mate and Alonso only 0.015secs behind the German as Ferrari bounced back to form after a poor weekend in Turkey two weeks ago.
The Englishman, who won here in Canada in 2007, had to stop on his slowing down lap because there was not enough fuel in his car.
Governing body the FIA require teams to provide a sample of their fuel and McLaren told Hamilton he would run out if he came back to the pits.
McLaren were fined $10,000 (£6,870) and issued with a reprimand for the incident.
The punishment was because McLaren's actions had potentially given Hamilton a small advantage as his car was lighter – and therefore slightly faster – than it should have been when he set his pole position lap.
He had only been given enough fuel for one flying lap, but the team said he could go for another because he made a mistake on his first lap and failed to improve.
Asked for his reaction to the fine, Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn said: “Sounds cheap. Obviously we don't want a situation where cars are running out on the circuit because that is the lightest way to go.”
Whitmarsh said: “There was a memo sent out by the FIA requiring you to get back to the pits in a certain time. [But] we didn't set out to do this. It wasn't Lewis's fault. He could have got back to the garage but then he would have been short for the sample. So we felt that it was a more important requirement to fulfil that regulation than to follow a memo.”
Brawn said his car's relatively poor performance was because they were having trouble heating their tyres evenly on one lap on low fuel loads.
Schumacher said he had been potentially quick enough to get into the top-10 shoot-out but that he had failed to put a consistent lap together because of his problems with the tyres.