Lewis Hamilton narrowly edged out Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel and will start from pole in the Grand Prix du Canada.
Hamilton had dominated most of the practice sessions and continued his strong pace throughout qualifying.
But the closing stages of Q3 delivered a tight contest with the world champion only beating Rosberg by 0.062 seconds and Ferrari’s Vettel by 0.116 seconds.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo took fourth spot ahead of team-mate Max Verstappen by 0.248 seconds.
You Just Have to Be Ahead
Hamilton would have entered qualifying determined to start from the front – particularly with rain expected on race day.
After all, the Britain only secured his first win of the season at his last outing in Monaco but still remains 24 points behind Rosberg.
Hamilton managed to secure what he set out to achieve but the pole wasn’t entirely assured with a nervous venture onto the Turn 14 yellow curbs in Q3 – the same curbs that damaged his car in the third free practice.
“It doesn’t matter how far you are ahead, so long as you are ahead,” noted Hamilton afterwards.
“It’s great to see how close we all were. It’s going to be interesting tomorrow.”
“Today wasn’t a great day in terms of pure speed.”
“In practice I had a much bigger gap, but today I just didn’t have the same pace.”
“Obviously I got pole which I am really happy about, but I had more speed in me and I wasn’t able to extract it from the car. There was definitely more time in it – so I’m really happy considering.”
Ferrari Closing The Gap
After a series of poor qualifying performances and unremarkable races, the Scuderia needed to deliver in qualify after fitting major turbo upgrades to their cars.
In the end, less than two-tenth separated Vettel from Hamilton despite the German brushing the dangerous wall of champions.
“If you throw everything into a lap these things happen. It is always a question of how you come out again of such a situation,” said Vettel.
And he appears more confident than in recent times following the upgrades.
“It delivered the expected – not only for today. We also expect a bit of extra boost in the race. But let’s wait and see.”
McLaren Make it Into Q3 Again
Fernando Alonso pushed McLaren into Q3 for the third qualifying in a row renewing optimism that that solid progress is being made with the MP4-31.
While Jenson Button could only manage 12th, he did assist Alonso’s efforts to get into Q3 and claim 9th place.
“I took a good tow in the last run and that was enough to go into Q3,” Alonso commented after qualifying. “So thanks to him!”
Alonso also reflected on the progress being made by McLaren.
“Today in qualifying we have been ahead of one of the Force India’s, which a couple of months ago was difficult to imagine.”
“Also we are only four-tenths behind Ferrari. This is something that gives everyone a boost here at the track and back home in the factory.”
Fast and Challenging
The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is a formidable track with fast straights, heavy braking zones, and the need to manage fuel consumption.
On top of that, it has a bunch of tricky corners – not least the opening Turn 1 and Turn 2 combination and the Turn 14 wall of champions that left an imprint on several cars during qualifying.
With the prospect of rain likely, expect to see plenty of action in Montreal.
The provisional grid is: Hamilton, Rosberg; Vettel, Ricciardo; Verstappen, Raikkonen; Bottas, Massa; Hulkenberg, Alonso; Perez, Button; Gutierrez, Grosjean; Sainz, Kvyat; Palmer, Wehrlein; Nasr, Haryanto; Ericsson, Magnussen.
The race will start at 14:00 local time and will run over 70 laps.