2011 Canadian Grand Prix (Rd 7, Qualifying, June 11th)

© Creative Commons / Will Pittenger

Sebastian Vettel collected yet another pole position ahead of today’s Canadian Grand Prix.

The Red Bull pilot set the quickest lap (1:13.014) during his first run in the final stint of qualifying, leaving him with a two-tenths advantage over the Ferrari pairing of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa.
This pole on a supposedly weak circuit for Red Bull, does not bode very well for the rest of the field. Vettel was happy, but still cautious:

“We’ve made up some ground from last year when we committed to a different strategy and sacrificed qualifying, but this year I feel comfortable. It’s a tricky track to understand, with the kerbs and the chicanes, coming from high speeds with hard braking, but we had a smooth qualifying session today and two very good runs. The conditions are likely to change and I’m sure we’ll see some rain – the question is when and how much.”

With the threat of the Scuderia looming large, Vettel set off on a second run in Q3, only to fall short of his previous best. Opting for longer runs, both Alonso and Massa improved, but not by enough to topple the poleman. A relieved Alonso revealed:

“On a track like this, where aerodynamic downforce is not as important as elsewhere, our deficiencies are a bit masked but it’s equally true that the updates we brought here worked as we had expected and that’s important for the rest of the championship, because we want to be fighting for the top places. We will try to put the Red Bulls under pressure, right from the start, but we know McLaren will also be very strong, especially as their rear wing is possibly better adapted to the conditions in the case of a wet track.”

Mark Webber secured 4th on the grid in the other Red Bull, albeit an RB7 handicapped by a malfunctioning KERS.

Both McLaren’s of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button set their MP4-26’s up with high drag rear wing settings – it would prove to be costly as the silver and red machines lined up 5th and 7th respectively.

“I hope our race pace will prove to be stronger tomorrow than our qualifying pace was today: we’re losing a couple of tenths along the back straight, which hurt us in qualifying. We’ve got a long seventh gear – a bit too long for qualifying perhaps – but that should be good for overtaking and will be a help when I’m slipstreaming as it means I won’t be on the limiter.”

Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) split the McLaren’s, with teammate Michael Schumacher setting the 8th quickest lap. Both Renault’s filled out the fifth row, with Nick Heidfeld pipping Vitaly Petrov.

Paul di Resta once again out-qualified his Force India teammate, Adrian Sutil. The Scot took 11th as he missed out on Q3, yet still boasted a half-second advantage over the German.
Alongside di Resta will be Pastor Maldonado. The Williams rookie secured 12th on the grid, four spots ahead of veteran teammate Rubens Barrichello.
Both Sauber’s made it through to Q2, with Kamui Kobayashi (13th) coming away three-tenths quicker than substitute Pedro de la Rosa (17th). Indeed de la Rosa was lucky to make it as far as he did – the Spaniard smacked the wall exiting turn 4 in the first session, but escaped with no damage.
Sebastien Buemi (Toro Rosso) also fell out in second qualifying, taking 15th place.

Buemi’s under-pressure teammate, Jaime Alguersuari didn’t even make it out of first qualifying. The Spaniard sat on the bubble just prior to end of the session, before been consigned to 18th place.
The Lotus pair followed headed by Jarno Trulli. Hispania’s latest updates lifted Vitantonio Liuzzi to 21st ahead of Virgin’s Timo Glock (22nd) and Narain Karthikeyan (23rd, Hispania).
Jerome d’Ambrosio set the slowest time at the tail end of the session. The Belgian fell shy of the 107% rule, but will still race thanks to solid pace set in Friday practice.

Pos Driver Team Time Gap 
 1.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault     1m13.014s
 2.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari              1m13.199s  + 0.185
 3.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari              1m13.217s  + 0.203
 4.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault     1m13.429s  + 0.415
 5.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes     1m13.565s  + 0.551
 6.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes             1m13.814s  + 0.800
 7.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes     1m13.838s  + 0.824
 8.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes             1m13.864s  + 0.850
 9.  Nick Heidfeld         Renault              1m14.062s  + 1.048
10.  Vitaly Petrov         Renault              1m14.085s  + 1.071
Q3 cut-off time: 1m14.467s Gap **
11.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes 1m14.752s  + 1.321
12.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Cosworth    1m15.043s  + 1.612
13.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari       1m15.285s  + 1.854
14.  Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes 1m15.287s  + 1.856
15.  Sebastien Buemi       Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m15.334s  + 1.903
16.  Rubens Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth    1m15.361s  + 1.930
17.  Pedro de la Rosa      Sauber-Ferrari       1m15.587s  + 2.156
Q3 cut-off time: 1m16.229s Gap *
18.  Jaime Alguersuari     Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m16.294s  + 2.472
19.  Jarno Trulli          Lotus-Renault        1m16.745s  + 2.923
20.  Heikki Kovalainen     Lotus-Renault        1m16.786s  + 2.964
21.  Tonio Liuzzi          HRT-Cosworth         1m18.424s  + 4.602
22.  Timo Glock            Virgin-Cosworth      1m18.537s  + 4.715
23.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth         1m18.574s  + 4.752
24.  Jerome D'Ambrosio     Virgin-Cosworth      1m19.414s  + 5.592
107% time: 1m18.989
* Gap to quickest in Q1
** Gap to quickest in Q2

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