Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

sunnuntai 10. kesäkuuta 2018

Canadian GP / Qualifying: Fourth pole of the season for imperious Vettel!

Round 7 brought the F1 circus from Europe to the track of Ile Notre-Dame, Canada. The start of the qualifying was dramatic for Haas' Grosjean, whose car started to billow smoke as soon as the Frenchman left his garage. The power unit failure meant a premature end for the unfortunate Grosjean's qualifying session. Both Ferrari aces showed top form right away. Kimi and Sebastian set fastest lap times alternately, whilst Hamilton decided to abandon his first flyer due to a lock-up. Verstappen, who had led all three of the weekend's free practice sessions, put in a strong lap to go third in his Red Bull. However, the third sector seemed to be quite challenging for Red Bull. For all teams it was difficult to get the pink-walled hyper-softs up in the right temperature, so the session saw several time-laps on the same set of tyres. There was a close call for Sauber's Ericsson, who damaged his suspension after clouting the wall at the exit of Turn 9 and nearly ran into Red Bull's Verstappen, who was on a cool-down lap. Sebastian and Kimi were the fastest men of the first session, separated by 15 thousandths of a second only. Hamilton made it third, 0.125s off Sebastian's pace. The most positive surprises of the first session were Toro Rosso's Hartley, who made it as high as P8 and Sauber's Leclerc, who made it 13th. Both of their teammates were out of Q2, in addition to the Williams duo of Stroll and Sirotkin.

In Q2 the question was, which teams could set their fastest lap times on the purple-marked ultra-soft compound. Both Mercedes and Ferrari sent their drivers out on the middle compound. Bottas went fastest, with Sebastian only a hundredth and Kimi a tenth off the Finn. Meanwhile, the Red Bull aces Verstappen and Ricciardo opted for the hyper-softs. Verstappen put in a staggering lap and went fastest. Both Mercedes and Ferrari came out on the hyper-softs at the end of the session, but none of the four drivers improved his lap time. In the dying moments of the second session, Ricciardo went fastest, edging his teammate Verstappen by 0.038s. It was extremely tight between the top four, as Ricciardo, Verstappen, Sebastian and Kimi were all within nine hundredths of a second! Haas' Magnussen was the first driver to miss out on Q3, alongside with Toro Rosso's Hartley, Sauber's Leclerc and the McLaren duo of Alonso and Vandoorne.

In the decisive last segment everyone came out on the pink-marked softest compound. Although Red Bull's Verstappen had shone in all free practice sessions, this time it was Sebastian's time to shine. The imperious German took provisional pole by 0.081s to Mercedes' Bottas, who was the faster Silver Arrow this time. Kimi was third and Hamilton fourth, having locked up his tyres again. The Red Bulls were struggling in the last sector; Verstappen was fourth and teammate Ricciardo sixth after their first runs. Kimi made a costly mistake on his second run; the Iceman took to the grass at Turn 2, preventing him from improving on his fifth-placed time. Hamilton jumped third on his second run, only to be pipped by the storming Red Bull ace Verstappen, who stole the 3rd place from the Briton. Sebastian managed to improve his lap time by 0.012s, and the determined German conquered pole for the fourth time this season! Bottas completed the front row, being only 0.093s off the pole-setter Sebastian. I was very happy for Max, who had finally managed to drive a mistake-free weekend after the terrible start to the season. Hamilton, who many had tipped as favourite for pole, had to content himself with fourth. Due to the mistake of his own, Kimi was fifth. Red Bull's Ricciardo completed the third row. The rows four and five will both be pink and yellow; Hulkenberg qualified 7th and Sainz 9th for Renault, whilst Ocon made it 8th and Perez 10th for Force India.

In Montreal a front row grid slot doesn't play as major a role as on some other tracks. In spite of this statistic detail, I really hope, that Sebastian will convert his imperious pole into a glorious victory today! The start will certainly be thrilling, as Max will start to the race on the softest compound, whilst the front row starters Sebastian and Bottas will be on the more durable rubber. I really hope that Max has learned from his mistakes and that he won't try anything stupid, going into Turn 1 and 2... The race pace of the top three teams is predicted to be very evenly matched, so I'm anticipating a hair-raising fight for the victory. Will the Wall of Champions demand casualties this year? And whose strategy will work the best? The action gets underway in about five hours. Keeping my thumbs up for my red-suited heroes! (And Max, who would definitely deserve some success after such a difficult and negative-coloured start to the season!) Forza Ferrari!

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