World Championship leader Sebastian Vettel has comfortably beaten last year’s pole time at the Montreal circuit in Canada, thanks to a time of 1m13.014s on the PZero Red supersoft tyres in Q3. The Red Bull Racing driver claimed his sixth pole position of the year.
Vettel saved his biggest effort for the final session, eclipsing last year’s pole position time of 1m15.105s by more than two seconds. Vettel’s time was only eight-tenths of a second off the all-time circuit qualifying record, which dates back to 2004 (Ralf Schumacher, 1m12.275s).
It was also a very successful qualifying for Ferrari today, with Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa lining up in second and third respectively, closely behind Vettel. Alonso will start from the front row for the first time in 2011.
Qualifying in Canada was dominated by the weather, as plunging temperatures and overcast skies suggested that rain could fall at any moment. In order to counteract this risk, teams concentrated on setting their fastest times as soon as they could.
This meant that the emphasis was on the PZero Red supersoft tyre, which as expected proved to be around a second per lap faster than the PZero Yellow soft tyre. In the end the session remained dry, although the ambient temperature dipped to 21 degrees; making it harder for the drivers to get the tyres up to temperature.
Pirelli’s former test driver Pedro de la Rosa, who was called up to drive at 10 minute’s notice yesterday after Sauber driver Sergio Perez felt unwell, had a very solid run. The Spaniard will line up 17th on the grid for tomorrow’s race: his first since the 2010 Italian Grand Prix.
Earlier this morning the final free practice session was initially dominated by Mercedes and Ferrari before Vettel put in a time of 1m13.381s at the end of the session, which was held in warm conditions.
Tomorrow’s race, which takes in 70 laps, has a 60% chance of rain: a high percentage that has influenced a number of car set-ups today.
Pirelli’s Motorsport Director Paul Hembery said: “There were a number of tactical choices for the teams to make today and the weather certainly kept everyone guessing. This obliged the teams to run the supersoft tyres maybe earlier than they would have done normally, and this is sure to affect race strategy as well tomorrow. Ferrari have shown themselves to be consistently quick all weekend so far, and we’ve seen in the past just how strong their race pace is. With a high chance of rain as well, we are all set for a very exciting and unpredictable race tomorrow.”
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