Vettel storms to Canada pole
World Champ brilliantly sees off challenges from Hamilton and Alonso
By James Galloway. Last Updated: 10/06/12 12:02am
Sebastian Vettel has put himself in the perfect place from which to try and become the first two-time winner of the 2012 season after a storming lap saw him claim pole position for the Canadian Grand Prix.
Formula 1's undisputed qualifying king of recent seasons claimed just his second pole of this term after upping his pace spectacularly when it mattered most in Q3 and set two times which would have been good enough for his 32nd career pole.
Friday's pacesetter Lewis Hamilton improved on his own final run but couldn't get within 0.3s of Vettel's brilliant 1:13.784 time and so will start from second, although it was enough to hold off Fernando Alonso who underlined Ferrari's continuing revival with another strong showing. Sky Sports F1's Martin Brundle, however, suggested "Fernando Alonso will be bitterly disappointed at being third", given the Spaniard had looked a big threat for a first Ferrari pole since 2010 throughout.
Monaco winner Mark Webber was a couple of tenths further adrift in fourth ahead of Mercedes' Nico Rosberg and the other Ferrari of Felipe Massa.
Romain Grosjean and Paul di Resta outperformed their respective Lotus and Force India team-mates in Q2 and will share the fourth row on Sunday after outpacing former Canadian winners Michael Schumacher and Jenson Button who both flattered to deceive.
While Schumacher was seen gesticulating from his Mercedes, later explaining to Sky Sports F1 that the team had told him he'd actually run out of time to complete a final lap, McLaren rival Button, having missed the majority of running on Friday, simply didn't seem to have the pace throughout and will again start from a double-figured grid position in 10th.
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The fact the McLaren driver lapped over a second slower than Hamilton alone in the final reckoning can partly be explained by the fact the 2009 World Champion didn't have any new sets of the supersofts to use in Q3, yet that tyre useage in itself says all you need to know about Button's continuing qualifying struggles.
Indeed the winner of last year's Montreal event had only just avoided a third consecutive Q2 exit by the skin of his teeth - eight thousandths of a second to be precise - thanks to the latest chapter in the Jekyll and Hyde season that belongs to Williams' Pastor Maldonado.
The Spanish GP victor was fighting to ensure his own place in the pole shootout but got out of shape over the final chicane and smacked his right-rear tyre against the infamous Wall of Champions, consigning him to a miserable 17th on the grid.
Kobayashi was the man who came within an ace of outpacing Button and will therefore start with a free tyre choice in 11th, ahead of Kimi Raikkonen who was again outperformed by Grosjean over a single lap at Lotus.
The same applied to Nico Hulkenberg in his intra-Force India duel with di Resta and Daniel Ricciardo who conclusively got the better of Toro Rosso sparring partner Jean-Eric Vergne, who endured a miserable Q1 on the back of a final practice crash.
The rookie Frenchman's clear difficulties getting to grips with Formula 1's intense qualifying format continued as he again proved the odd man out from one of the grid's established team and joined the Caterhams, Marussias and HRTs below the cut line.
But not only was Vergne some over a second slower than team-mate Ricciardo, this time he was also outqualified by the two Caterhams of Heikki Kovalainen and Vitaly Petrov, with even the HRT of Pedro de la Rosa getting within a second of him as the veteran Spaniard performed well to outpace the Marussias.
Martin Brundle said of Vergne's ongoing single-lap struggles: "He doesn't look at one with the car. He is overdriving the car. He is making too many errors. It looks as if there is a bit of stress and tension going on, the wheel is turning too fast. He hasn't found the groove of the race track.
"There were too many errors on that lap, he attacked the last chicane too hard and every time you are correcting that car you are going sideways and not forwards and the stopwatch will reveal all."