MONTREAL — Formula One leader Lewis Hamilton shrugged off recent troubles to claim pole position for the Canadian Grand Prix on Saturday.
If there were any lingering doubts from a strategic mistake that cost him victory at Monaco two weeks ago or the light collision with a tire barrier after being sent out in the rain during practice on Friday, it didn’t show in a qualifying session dominated by the Mercedes AMG squad.
Hamilton took his sixth pole in seven races this season with a fast lap of one minute 14.393 seconds at the 4.361-kilometre Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, with teammate Nico Rosberg just behind at 1:14.702.
For the fifth time this year, the Mercedes AMGs will start side by side on the front row for the race on Sunday afternoon.
“I don’t think it’s at all a statement,” said Hamilton. “It’s definitely positive to come back into this weekend on the right foot.
“But there are no points for (qualifying). There’s a big race that’s going to be challenging for us all with the tires and everything, but I feel I’m in a good position entering the race.”
Hamilton and Rosberg will start side by side on the front row, just ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas of Williams, who equalled his best qualifying result of the season. Raikkonen placed in the top three for the first time since 2013 in China.
“We made our life much easier by being close to the front,” Raikkonen said. “We’ll have to make a good start and see how it plays out.”
It was a much different story for his Ferrari teammate, former world champion Sebastian Vettel, who had engine trouble and didn’t get past the first 20-minute qualifying session. Vettel, who has started no farther back than fourth this year, will be in 15th position.
Vettel, the only non-Mercedes driver to win this season and the only one close to challenging the Mercedes in driver standings, has not started lower than fourth this year.
“We couldn’t get full power,” said Vettel, the 2013 Canadian GP winner. “We were losing a lot on the straights, which is a shame. I hope we can fix it.”
As for starting near the back, Vettel said: “We’ll see. We have a quick car so we should be able to make up a little ground.”
Felipe Massa’s Williams had the same trouble and will start 16th, so there should be some jostling from the rear at the start as they work their way through slower cars.
Add the 2011 Canadian GP winner Jenson Button, who will start from pit lane as he missed qualifying while his crew worked on his McLaren Honda.
It has been a trying period for Hamilton, who claimed his 44th career pole to sit fourth all-time behind Michael Schumacher (68), Ayrton Senna (65) and Vettel (45).
The mistake in Monaco, when he was wrongly called in for a tire change with the race under a safety car, gave Rosberg the win to move only 10 points back in driver standings.
Rosberg battled tire trouble in qualifying, but is still in position to challenge Hamilton in the race and perhaps take over the series lead.
“I had a bad qualifying but I’m still second on the grid,” the German said. “It gives me hope for (the race).
“Here, it’s possible to overtake. It’s a long and difficult race. It’s still in play.”
Toro Rossi rookie Max Verstappen, already penalized five grid spots for causing a crash at the Monaco Grand Prix, got another 10-spot penalty for having to use his fifth engine of the year. The 17-year-old will start at the back.
Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press