x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Dominant Sebastian Vettel on pole in Canada

Red Bull Renault driver shows no after-effects following crash.

Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel.
Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel.

Gary Meenaghan

MONTREAL // Sebastian Vettel secured his sixth pole position from seven races ahead of today’s Canadian Grand Prix and said he was “ready to fight” to hold off the fast-improving Ferrari duo of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, who finished in second and third respectively at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

The Red Bull Racing driver has shown almost complete domination during qualifying this season – only in Barcelona has he failed to clock the fastest lap on a Saturday – and despite a shunt during Friday’s opening practice session, he was able to record a lap-time 0.185 seconds quicker than Alonso.

Vettel suffered a crash in Turkish practice last month, but recovered to convert his pole position into a race win. Following yesterday’s scintillating session, he is confident of emulating that feat.

“I need to make sure it doesn’t become a habit of crashing the car on Friday and being on pole on Saturday,” he said. “We are here to drive the car on the limit and mistakes can happen, but it doesn’t feel nice when you come back to the garage without your car.

“The team worked very hard on Friday to get me back out in the afternoon and that was very important for [qualifying]. This place you need to get into rhythm because to squeeze everything out of your car, it is important to have a couple of laps to find that rhythm.”

The street circuit in Montreal, a tight track and low grip levels, does not traditionally suit the Red Bull set-up, but Vettel said the England-based team “did our homework” ahead of this weekend.

“This is not necessarily our strongest circuit – we like high-speed corners – but we still put a very strong package together and it seemed to work very well. I think we can be very confident. It won’t be easy, but we have seen in the last two races that we are also ready to fight.”

Ferrari, having endured a miserable start to the season, are looking increasingly more competitive, and at both Barcelona and Monaco, Alonso enjoyed a strong start to overtake a Red Bull. He is unsurprisingly hoping to do similar today.

“This is the best, no doubt,” he said when asked how he rated yesterday’s session. “The car is very competitive and being on the first row of the grid for the first time since Singapore last year is a good feeling. For both Ferraris to be here is a nice team result, but the real job is coming tomorrow. It is the race where the points are given so we need to maximise our performance and score as many points as possible.”

Massa was looking set for a place on the front row until Alonso usurped his teammate on his final flying lap, but the Brazilian driver took only positives from the session.

“It is a very good weekend for the team,” Massa said. “We were competitive yesterday and even when we were on the same tyres as Red Bull – the supersofts – we were also close. That is a good sign for us and also good for me.”

Rain is forecast for today’s race and while such conditions would provide drivers with their first experience of Pirelli’s wet tyres, Vettel said he has come to Canada well prepared. “We have the rain tyres for the car and I have a coat and umbrella for me,” he said. “So we will be fine”.