x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Rosberg back in pole position after edging out Hamilton in Canadian Grand Prix qualifying

Clever driving allows Vettel to take third place and prevent Williams from sweeping second row

Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg, from Germany, drives through the course during a practice session at the Canadian Grand Prix on June 7, 2014. David J. Phillip / AP Photo
Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg, from Germany, drives through the course during a practice session at the Canadian Grand Prix on June 7, 2014. David J. Phillip / AP Photo

Montreal // Nico Rosberg stunned Mercedes-GP teammate Lewis Hamilton on Saturday to snatch pole position for Sunday’s Canadian Grand Prix.

Hamilton had appeared unstoppable in practice, comfortably leading the way, and again in the first two qualifying periods at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

But the Briton was denied a fourth pole in eight attempts at Montreal as championship rival Rosberg pulled a rabbit out of the hat in the top-10 shoot-out to edge Hamilton by 0.079 seconds.

Hamilton’s first flying lap in Q1 saw him make a mistake into Turn 1, but he soon made amends to finish the session a remarkable three-quarters of a second quicker than Rosberg.

By the end of Q2 the deficit between the duo had been cut to four-10ths of a second, yet, come the final blast, Rosberg countered to lead the way by just 0.068 seconds after the first run.

On the second and final hot lap, Hamilton had the edge after the first sector, but a lock-up into Turn 8 in the second sector cost him dearly, leaving Rosberg leading away the field for the second successive race.

Reigning four-time champion Sebastian Vettel was the best of the rest, albeit seven-tenths of a second adrift of Rosberg, such is the gap between Mercedes and Red Bull.

Williams pair Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa, who have looked strong this weekend, will start fourth and fifth ahead of Daniel Ricciardo in his Red Bull.

Pastor Maldonado’s run of bad luck shows no sign of ending as the Venezuelan pulled his Lotus off track towards the end of Q1 and will start 17th.

Marcus Ericsson brought a premature end to Q1, albeit only by 16 seconds, when he lost control of his car at the Turn 8/9 chicane where he smashed into a wall, breaking off the left-rear wheel.

Esteban Gutierrez will start at the back of the grid after failing to take part in qualifying following an earlier crash in final practice in his Sauber.

The Mexican spun 180 degrees through the Turn 3/4 chicane before slamming sideways into a barrier, sustaining chassis damage that was unable to be repaired in time by his team.

Rosberg, who had never started higher than fourth in previous years, knows he struck a psychological blow over Hamilton.

“I know it’s a track where Lewis is really strong, so I am very happy it has worked out,” Rosberg said.

“It has been a fantastic day and through the weekend we have been progressing all the time, and I’m in the best position for tomorrow.”

Hamilton said he knew he had been beaten fair and square on this occasion.

“Nico did a fantastic job, so congratulations to him. My final lap was not particularly bad. It just wasn’t the greatest qualifying. Sometimes you have a good qualifying, sometimes you have bad qualifying,” Hamilton said.

“It’s a great to get a one-two for the team, a fantastic performance. Let’s hope we can make history tomorrow.”

That was a reference to the fact a one-two in the race on Sunday will set a new F1 record of six consecutive one-two finishes.

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