F1 2014 Canadian Grand Prix qualifying: Hamilton battles for pole position in Montreal

Lewis Hamilton in Montreal for the 2014 Canadian Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]

Lewis Hamilton in Montreal for the 2014 Canadian Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz] - Credit: Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton battles for pole position in qualifying for the 2014 Canadian Grand Prix, having gone fastest in second practice in Montreal.

Lewis Hamilton signing autographs for fans in Montreal ahead of the 2014 Canadian Grand Prix [Pictur

Lewis Hamilton signing autographs for fans in Montreal ahead of the 2014 Canadian Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz] - Credit: Mercedes-Benz

The 29-year-old Mercedes AMG Petronas racer from Hertfordshire returned to the top of the timesheets in second practice, after clocking the second best lap of P1 behind Fernando Alonso.

The Ferrari star was quickest in the opening session this morning (Friday).

However, the natural order was restored in second practice around the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve with Mercedes F1 ace Hamilton and Silver Arrows colleague Nico Rosberg once again leading the way.

Hamilton, the 2008 world champion, was quickest in all three sectors as he lapped in 1m 16.118s to set the best lap of the opening day, with Rosberg next best with a time of 1m 16.293s.

Both sessions saw the Silver Arrows separated by less than two-tenths of a second.

The threat of rain in the afternoon resulted in a higher than average quantity of laps being completed in the morning but both Mercedes cars ran trouble-free, allowing the team to focus on set-up work for the weekend ahead.

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Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel was third for Red Bull in second practice ahead of Ferrari drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Alonso.

After practice, Hamilton said: “It felt pretty good out there today but we’ve still got improvements to make and there is more to come from the set-up and balance tomorrow [Saturday].

“This is quite a technical circuit which is all about the kerbs and apexes; you have to have a car that reacts well to the bumps. You’re always trying to find the limit so we’re not quite where we want to be yet.

“The Ferraris looked quite close today [Friday] and the rest of the field seemed closer in general but hopefully not too close!”

Hamilton will be looking to lead the way again when qualifying begins on Saturday, having three times placed his car on pole position around the track.

He said: “It’s very hard to overtake here so pole position is important. Nico looked very quick today as well so I have my work cut out for sure.

“We’ll find out everyone’s pace in qualifying tomorrow afternoon, so let’s wait and see what happens.”

The Stevenage-born race ace is something of an expert around the Montreal track, having qualified at the front of the grid in 2007, 2008 and 2010.

He has also taken the chequered flag three times, in 2007, 2010 and 2012. Hamilton took third place on the podium last year as Vettel won for Red Bull.

The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is one of the purest race tracks on the calendar, and one that invariably produces an unusual and unexpected result.

Aside from the long straights and fast nature of the circuit, power delivery out of the slower turns, the hairpin in particular, is crucial.

Furthermore, as one of the more thirsty tracks on the calendar, this is a circuit where the efficiency formula will come to the fore.

Montreal’s coastal location can throw up all types of weather in June. Last year there was rain in qualifying and sunshine during the race, and the teams should be prepared for anything.

On nailing the perfect lap around the track, Hamilton said: “It’s a circuit where you have to be aggressive, so it’s always suited my style.

“Finding the braking point into the left-hander of Turn One is really important, as you then switch straight back into a very tight right-hander at Turn Two. Running too deep through the first will ruin your line into the second, which will lose you a lot of time.

“You have to be mindful of the kerbs through here as they can throw the car off balance quite easily, while the exit of Turn Two also has very low grip. It’s a tricky section of track to start the lap and one which quite often sees incidents: particularly on the first lap.”

Hamilton continued: “The first of many chicanes around the circuit comes at Turns Three and Four. You have to take plenty of kerb through the corner and then run wide, right up against the wall, on the way out.

“The next chicane at Turns Six and Seven is a bit tighter and slower, but good exit speed is crucial for the straight which comes up afterwards. This leads you down into another chicane at Turns Eight and Nine, where you quite often see overtaking.

“It’s so important to carry good speed once again to give you a good run down into the stadium complex at Turn 10, where you find the biggest crowds of fans during the weekend.

“It’s a really tight right-hander and you want to brake as late as possible: running deep into the corner and making a ‘V’ shape to get the best exit possible down the crucial back straight.

“The straight itself seems to go on forever and you also have DRS available for the second time around the lap. Looking into the distance, it’s so hard to pinpoint your braking point before you clip the kerbs, do your best to avoid the infamous ‘Wall of Champions’ and put the power down across the start / finish line.”

Hamilton goes for pole in 2014 Canadian Grand Prix qualifying from 6pm on Saturday.

* For more Formula 1 news, visit our motorsport section here.

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