Lewis Hamilton finishes fourth in 2018 Canadian Grand Prix qualifying
- Credit: Daimler AG
Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton finished fourth in qualifying for the 2018 Canadian Grand Prix.
So who claimed pole position for the 2018 Canadian GP at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal?
That honour went to Sebastian Vettel. The Ferrari driver set a new lap record of 1m 10.764s in Q3 to beat Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas to pole.
Max Verstappen took third place in qualifying with Hamilton fourth quickest with a lap of 1m 10.996s.
As a result Hamilton, the four-time F1 world champion from Hertfordshire, failed to record his seventh pole position at the Montreal circuit.
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The 33-year-old Mercedes driver claimed provisional pole in Q3 with an opening flying lap of 1m 11.227s – a then new track record.
However, that lap best time was soon beaten by Hamilton’s Silver Arrows team-mate Bottas with a 1m 10.857s, and then again a few seconds later by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel with a blistering 1m 10.776s.
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After the opening runs of Q3, Hamilton found himself down in fifth place behind Vettel, Bottas, Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen.
Vettel improved to a 1m 10.764s with his final hot lap to claim pole position, his 54th in F1, with Bottas securing a front row start alongside him.
Verstappen and Hamilton will line-up on the second row of the grid on Sunday. Kimi Raikkonen and Daniel Ricciardo will start from the third row in fifth and sixth places respectively.
Stevenage-born Hamilton had earlier cruised into Q2 after taking P3 behind the Ferraris in the first phase of qualifying. Bottas was right Hamilton in P4.
Bottas then clocked a 1m 11.514s to go fastest in the opening minutes of Q2, before Red Bull driver Max Verstappen went top of the timesheets with a 1m 11.472s.
After the first runs, Hamilton found himself in P5 after a costly lockup on what would otherwise have been a great lap.
In the final Q2 results, both Mercedes drivers went through to the final shootout on the UltraSofts – Valtteri and Lewis finishing in P3 and P6 respectively.
In the closing runs of Q2, Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo set a then lap record of 1m 11.434s around the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
That didn’t last long though, with the time being eclipsed in Q3 by Hamilton, Bottas and then Vettel in quick succession.
And it was Vettel who finished the qualifying session in first place – and he will start Sunday’s race as favourite.
Hamilton was disappointed with his qualifying performance in Montreal today. He said: “It was a difficult qualifying. My laps weren’t good and it just didn’t quite come together for me.
“In practice things looked good and I think I could have been quickest in FP3, but in qualifying I couldn’t quite hit the potential we had shown.
“I don’t think today’s performance has got anything to do with the older engine. Sebastian simply did a better job when it counted in Q3.
“You can see just how tight things are at the front of the grid, so I think it could be tricky to overtake tomorrow.”
As for his chances of taking the chequered flag in Canada, Hamilton added: “Sure, it’ll be tough to win from fourth here, but nothing is impossible. I’ll dig deep tonight. My focus now is on tomorrow.”
Both Mercedes drivers will start tomorrow’s Grand Prix on the UltraSoft tyre
While Hamilton was unhappy with his qualifying session, Bottas felt it was “pretty good”.
Bottas said: “I was able to find a lot of performance from FP3 to qualifying and it felt like I got everything out of the car.
“It’s a good result, although it’s not perfect to start behind the Ferrari, but we knew that they would bring some improvements for this weekend.
“Red Bull will also be a threat, but it’s cool to see three teams fighting for the win.
“We’re happy that we qualified on the UltraSoft tyre in Q2, I think it’s the right choice for our car.
“It will be interesting to see how it does in the start of the race, especially because Red Bull will start on the HyperSoft.
“Overall it seems like the margins are very small between the top three teams, so the strategy could really be the key. It should be an interesting race tomorrow.”
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff admitted the Silver Arrows didn’t have the pace to take pole ahead of Vettel’s Ferrari.
He said: “We were not quick enough today in qualifying, which is pretty disappointing at a circuit where we have traditionally been very strong, and P2 and P4 on the grid reflect that.
“It once again showed us that this is a championship where tiny details will make the difference in the end: the gaps are measured in fractions of a tenth of a second and every single small detail counts towards our final performance.
“It’s not one factor or the other, but every piece of the puzzle that we need to get right if we want to win.”
Turning to the performances of his two drivers, he said: “Valtteri drove well to take P2 with a very strong first run – but then unfortunately couldn’t improve on his final set of tyres.
“Lewis made a useful improvement on that last run but was never totally comfortable on the HyperSoft tyre today and his qualifying position shows that. The positive is that we have both cars starting on the UltraSoft, so we hope to be in a strong position for the race with a number of strategic options.”
Mercedes’ chief race engineer Andrew Shovlin added: “We’d expected qualifying to be a close fought battle today but thought we had a chance at pole given the pace of the car this weekend.
“We didn’t really have any issues, it just looks very close with Ferrari in particular and this afternoon we just weren’t quite quick enough.
“Valtteri had a solid qualifying session, his first run in Q3 was strong and that left him less than a tenth off pole.
“His second run wasn’t quite as tidy, losing a little in turn two that he couldn’t make back around the remainder of the track but he did a good job with what we have and he should be happy with his lap.
“Lewis had a more difficult session, not quite finding the car as predictable as it had been in free practice and that meant it was tricky to get the lap together.
“Only six hundredths would have put Lewis into third on the grid and it’s always frustrating when you miss a place by such a small margin.
“So, overall a somewhat underwhelming day but we are expecting to race well tomorrow and we will be working hard tonight to look at the various opportunities in strategy that will give us the chance to win.”
As for race day strategy, Shovlin added: “It’s going to be interesting at the front with the Red Bulls on the HyperSoft compound, which looks to be quite fragile, and Mercedes and Ferrari on the UltraSofts.
“It’s also a race that rarely runs start to finish without a few incidents or safety cars, so there is plenty of opportunity likely to come our way if we can stay at the front and put some pressure on the cars around us.”