Sebastian Vettel secured pole position for the Canadian Grand Prix after a close battle with both Mercedes and Red Bull, as championship leader Lewis Hamilton could only qualify in fourth place.
Vettel led Valtteri Bottas after the opening runs with Hamilton making a mistake at the hairpin on his first lap, and the Briton again locked up on his final attempt to take fourth on the grid. Vettel shaved less than 0.01s off his time on his last lap to post a 1:10.764, setting a new track record in the process.
Bottas led the charge for Mercedes and ended up 0.093s adrift of Vettel in second place, while Max Verstappen made it three different cars in the first three positions with an impressive final attempt. While Verstappen had been fastest in all three practice sessions, Red Bull was still not the favorite for pole position, but a strong first sector set the Dutchman up for a lap that was 0.173s off Vettel’s time and got ahead of Hamilton.
Kimi Raikkonen will start from fifth after a mistake on his final run ahead of Daniel Ricciardo in sixth, with Nico Hulkenberg, Esteban Ocon, Carlos Sainz and Sergio Perez rounding out the top ten.
The two Red Bull drivers will start the race on the hypersoft tires having been first and second in Q2 on that compound, while both Mercedes and Ferrari drivers advanced on the ultrasoft and will therefore start on the slightly more durable compound.
Although practice looked extremely tight for the midfield teams in the battle to reach Q3, there was a bigger deficit in the second part of qualifying as Kevin Magnussen dropped out in 11th place and was over 0.2s off the top ten. Brendon Hartley was 0.029s further back in 12th in a somewhat encouraging performance, with Charles Leclerc again impressing in 13th for Sauber.
The two McLarens had only just made it through to Q2 by less than 0.1s in 14th and 15th, respectively, and that’s exactly where they were eliminated with Fernando Alonso just ahead of teammate Stoffel Vandoorne. Both were the best part of half a second adrift of the top ten and 0.8s off Renault.
Q1 got off to a dramatic start when Romain Grosjean pulled out of the Haas garage and immediately suffered a problem as smoke started pouring out of the rear of his car. The Frenchman was told to stop before he had even reached the end of the pit lane, and although he was wheeled back into the Haas garage, it marked the end of his session.
With just four other drivers set to drop out, Marcus Ericsson soon left only three in danger when he too was forced to stop running early. Ericsson hit the wall on the exit of Turn 9 and had to return to the pits, but was lucky the incident was not more severe as a Red Bull — just off line on the exit of the corner — nearly collected the Swede as he bounced off the concrete.
Ericsson didn’t re-emerge, and it was no surprise to see the two Williams drivers joining him in elimination having been the slowest team throughout practice, with Lance Stroll in 17th and Sergey Sirotkin in 18th.
The other driver to drop out was Pierre Gasly, who was using an old specification Honda power unit after a loss of power at the end of FP3 led to a precautionary change. Gasly ended up 16th, 0.049s away from Vandoorne and a spot in Q2.