The sun shone on Ile Notre Dame as Nico Rosberg put one over on his Mercedes team-mate and Sebastian Vettel psoted his best 2014 qualifying…
Current Qualifying scores:
Hamilton 4 – 3 Rosberg
Ricciardo 5 – 2 Vettel
Button 4 – 3 Magnussen
Alonso 4 – 3 Raikkonen
Hulkenberg 5 – 2 Perez
Massa 3 – 4 Bottas
Vergne 5 – 2 Kvyat
Sutil 3 – 4 Gutierrez
Grosjean 7 – 0 Maldonado
Kobyashi 6 – 1 Ericsson
Bianchi 4 – 3 Chilton
The big shocker was that Nico Rosberg improved enough between Q2 and Q3 to claim pole position. It will have helped that he was able to study Lewis’s braking traces (Montreal is a big braking circuit) and so in future, Lewis might not be so keen to show his hand early on. However Lewis was generous in defeat: “Both my laps weren’t great – sometimes you do good laps, sometimes you don’t. We’ll work on it tonight – it’s difficult to overtake a driver in the same car, especially when Nico’s driving so well.”
Sebastian Vettel got the better of Daniel Ricciardo for only the second time this year and only then by 0.041 of a second – that was the difference between 3rd and 6th on the grid with the two Williams sandwiched in between. Before the session started Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said he would be happy to get both of his cars onto the third row of the grid, so the second row was a real result.
For the same reason, Williams’ Rob Smedley was disappointed that his drivers didn’t pick up third and fourth on the grid and had to be content with 4th and 5th. “I thought we had the legs to be third today so that’s a bit disappointing,” said the Head of Vehicle Performance. Last year Valtteri Bottas had finished P3 in Montreal thanks to a stellar qualifying lap in mixed conditions. This year they’d done it in the dry and are targeting a podium tomorrow.
Kimi Raikkonen’s F14T kissed the camera embedded in the barrier at the exit of Turn 4 on his Q2 lap. Or if he didn’t, it was microns away. Fernando Alonso had been quickest in first free practice on Friday when it was cooler, but revealed that the 40C+ track temperatures of Saturday compromised his car: “Some of the package and some of the new pieces we brought here, with the hot temperatures, we need to come back to the old ones because they run too hot so we lost a bit of the advantage we expected here.”
With an even hotter ambient temperature expected for tomorrow’s race, things don’t look like they will improve for the Scuderia. The hotter temperatures might tip the balance for teams to use two-stops or more. The long runs on Friday, when teams judge tyre wear, were made in much cooler conditions. The likelihood of teams trying a one-stop race strategy are receding thanks to the expected 28-29C on race day.
Pastor Maldonado slowed to a stop out on the circuit at the end of Q1. He has now been eliminated in Q1 for six of the seven races of 2014. And the only time that he got through to Q2 on the grid – Monaco – he had to start the race from the pitlane. Romain Grosjean isn’t that far in front of him, though, starting from P14 to Pastor’s P17.
Jules Bianchi may have been Marussia’s hero in Monaco, but Max Chilton outgunned him for the third time this season. With two minutes left of Q1 to run, Max was in P16, but ended the session in P18.
Esteban Gutierrez lost his Sauber through Turns 3 and 4 in final practice, spinning the car and hitting the barrier backwards, damaging two corners in the process. The team couldn’t rebuild the car in time for qualifying and so Esteban had to watch from the pitwall.
Fuel will be marginal in Montreal and drivers will be able to save a lot by getting a tow, but not overtaking, the car in front. Lewis has been better than Nico at saving fuel this year, with a lot of lifting and coasting. It could be that he’ll be in no hurry to get past his rival in the first half of the race while keeping his fuel flow low.