Ferrari’s Vettel claims pole in second straight Canadian Grand Prix

Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany sits in his car during the second practice session at the Canadian Grand Prix Friday, June 7, 2019 in Montreal. (Paul Chiasson/CP)

MONTREAL — If Sebastian Vettel loses his voice from celebrating, it would be a small price to pay for claiming his first pole position in nearly a year.

The Ferrari driver will start from pole for the second time in a row at the Canadian Grand Prix following his record-setting lap of one minute 10.240 seconds in qualifying on Saturday.

Canadian Lance Stroll had a miserable day. He will start third from the back in Sunday’s race.

"I’m not a singer but I was screaming quite hard," said Vettel, who notched his first pole in 17 races dating back to last year’s German Grand Prix in July. "I’m still full of adrenaline. I’m really happy. I wish I could do it again just for the fun of it."

The defending champion Vettel of Germany snatched pole position from reigning world champ Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes in the dying moments of the qualifying session. Hamilton, beaten by two tenths of a second, will start beside Vettel on the front row.

Vettel was jubilant over the team radio when he was told the result.

"I had to pace myself a bit in the first two corners because getting the tires to grip up wasn’t straightforward, but after that it was just a joy," he said. "The car was shouting ‘keep going, keep going.’ I really enjoyed it.

"I wasn’t quite sure if Lewis was improving because he’s pretty handy around here. I wasn’t sure if it was enough and they screamed on the radio ‘pole position.’ Amazing."

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc will start third while Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo will be fourth on the second row of the starting grid. Red Bull’s Pierre Gasly of France placed fifth while Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas of Finland starts sixth.

It looked like Hamilton would snag his record seventh pole at Montreal’s 4.361-kilometre Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. The British driver was the quickest man on the track in the third round of qualifying, leading the pack by two tenths of a second before Vettel’s perfect final lap.

It’s only the second time a team other than Mercedes has been on pole this season. Leclerc of Monaco started on pole in Bahrain, though Hamilton ended up winning that race. Mercedes has won all six races this season.

"This is fantastic for the sport," said Hamilton, the five-time world champion. "I love being in a fight with another team. Today was just so close. We were swapping all the way. I hope this is a turning point for them. I hope it will be close from now on throughout the season. That would be fantastic."

It was Vettel’s fifth career pole position at the Canadian Grand Prix. The German won from pole in Montreal last year.

The polesitter has won the last four Canadian Grand Prix races.

"This is one of the tracks where you need to dare going very close to the walls in many of the places," said Vettel, who also won in Montreal in 2013 with Red Bull. "It’s very bumpy, it’s very tight. If you get it right, it feels great. I think I got it quite right."

Montreal native Stroll failed to make it past the first round of qualifying for the 11th straight time, capping off a frustrating day in front of his hometown fans by finishing 18th.

The 20-year-old was forced to retire from the practice session earlier when the back of his car erupted in flames due to a hydraulic fluid leak.

"It’s too bad for the team," said Stroll, who is 16th in the drivers’ standings with four points. "It looked like we were very strong throughout the weekend. We would have done better if we had a more normal day. That’s how it is. We need to look at our options for overtaking cars tomorrow."

Stroll’s Racing Point teammate Sergio Perez of Mexico was also knocked out at Q1. Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen was eliminated in the first round of qualifying for the first time since 2015.

In the second round of qualifying, the Haas of Kevin Magnussen drove straight into the infamous Wall of Champions on the session’s final lap.

The ensuing red flag forced all drivers back to the pit and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was knocked out at Q2 as a result. The Dutchman will start 11th from the front on Sunday.

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