Montreal Quali Recap: Vettel wins pole in the rain, Bottas 3rd fastest

Sebastian Vettel (1:25.425) won pole for the 2013 Canadian Grand Prix through three session of increasingly heavy rainfall. Though Lewis Hamilton wanted to repeat his performance and win last season, he could not quite beat Vettel’s time and qualified second. Valtteri Bottas was the star of the rain-leveled qualifying sessions, moving his Williams quietly forward through the sessions and qualifying third fastest, with Nico Rosberg to start alongside him Sunday. Mark Webber, Fernando Alonso, Jean-Eric Vergne, Adrian Sutil, Kimi Raikkonen, and Daniel Ricciardo rounded out the top ten qualifiers.

Rain fell lightly for Q1, leading to a number of slides, spins, and trips down escape roads and through the grass. Somehow a number of drivers managed to save their off track excursions, with no one hitting barriers. Paul di Resta and Romain Grosjean both fell through the cracks, with the former again blaming Force India for pitting him at the wrong time, this week with a gearbox issue. Q2 turned into a single lap shoot out after Felipe Massa stopped the session, causing a red flag with two minutes to go by sliding into the tyre barrier at Turn 3. Drivers queued to restart in something of a scrum, fighting over position. Jenson Button looked to give himself a bit of space near the end of the line and was unable to start his final fast lap before the checkered flag, falling out in Q3.

di Resta (1:21.020) led the way in the first practice session in Montreal, setting his fast time late in the session. Most drivers took their sweet time in setting times, as the morning session started on a wet track after overnight rain.  Button, Grosjean, Alonso, and Raikkonen rounded out the fastest five drivers at the end of the ninety minute practice. Though the day began in the wet, the only major incident came after the circuit had dried out plenty for slick tyres. Maldonado crashed at Turn 4 with just minutes remaining. At that point Button led the timesheets, but di Resta had just the right timing to best the world champion at the flag.

Alonso (1:14.818) led Hamilton by just over a hundredth of a second at the end of Friday’s afternoon practice. The entire session was dry and gave teams a chance to try out the new tyres readied for Silverstone with less likelihood of delamination. Grosjean, Webber, and Rosberg completed the top five runners. Vettel, who managed only seventh fastest, had been in a fight with Hamilton, Alonso and Webber over the fastest time around the midpoint of the session before all drivers settled in for long race simulations. There were no major incidents in the dry, though Button suffered gearbox issues and di Resta spent much of the session in the garage with a fuel pick up problem.

Webber (1:17.895) was fastest at the end of a truncated final practice. An incident during the Ferrari Challenge damaged the Turn 11 barriers heavily enough that the repairs cut into time for the typically hour long FP3. The session began at 10:30am local time and lasted only thirty minutes, as the rules mandate two hours break between the final practice and the start of qualifying, which began at 1pm local time. Rain had again fallen overnight and the track surface was damp and slippery. Sutil, Hamilton, Alonso, and Vettel joined Webber in the fastest five, all setting their fast times after the checkered flag fell as drivers streamed across the circuit on supersoft tyres.

The sky remained grey, and the temperatures cool enough for jackets, but the track was as dry as humidity allowed as the twenty minutes of Q1 began. Moments before the first of three qualifying sessions, rain began again. No one queued as the light went green, but the Toro Rosso duo led a number of drivers directly out to race for a fast time. The teams went for supersoft tyres for their first laps on the still dryish circuit. Raikkonen was the first to take a trip through the grass, though Chilton spun his way off at the hairpin, though he stayed out of the gravel.

Drivers completed an installation lap, then dove directly back into the pits for inters without setting any lap times. Vettel had waited until after the initial rush to leave the garage and simply joined on inters five minutes into the session. Times soon came, in the latter one minute twentysomething seconds. Times dropped rapidly, as quickly as the next driver could cross the line in the first rush of quick laps.Sutil got a bit onto the line paint and spun into the hairpin, nearly into the Armco on the turn in, as he had just been passed. He continued on.

Hamilton (1:25.944) led at halfway over Vettel, Webber, Rosberg, Maldonado, Alonso, Hulkenberg, Bottas, Sutil, and di Resta the top ten. Vergne, Button, Pic, van der Garde, Bianchi, and Chilton were then in the knockout zone. Alonso had a near miss, getting offline and into the mud, which forced him wide through the next turn and nearly into the barriers. He saved his Ferrari and continued on down the track.

Soon Vettel led Rosberg and Webber over Hamilton. Raikkonen had drifted quite close to the knockout zone in sixteenth, but moved up to fourth fastest. Alonso moved from thirteenth to fourth, but the order and times continued to change. Hamilton had taken provisional pole, but Vettel bettered him again as many drivers dipped into the garage for a final tyre change.

Massa and Button were in serious danger in sixteenth and seventeenth with six minutes to go, with Chilton, Vergne, Pic, Bianchi, and van der Garde joining Button in the knockout zone. Multiple drivers were slipping and sliding off the track, but still managing to keep their cars out of the barriers.

As drivers rejoined for the final five minutes, they did so on fresh inters, still a bit wary of trying slicks with the spitting rain. Massa moved up to fastest, ahead of Hamilton, only for both to be eclipsed by Webber. Button moved from eighteenth to fifth, looking safe with two and a half minutes to go.

Bottas, Bianchi, Ricciardo, van der Garde, Chilton, and Vergne were all then in the relegation zone. Pic spun, causing a momentary yellow, but continued on. Bottas soon moved up to second fastest, even as Alonso took the top time. Vettel next bettered it, even as Grosjean looked about to be knocked out in Q1, as did di Resta. On their final laps, Gutierrez, Pic, Grosjean, Bianchi, Chilton, and van der Garde were in the knockout zone. Vettel as fastest, and Button in ninth pitted as the checkered flag flew.

Di Resta could manage no more than seventeenth on his final lap. Grosjean could also not manage to move forward, a terrible result when added to his ten place gird penalty. In the end, Vettel (1:22.318) led Alonso, Webber, Bottas, Massa, Hamilton, Rosberg, Hulkenberg, Button, and Vergne the top ten for Q1.

Knocked Out in Q1:
17. Paul di Resta
18. Charles Pic
19. Romain Grosjean
20. Jules Bianchi
21. Max Chilton
22. Giedo van der Garde

Rain fell a tiny bit more heavily for the fifteen minutes of Q2, as some drivers went back out on the same inters they had used in Q1 while others had fresh rubber. Massa made the first use of the escape road for the session, though other drivers were also sliding though the lap. Hamilton led after five minutes, with Webber, Vergne, Rosberg, Alonso, Raikkonen, Ricciardo, Hulkenberg, Perez, and Bottas rounding out the top ten. Multiple drivers lost it through the final chicane, leading Mclaren to tell Button that it was nearly time for wet tyres.

Another local yellow flew at halfway, with Perez, Gutierrez, Massa, Sutil, Maldonado, and Button in the relegation zone. Hamilton and Sutil went off together at Turn 3, but did nothing that would further destroy their repairing friendship. Vettel continued to improve his time after cutting the final chicane on one timed lap.

Vettel still led with five to go, with Rosberg, Hamilton, Webber, Vergne, Hulkenberg, Raikkonen, Alonso, Ricciardo, and Bottas those then safe to move on to Q3. Perez, Gutierrez, Massa, Sutil, Maldonado, and Button all sat in the knockout zone. Hamilton used his second to last inters in the final pit stop of Q2. Bottas moved up to third fastest in the final minutes.

Red Flag (1:59 remaining):
Ferrari struggled, with Massa in fifteenth and Alonso thirteenth. Alonso moved up to fifth fastest moments before Massa flew into the tyre barriers at Turn 3, causing a Red Flag. He touched the white line entering T3, lost the rear end and slid sideways into the tyre barrier. At that point, Maldonado, Button, Ricciardo, Gutierrez, Massa, and Sutil were all in the relegation zone. With just two minutes to go, making a single fast lap would be beyond tricky.

Gutierrez led the queue at pit out, with teammate Hulkenberg right behind. It was a bit of a mêlée, with drivers in no single line but instead parked anywhere suitable. Gutierrez got away cleanly, with Raikkonen directly behind. Button looked racy enough though the out lap, looking for a way around Bottas at the end of the line. Red Bull recalled Vettel on the single lap to the line. Looking for space, Button missed the checkered flag and would remain at best twelfth. Webber was behind the Briton and also lost the possibility of a final lap.

Ricciardo and Sutil both moved up to move on, leaving no room for Hulkenberg in Q3. In the end, Hamilton (1:27.649) was fastest despite a scrum with Perez, over Webber, Vettel, Bottas, Rosberg, Vergne, Raikkonen, Alonso, Sutil, and Ricciardo. They would move forward to fight over pole

Knocked Out in Q2:
11. Nico Hulkenberg
12. Sergio Perez
13. Pastor Maldonado
14. Jenson Button
15. Esteban Gutierrez
16. Felipe Massa

Vettel led Webber in the queue to head out for the final ten minutes of qualifying, but Raikkonen nipped ahead of the Australian at the green light. Rain approached quickly, as the drivers looked for an early fast lap. Bottas was the only driver to remain in the garage in the early running. He joined two minutes into the session. Rosberg and Vettel matched first sectors, but the latter German was much slower in the second sector of their first flying laps. Webber went off at T3 but continued. Vettel (1:25.425) led Hamilton, Rosberg, Alonso, Raikkonen, Vergne, Ricciardo, Sutil, and Webber on the first fast laps.

Raikkonen pitted after an off at nearly halfway. Rosberg followed him in, with most teams seemingly on a two lap, stop, two more laps strategy. Bottas went straight to third fastest on his first fast lap. Hamilton pitted for fresh inters, then sat in the stall with mechanics putting the tyre blankets back on the tyres.

Vettel led Hamlton, Bottas, Rosberg, Webber, Alonso, Vergne, Raikkonen, Ricicardo, and Sutil as drivers began to trickle back onto the ever dampening track. Webber managed to better his teammate’s fastest first sector even as Raikkonen’s time slowed on track with the increasing rain. Rosberg bettered Webber’s first sector, sitting on a decent lap for the conditions. He was unable to improve beyond his fourth position.

Drivers began to slide off again as they pushed in the final moments. Vettel did not improve his provisional pole, not did Hamilton manage to catch him. Drivers on fast laps lost massive amounts of time in the final sector where the rain had been falling heaviest. Hamilton did not improve yet again, despite fast times early in his last lap. Webber could not improve either, sliding his way out of the final chicane. In the end, Vettel sat on his faster earlier time to keep pole and take the Mercedes pole run away from that team.

Final Qualifying Times for the 2013 Canadian Grand Prix:

1. Sebastian VettelRed Bull1:25.42525
2. Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:25.51231
3. Valtteri BottasWilliams1:25.89730
4. Nico RosbergMercedes1:26.00832
5. Mark WebberRed Bull1:26.20830
6. Fernando AlonsoFerrari1:26.50430
7. Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso1:26.54332
8. Adrian SutilForce India1:27.34829
9. Kimi RaikkonenLotus1:27.43232
10. Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso1:27.94631
11. Nico HulkenbergSauber1:29.43522
12. Sergio PerezMcLaren1:29.76123
13. Pastor MaldonadoWilliams1:29.91724
14. Jenson ButtonMcLaren1:30.06822
15. Esteban GutierrezSauber1:30.31524
16. Felipe MassaFerrari1:30.35420
17. Paul di RestaForce India1:24.90812
18. Charles PicCaterham1:25.62610
19. Romain Grosjean*Lotus1:25.71613
20. Jules BianchiMarussia1:26.50812
21. Max ChiltonMarussia1:27.06212
22. Giedo van der GardeCaterham1:27.11010

*10 place grid penalty after Monaco

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