Sure, Friday Free Practice two and Saturday’s Free Practice three seemed to go Ferrari’s way but the reality is, Mercedes showed their pace in Free Practice one and even though the long straights were favoring the red cars, the Silver Arrows still is the team to beat heading into qualifying for Sunday’s Canadian Grand Prix.

Q1

All the teams were very slow on coming out into Q1 and perhaps that’s because the track has been very dirty all weekend long. Teams were waiting for others to go out and sweep the track off a bit.

It was Williams F1 who took to the track first and they’d been struggling with braking all Friday afternoon. They set initial times but were quickly eclipsed by everyone else’s initial laps.

Lando Norris looked handy by putting his car on top of the time sheets ahead of Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg and that lasted until the top teams came out and put their initial laps in. Still, McLaren, once again, laying claim to best of the rest early on. Could Renault or Haas F1 match that?

It was Charles Leclerc who dragged his Ferrari to the top ahead of Max Verstappen in a Red Bull in 3rd and Sebastian Vettel in his own Ferrari in 2nd. Both Mercedes drivers down in 4th and 5th led by Lewis Hamilton over Valtteri Bottas. The Sky Sports team hand-wringing over Mercedes performance and wondering if they didn’t have more power or if the tires just weren’t working for them. In fairness, Autosport’s Jonathan Noble did say earlier this week that Canada may be the track that begins sorting the tires out for other teams given the track layout.

As the session wound down to just 4:00 left, the track was evolving and Vettel took his Ferrari to the top with Leclerc behind him and both Mercedes jumping up to 3rd and 4th ahead of Verstappen. The best of the rest battle took a turn toward Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo who jumped above Norris for a 7th quickest lap. That glory was then eclipsed by Haas F1 driver Romain Grosjean nabbed 7th.

With just 1 minute left, there were 14 of 20 cars on track making final runs. Nico Hulkenberg through down a 6th fastest lap for best of the rest while McLaren’s Norris and Carlos Sainz were hot on his heels in 7th and 8th. Both Toro Rosso’s and both Haas F1 cars made it into Q2. Unfortunately, both Racing Point cars were out in Lance Stroll’s home race.

Out in Q1`- Raikkonen, Perez, Stroll, Russell, Kubica

Q2

The Mercedes duo were first out on Q2 and running nose-to-tail with Lewis leading Valtteri. Ferrari had both cars out with Leclerc leading Vettel but he ran wide at the chicane and allowed Sebastian through to take the top time while he languished down 5th fastest.

Mercedes and Ferrari were running the Medium compounds and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen’s run was on Mediums but he got balked by traffic. The rest of the teams were all running the Soft re-striped compounds. Leclerc did a second hot lap and did manage to slot into 2nd behind Vettel.

Pierre Gasly took his Red Bull up to 2nd fastest while Verstappen was struggling down in 11th and in the elimination zone. Would Red Bull gamble and send Max out on a new set of Mediums, like his teammate, or would they not risk it and put the Soft tires on? They only had 5 minutes to decide.

Lewis hoisted his Mercedes up to 1st with a 1:11.010s just ahead of Vettel and Gasly but Bottas was able to claw his way up behind Hamilton for the 2nd fastest run in the session.

With a minute left, Verstappen was sent out on the Soft compound tire, which isn’t what the team wanted to do, in order to get into Q3.

The final runs were all impacted by Kevin Magnussen who hit the Wall of Champions and this brought out a red flag and spoiled his teammate’s chance as well as Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. The irony is that Kevin did manage to make it through to Q3 but Verstappen and Grosjean did not. That’s what happens when you take the Stag Logo off your car.

Out in Q2- Verstappen, Kvyat, Giovinazzi, Albon, Grosjean

Q3

The session started late due to clean-up of the track and Magnussen’s stranded car. First out was Red Bull’s Pierre Gasly. There was a storyline emerging, however, and that was the pace of the Renault duo of Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg. They were running best of the rest in Q2 and it lent some credence to Daniel’s comments earlier in the week when he said the upgrades the team brought to Canada were legit and the data proved it. Can they beat McLaren Gasly for 5th and 6th?

Gasly set an initial lap time that was the slowest he’s gone in qualifying. Leclerc slotted in 3rd behind Vettel and Hamilton on the top gunning for his 7th pole position in Canada. Bottas spun on his hot lap but stayed out of the wall and pit for new tires.

All eyes were on Leclerc who went for a second lap as did Vettel and this is where Ferrari were doing well in practice—making the soft tires last for a few laps and setting quicker times in doing so. Unfortunately the double-lap trick didn’t work and neither driver could get ahead of Hamilton.

The challenge for best of the rest was heating up with both Renault’s ahead of the McLarens but all four were jumped by Gasly on his second attempt. Ricciardo said he was experiencing oversteer and went for a wing adjustment for his final run.

With 2 minutes left, Hamilton came out to defend his provisional pole position. Both Ferrari’s hot on his tail. Bottas came out for his first run of the session and slotted into 5th.

Sebastian Vettel threw down a fantastic lap and took pole position away from Lewis Hamilton while Leclerc managed 3rd. Daniel Ricciardo had a terrific lap moving into 4th. While the McLaren’s sunk to 8th and 9th.

POS DRIVER CAR TIME GAP
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m10.240s
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m10.446s 0.206s
3 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1m10.920s 0.680s
4 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1m11.071s 0.831s
5 Pierre Gasly Red Bull/Honda 1m11.079s 0.839s
6 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m11.101s 0.861s
7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m11.324s 1.084s
8 Lando Norris McLaren/Renault 1m11.863s 1.623s
9 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren/Renault 1m13.981s 3.741s
10 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari
11 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda 1m11.800s
12 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso/Honda 1m11.921s
13 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1m12.136s
14 Alexander Albon Toro Rosso/Honda 1m12.193s
15 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari
16 Sergio Perez Racing Point/Mercedes 1m12.197s
17 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1m12.230s
18 Lance Stroll Racing Point/Mercedes 1m12.266s
19 George Russell Williams/Mercedes 1m13.617s
20 Robert Kubica Williams/Mercedes 1m14.393s

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About time this overhyped 4 time WDC show he can still deliver