Lewis Hamilton beat team-mate Nico Rosberg to pole position by the narrowest of margins at the Canadian Grand Prix, as Mercedes held off the challenge from rivals Ferrari and Red Bull in qualifying.
Hamilton clocked a best lap of one minute and 14.212 seconds to outpace nearest rival four-time champion Sebastian Vettel, in a Ferrari powered by an updated engine, by 0.257 seconds.
We arrive in Montreal at the Gilles Villeneuve circuit anticipating a big race following the drama of a fortnight ago. “It’s been great to see so many spectators out there already today and I’m sure there will be an awesome atmosphere over the weekend”. “I tried guys, I tried but it was not enough”, he said.
“It doesn’t matter how far you are ahead as long as you are ahead”, said Hamilton after qualifying.
Earlier, the opening session was red-flagged for 10 minutes after the Williams driver of Felipe Massa endured a high-speed shunt at turn one.
“There will be a few opportunities to overtake Lewis in the race”.
Both Mercedes drivers set their fastest times on their first flying laps at the start of Q3, with Hamilton failing to improve his lap time on his second effort and Rosberg making an error into the first corner.
“I didn’t have the same pace I had yesterday, but it was obviously enough”, Hamilton said.
Button said the difference between them was that Alonso had benefited from a “tow” – being in his slipstream – on the decisive lap. Rosberg abandoned his lap leaving a healthy pole to Hamilton.
“As that is the fact, I’m pretty happy I’m still on pole”.
“This is a circuit where I can really muscle the auto around the chicanes”.
After Saturday’s qualifying, Rosberg seemed nearly resigned to the same scenario when the Grand Prix stars at 2 p.m. Sunday.
At the other end of the grid Haas duo Esteban Gutierrez and Romain Grosjean just made it through, surviving a late onslaught from Renault’s Jolyon Palmer who – despite a brush with the wall of champions – improved at the death, but fell 0.015s shy of demoting Grosjean.
Out with the Indonesian went both Saubers, Pascal Wehrlein in the second Manor and both Renaults, Kevin Magnussen having crashed in final free practice during the morning. “Again to show that we are the fastest auto”.
Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India was nearly two tenths further back from Massa in ninth, while Fernando Alonso’s McLaren-Honda rounded out the top 10.
With the leaders in ultrasoft tires, Rosberg topped the timesheet ahead of Vettel, Hamilton and Raikkonen.