Lewis Hamilton blew away championship rival Sebastian Vettel with a phenomenal lap to secure pole position for Sunday’s Canadian Grand Prix.
Hamilton’s stunning time, the fastest ever seen at Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, also moved the triple world champion level on 65 career pole positions with his childhood hero Ayrton Senna.
The British driver finished more than three tenths of a second clear of Vettel, whom he trails by 25 points in the championship race, with Valtteri Bottas to line up in third.
Canada has proven to be a happy stomping ground for Hamilton in the past and so it proved again on Saturday following a thrilling qualifying session.
It was here 10 years ago where Hamilton secured his first ever grand prix victory, and he will now be odds-on to record his sixth victory in Montreal after his blistering lap.
Hamilton laid down the gauntlet with a super-quick opener in the final phase of qualifying before Vettel bit back to move to within just four thousandths of the Briton’s time.
But the 32-year-old responded in meteoric fashion to stamp his mark on pole and join Senna in second on the all-time list. Only Michael Schumacher has more poles than Hamilton in the sport’s long history.
An emotional Hamilton was given a race-worn Senna helmet, provided by the Brazilian’s family, which he held aloft in front of the thousands of fans at turn two.
Following his heroics at the Indianapolis 500 a fortnight ago, Fernando Alonso is back behind the wheel of his McLaren this weekend.
The double world champion contested for a famous victory at the Brickyard, but it was back to business as he could haul his Honda-powered McLaren to only 12th on the grid.
Alonso and team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne, 16th in the order, have been the slowest in a straight line for much of the weekend, and it is unsure how much longer McLaren will be prepared to stick it out with their beleaguered engine supplier.