Sebastian Vettel conceded that he was outpaced by ‘the better man’ in qualifying, but insisted his Ferrari will have the pace to carry him to victory in Sunday’s Canadian Grand Prix.
Speaking to reporters after Hamilton’s 65th career pole position – equalling Ayrton Senna’s total – had put Mercedes at the front of the grid, the four-time champion German was adamant that he can still win the race.
Vettel was fastest in Saturday morning’s third and final free practice session, but was only second best in the afternoon when he was outpaced by three-tenths of a second.
“I think we always expected Mercedes to be very quick, especially in the last segment,” Vettel said. “Lewis did a better job today and he got a good lap. He was the better man today.
“I thought we could step it up and find a bit of time. I lost a bit into Turn Two, and then lost two-tenths out of the second corner and then I knew I had to catch up, which I did until the end of the lap.
“The car was very good and I was happy this morning so we should be good in the race. I think we have the pace to win.”
Vettel has 129 points after winning three of the six races in this year’s championship and leads Hamilton by 25 points.
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.
Lewis Hamilton bounced back to top the times for Mercedes ahead of championship leader Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari in Friday’s opening practice for this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix.
The three-time champion Briton, who is 25 points adrift of Vettel in the title race after a desultory Monaco Grand Prix won by the German, clocked a best lap in one minute and 13.809 seconds to wind up 0.198 seconds clear of his rival.
Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas was third fastest ahead of his Finnish compatriot Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari, Sergio Perez of Force India and his team-mate Frenchman Esteban Ocon.
Dutch teenager Max Verstappen was seventh for Red Bull ahead of Felipe Massa of Williams, Australian Daniel Ricciardo in the second Red Bull and Daniil Kvyat of Toro Rosso.
On a cool and dry morning at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Mercedes were relieved to demonstrate they are back in contention after suffering tyre performance problems in Monte Carlo where Ferrari reeled off a dominant one-two.
The session was littered with minor incidents as most of the field suffered spins and two were forced to withdraw from the fray – Carlos Sainz pulling up with smoke billowing from his Toro Rosso after only one lap and two-time champion Fernando Alonso abandoning his McLaren-Honda with gearbox problems.