Sebastian Vettel takes Canadian GP pole ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen

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Lewis Hamilton handed the advantage to rival Sebastian Vettel after a mistake on his final run left him only fourth on the grid for the Canadian Grand Prix.

Vettel, who trails Hamilton by 14 points in the title race, took pole position with a track record of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve to finish ahead of Valtteri Bottas.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen placed third in the dying moments of a thrilling qualifying session to bump championship leader Hamilton further down the order.

Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen will line up in fifth with Monaco Grand Prix winner Daniel Ricciardo sixth for Red Bull.

Verstappen’s crash last time out in Monaco marked his fifth big mistake from six rounds, and he arrived in North America threatening to “headbutt someone” following a series of questions about his accident-prone campaign.

The 20-year-old has been in impressive form this weekend, but the lack of Renault power in the final sector of this high-power circuit cost him the chance to usurp Vettel as the sport’s youngest ever pole sitter.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner congratulated Verstappen on finishing third, with the Dutchman replaying: “I guess it shows I still know how to drive.”

Verstappen added: “I’m very happy with this weekend. The car has been working really well and we know in qualifying we are missing top speed.

“We have the pace to take the fight to Ferrari and Mercedes. Starting on the softer tyre is a benefit as it’s quite slippery on track and in the race I think we’ll be competitive.”

Vettel is winless from the last four races but he is now in a strong position to ensure that does not extend to five rounds after edging out Bottas by just eight hundredths of a second.

“I got the job done,” Vettel said. “Yesterday we were in trouble in practice as I wasn’t really happy with the car because we had some problems and I couldn’t get the rhythm.

“But today we switched on. The car was incredible, and it just kept getting quicker.”

Hamilton was on course to challenge Vettel for pole, but went in too deep on his brakes at the hairpin and crossed the line adrift of his championship rival.

Fernando Alonso is celebrating his 300th grand prix here this weekend, becoming only the fourth driver in F1 history to reach the landmark.

But the two-time champion, and indeed his British team, had little to toast on Saturday after a thoroughly underwhelming performance.

Alonso qualified 14th, one place ahead of his team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne, to mark his worst grid position in Canada since his opening season at minnows Minardi in 2001.

It has been another weekend to forget for Williams, too. The Oxfordshire team have scored the fewest points of all this year, and Canadian teenager Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin could manage only 17th and 18th respectively.

It would have been worse, but for Romain Grosjean’s dramatic engine blow-up and Marcus Ericsson clipping the wall. Grosjean failed to set a lap, while Ericsson limped back to his Sauber garage with terminal damage.

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Red Bull's Max Verstappen dominates practice at Canadian Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen delivered a strong response to his recent critics by completing a practice double for the Canadian Grand Prix.

Verstappen’s crash last time out in Monaco marked his fifth big mistake from six rounds, and he arrived in North America threatening to “headbutt someone” following a series of questions about his accident-prone campaign.

But the 20-year-old Dutchman topped the time sheets in both sessions in his Red Bull at a sun-drenched Circuit Gilles Villeneuve as he allowed his driving to do the talking.

Verstappen finished 0.130 seconds clear of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen with championship leader Lewis Hamilton half-a-second off the pace. Sebastian
Vettel, who trails Hamilton by 14 points in the title race, was fifth in the order.

Hamilton fears he will not be in contention for the victory this weekend after his Mercedes team failed to bring a scheduled engine update with them to the seventh round of the campaign.

It means Hamilton, 33, is set to be down on power, while he continues with an engine that he has used at every round since the opening rubber in Australia. In contrast, Vettel has been afforded the luxury of a fresh Ferrari power unit.

Red Bull, too, are running an upgraded Renault engine, and after Daniel Ricciardo dominated in Monte Carlo a fortnight ago, it was the turn of Verstappen to impress here.

Ricciardo missed much of the second session with engine troubles, but the Australian emerged in the closing moments to post a time good enough for fourth, four tenths adrift of his team-mate.

There will be more time to come from Hamilton, who is chasing a record-equalling seventh win in Montreal, after his Mercedes team elected not to use the fastest ‘hypersoft’ tyre compound on Friday.

The second running was red-flagged when Carlos Sainz hit the wall at turn seven after losing control of his Renault. The Spaniard limped back to the pits, but the session was stopped to deal with the resulting debris.

Fernando Alonso is competing in his 300th grand prix this weekend, and the two-time world champion finished 10th.

Elsewhere, Williams, who are rooted to the foot of the constructors’ championship, saw both of their drivers struggle.

Canadian teenager Lance Stroll thudded the so-called ‘Wall of Champions’ and suffered a puncture, while his team-mate Sergey Sirotkin spun at turn six in the day’s first running. The duo then propped up the time sheets in the concluding session.

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Max Verstappen says he will 'head-butt' the next reporter who questions his approach to racing

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Max Verstappen has come under fire this season for his repeated crashes.

Max Verstappen says he will “head-butt” the next reporter who asks about his crash-strewn start to the Formula One season.

At a press conference ahead of this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix, the Red Bull driver was asked about a series of incidents he has been involved in this season, the latest coming when he crashed during practice at the Monaco Grand Prix.

It was a line of questioning that exasperated Verstappen.

“I don’t know,” Verstappen said in response to a reporter who asked why he keeps getting into accidents. “But as I said at the start, I am tired of these questions and if I get any more I am going to head-butt someone.”

“I’m really tired of all the comments about me – that I should change my approach.

“I will never do that. It has brought me to where I am right now and after the race is not the right time to talk.”

“I don’t listen to it anyway. I just do my own thing.

“Of course it hasn’t being going that well in the way I like it. A few mistakes, especially Monaco and China, but it doesn’t make sense to keep talking about it.”

Verstappen, who has failed to finish in two of the six races this season with a best result of third in Spain last month, is sixth in the standings some 75 points behind leader Lewis Hamilton and with less than half the number of his Australian team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.

However, he’s expecting an upturn in his fortunes.

“I’m confident I can turn things around,” he said. “I’ve always been fast and the pace is there every single weekend.”

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