Lewis Hamilton blew away championship rival Sebastian Vettel with a phenomenal lap to secure pole position for today’s Canadian Grand Prix.
Hamilton’s stunning time, the fastest ever at Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, also moved the triple world champion level on 65 career pole positions with his childhood hero Ayrton Senna.
He 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 yesterday.
It was here ten years ago where Hamilton secured his first grand prix victory and he will now be odds-on to record his sixth win 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 led for 27 laps at the Brickyard before his engine let him down.
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.
There have been some rumblings in the paddock, too, that British driver Jolyon Palmer may be replaced before the end of the campaign. The 26-year-old, in his second season in the sport, has failed to score a single point this year, but after progressing to Q2 – thanks in part to Pascal Wehrlein’s spin in the closing moments of the opening phase – he qualified 15th.
His Renault team-mate Nico Hulkenberg, who in contrast has 14 points to his name this term, will be tenth on the grid.
Palmer, an eye-watering seven tenths of a second slower, has been out-qualified by the German at every round this season.
Lance Stroll, the first Canadian driver to appear on this soil since Jacques Villeneuve more than a decade ago, has endured a testing start to his grand prix career.
The 18-year-old rookie, whose progression through the motorsport ranks has been bankrolled by his fashion billionaire father Lawrence Stroll, has struggled for speed and he will start a lowly and disappointing 17th today after falling at the first hurdle of qualifying. Felipe Massa, Stroll’s veteran Williams team-mate lines up seventh.
Grid: 1 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes GP, 2 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari, 3 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes GP, 4 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari, 5 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull, 6 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Red Bull, 7 Felipe assa (Bra) Williams, 8 Sergio Perez (Mex) Force India, 9 Esteban Ocon (Fra) Force India, 10 Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Renault, 11 Daniil Kvyat (Rus) Scuderia Toro Rosso, 12 Fernando Alonso (Spa) McLaren, 13 Carlos Sainz (Spa) Scuderia Toro Rosso, 14 Romain Grosjean (Fra) Haas F1, 15 Jolyon Palmer (Gbr) Renault, 16 Stoffel Vandoorne (Bel) McLaren, 17 Lance Stroll (Can) Williams, 18 Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas F1, 19 Marcus Ericsson (Swe) Sauber-Ferrari, 20 Pascal Wehrlein (Ger) Sauber-Ferrari