Sebastian Vettel usurped Lewis Hamilton in the Formula One drivers' standings thanks to a consummate victory at Sunday's Canadian Grand Prix. Mercedes sent him into the pits early to deal with the issue but unusually out of sorts at a track where he has won six times, he was then jumped during the stop by Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo and a race that had quickly become a damage-limitation exercise was proving to be a real struggle.
In a tight and intriguing contest between the three leading teams, Vettel clocked a best lap in a record one minute, 10.764 seconds to secure his 54th pole position and outpace nearest rival Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes and Dutchman Max Verstappen.
Ferrari's strong performance around the power-sensitive Circuit Gilles Villeneuve validated the team's latest specification power unit, which debuted this round, putting Vettel in good stead to continue his championship fight.
Stroll and Hartley's coming together saw the safety vehicle deployed but that was the extent of the drama.
Hamilton is looking to equal Schumacher's record of seven career Canadian GP wins.
"That's why I am very happy to have qualified on pole".
"We got pole today for a reason", said Vettel.
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"I don't think the hypersoft is a good race tyre".
Vettel ended Q1 on top ahead of the Finn with Hamilton third, but it was tense for McLaren as twice former champion Fernando Alonso squeezed into Q2 at the end in 14th place ahead of team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne.
But Bottas and Hamilton may have been set back by the team's inability to get an updated engine ready in time for the race, while Ferrari and Red Bull both had new parts. Constantly today going into that corner I was struggling to get the vehicle stopped, be it front locking or rear locking, so it was quite messy.
"With the start we had, with the race we had, there was nothing more we could do", said Bottas, who has finished second four times this season, but hasn't yet won.
'Of course the beginning of the year so far, it hasn't been going that well and not in the way that I liked it. "I corrected, but I didn't have enough room, and we collided along the wall". Even given the new engine Vettel had the pace of the field and managed his one-stop race untroubled to the flag.