Vettel: Ferrari still has race-winning pace

Hamilton, Vettel, Bottas and Raikkonen all beat the previous lap record at Montreal of 1m 12.275s.

The three-time world champion Briton steered his Mercedes to a fastest time of one minute and 11.459 seconds to outpace nearest rival and world championship leading German Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari by 0.330 seconds.

"It was a sexy lap, a great lap", he said, knowing that he had proved he had rediscovered his raw speed again after a desultory weekend at last month's Monaco Grand Prix. It was a great lap.

"I can not believe it came together so well". I had completely forgotten that. The fact it drew him level with Ayrton Senna's pole position record - and just three short of Michael Schumacher's overall record - will make it even more special for him, and it was marked in classy style by the Senna family, presenting him with one of Ayrton's race-worn helmets from 1987.

The Mercedes-GP driver has won five times in Montreal before, including the past two years, and he will be confident of repeating that feat on Sunday and cutting championship leader Sebastian Vettel's 25-point lead at the top of the drivers' standings.

Hamilton's teammate Valtteri Bottas was third-fastest in qualifying and will start from the second row beside Raikkonen.

The Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciaro were fifth and sixth, followed by Felipe Massa's Williams, Sergeo Perez and Esteban Ocon of Force India and Nico Hulkenberg of Renault.

Hamilton and Bottas resumed their place at the front on their first runs of the afternoon, Bottas finding good pace on the soft compound tyres to split the Ferrari cars, whilst Hamilton move swiftly from fourth to first, less than one-hundredth of a second ahead of pacesetter Raikkonen.

"I've got the stamp, I posted it the other day", he said, before a prod from Vettel at his side made him see the unintended pun. He inspired me to be where I am today.

"To match him and to receive this is the greatest honour".

"I am not so happy with the last run I had in quali", Vettel admitted.

"I sent out a message to my guys this morning, saying we need everything to be on point, we need every single millimeter that the vehicle can give us today - and they did it". In FP1, Carlos Sainz stopped on track with his Toro Rosso smoking gently, whilst Fernando Alonso also stopped at the hairpin for another McLaren disappointment.

Stoffel Vandoorne, Lance Stroll, Kevin Magnussen, Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein were the unlucky ones not going through to Q2, but Ericsson's P19 result marks the first time Wehrlein has been outqualified by a teammate since Suzuka 2016.

Pressure has been mounting on McLaren's engine partner Honda to deliver on promised improvements to the power unit but none have been ready for Montreal and the team continues to languish down the timesheets.

Stroll, who has finished only two of the first six races, hopes to place in the top 10 and earn his first F1 points.

  • Julie Sanders