MONTREAL, Quebec, Canada – Lewis Hamilton matched Ayrton Senna for second all-time on the F1 pole positions list Saturday at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, topping qualifying for the 65th time in his career ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix.
In the process, Hamilton also reestablished the track record at the 2.71-mile Canadian circuit, posting a lap of 1:11.459 in Q3 and smashing Ralf Schumacher’s 13-year-old mark of 1:12.275.
“Honestly, I’m so happy. Montreal has been very good to me over the years. It was such a close battle with the Ferraris – they have been so quick this weekend,” Hamilton said. “I dug down deep … It was a great lap, a sexy lap. After having such a tough time in Monaco, we learned from our mistakes. I owe this one to all the team back at the factories in Brackley and Brixworth.”
Following qualifying, in commemoration of tying his boyhood hero, Hamilton was presented with a race-worn Senna helmet from 1987, a gift from Senna’s family.
Hamilton was visibly emotional, and said he was awed by the gesture.
“I was just shaking when I was presented with Ayrton’s helmet,” he said. “For many of you, Ayrton was your favorite driver. He was mine too. To receive this and match his record is a great honor.”
“For the Senna family to send me this … I don’t actually own any of Ayrton’s artifacts, anything from him, so this is the most special thing I have. It goes above and beyond all my trophies and everything. A big, big thank you — I’m honored to be honored by that family.”
The push for pole began with a 12-minute final session in Q3, following a back-and-forth preview of yet another Mercedes-Ferrari battle that was seen in Q2.
Sebastian Vettel set the fastest mark to beat early with a lap of 1:12.341, but it was Hamilton who jumped to the pole afterwards with a 1:11.791.
Eager to keep pace, Vettel jumped up to second on his next run, with a time four-thousandths of a second slower than Hamilton, who had yet to make his final run.
Hamilton began his final run with one minute and 20 seconds remaining. The Englishman found a tenth of a second in sector one, then went fastest of all comers in sector two before crossing the line with his pole lap.
Though Vettel hung on to second, he was disappointed he couldn’t find a little bit more when it counted.
“I’m not so happy with the last run I had in qualifying. I’d like to repeat the second run, just find a little bit. I probably pushed a bit too hard, lost a little bit in sector two, and then I tried a little bit of catch-up,” Vettel said. “It was a good qualifying session, though, (and we were) getting better at the end. At the beginning I was struggling to find a rhythm.”
A Mercedes and a Ferrari will line up on row two of the grid as well, with Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen qualifying third and fourth, respectively.
The Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo comprise row three; with Williams’ Felipe Massa; Force India’s Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon; and Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg completing the top 10.
In his return to F1 following the Indianapolis 500, Fernando Alonso made it to Q2 and qualified 12th.
Full qualifying results can be viewed on the next page…