Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel won an intense battle to take pole position for the Canadian Grand Prix, with title rival Lewis Hamilton only fourth.
Vettel edged Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas by 0.093 seconds as Red Bull’s Max Verstappen sneaked ahead of Hamilton with his final lap.
Hamilton was unusually out of sorts on a track at which he has excelled so many times, and a series of mistakes left him struggling to keep up.
He was 0.232secs off the pace.
Vettel’s team-mate Kimi Raikkonen was fifth, slipping down from third on the first runs after blowing his final lap with an error in running wide on the exit of Turn Two. The second Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo was sixth.
Vettel, who is 14 points behind Hamilton in the championship and has a great chance to make up ground, said: “Yesterday we were a bit in trouble and I just couldn’t get the rhythm, but today it switched on and what a day.
Hamilton was struggling throughout qualifying, despite looking strong through most of the weekend, but he surely will not have expected to end up down in fourth on a circuit at which he has taken six wins and six poles in 10 events, nor to be beaten by a team-mate for only the second time in his career here.
The world champion was third in first qualifying, fifth in second qualifying, and fourth after the first runs in the top 10 shootout.
He locked his brakes at the hairpin on both his laps in the final session, and on his first could be seen struggling for traction out of it as well, and he ended up 0.139secs slower than Bottas.
Mercedes’ decision to choose the fewest number of hyper-soft tyres for this weekend out of all the teams may have contributed as neither driver had tried them until Saturday morning, but Hamilton cannot blame only that as Bottas ended up on the front row.
“We had a car today that probably could have been on pole and I didn’t put it on pole. I’m not frustrated. Maybe disappointed in myself. But these things happen. You can’t always get it perfect.”