Race Weekend Central

F1: Sebastian Vettel Scores His First Pole of 2018

The Ferraris had looked strong in practice, topping the timing charts in both FP2 and 3.  Even if they benefited from Lewis Hamilton crashing out during that second practice, they were still managing to keep up with their Mercedes rivals.  

Perhaps Mercedes were nervous, or perhaps Ferrari just have a car better suited for Canada, but it doesnʻt matter the reason: Sebastian Vettel will start from pole, clearing Hamilton by two-tenths.  It is his first P1 starting position since Germany of last year.

The second Ferrari driver, Charles Leclerc, finds himself in third, a pleasant rebound from the disastrous qualifying effort he had last race in Monaco.  His result also establishes Ferrari as the team to beat for the Canadian Grand Prix, a rare situation for the team this year.

Perhaps the big shock of qualifying is that Daniel Ricciardo will begin the race from fourth.  Since his switch to Renault this season, his results have been fair to middling and a performance like this one is sure to buoy both Ricciardo and the team.  

Pierre Gasly follows Ricciardo on the grid with Valtteri Bottas positioned in sixth after a spin in Q3 kept him from maximizing what his Mercedes could give him.  Nico Hulkenberg, the McLaren duo of Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz, took the next three positions with Kevin Magnussen rounding out the top ten.

The drama of qualifying is usually left to last-second runs, as drivers try to eke in, or during the final stint, steal the pole.  Kevin Magnussen made sure to change the narrative as he crashed coming out of the final turning near the end of the second qualifying period.  His crash, oddly enough, still gave him a time to push him to Q3 but also frustrated a number of drivers on flying laps.

One of the notable names to be caught out and unable to improve his time was Max Verstappen, who will start the race from 11.  


Canadian driver Lance Stroll lost his Mercedes engine and will now be reverting to an older engine.  The engineʻs fiery demise came on the installation lap and will be a serious cause for concern for Mercedes as Stroll was using the new Phase 2 engine in his Racing Point ride.  

The engine was making its debut in Canada and the failure may dissuade Mercedes from running the engine at full song for the remainder of the weekend.  Though the incident may have Mercedes on edge, Hamilton was still able to show that Mercedes arenʻt far behind even as they play things cautiously.


Lewis Hamilton had been cruising during the second practice of the weekend, holding nearly a one-second advantage over the Ferraris while on medium tyres.  His performance surprised no one as Mercedes looked as though they were in their usual comfort position that they have sat in all season. Then Hamilton switched to soft tyres.

In a rare mistake, Hamilton lost the backend of his car in turn 8/9 and banged the wall, causing a puncture and forcing him to limp home with a puncture.  The incident kept him out of the remainder of the practice and allowed the Ferraris to steal the show.

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas put himself atop the time chart but Sebastian Vettel soon beat him by about half-a-tenth, with Charles Leclerc then besting his teammate by another half-tenth.  

Hamilton wasnʻt the only one to have a meet-and-greet with the wall as Max Verstappen also made contact and ended his session after 22 laps.  

McLarenʻs Carlos Sainz found himself in an unlikely fourth with Haas driver Kevin Magnussen in fifth.  The Racing Point and Renault drivers filled the next four spots after Hamiltonʻs time put him in sixth.  


Mercedes started strong as F1 began its annual visit to Canada, with the organization seeing both of their drivers at the top of timing grid.  Ferrari, however, were doing a better job of nipping at their heels then they have been doing.

This track should be one that really suits Ferrari and their powerplant, even more as both drivers gained new turbos and MGK-U elements to their engines.  They will be forced to reckon with Mercedes employing their Phase 2 engine that will be debuting in Canada.

The Race

The Canadian Grand Prix began in 1961 and has been held at three different tracks.  Since 1978, the series has used the Circuit Ile Notre Dame – Gilles Villenueve course, though there have been some modifications over the years.  The 2.7 mile long track features 13 or 14 turns, depending on who you talk to, while also having long straights where drivers pass the 200 MPH mark. There are three DRS zones, where the drivers can get a gain an aerodynamic advantage but passing is still difficult like it is at most tracks.  Michael Schumacher, no surprise here, holds the all-time wins record with seven, while Lewis Hamilton’s six wins lead active drivers. Vettel won last year’s race though Hamilton won the previous three.

The race can be found on ABC at 8:10 AM, EST.

About the author

As a writer and editor, Ava anchors the Formula 1 coverage for the site, while working through many of its biggest columns. Ava earned a Masters in Sports Studies at UGA and a PhD in American Studies from UH-Mānoa. Her dissertation Chased Women, NASCAR Dads, and Southern Inhospitality: How NASCAR Exports The South is in the process of becoming a book.

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