Six tenths of a second. That’s the advantage Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes reckon Ferrari have on the straights, so powerful is their engine. That speed helped Sebastian Vettel guide his SF90 to pole position in the Canadian Grand Prix and despite losing out and taking second, Lewis Hamilton wasn’t too downbeat…
Reigning five-time world champion Hamilton ended up two tenths of a second adrift of Vettel in qualifying, with Charles Leclerc third in the other Ferrari and Hamilton’s team mate Valtteri Bottas down in sixth. It came off the back of a strong showing from Ferrari in second and final practice in Montreal.
“I’m not surprised,” said Hamilton of Ferrari’s performance. “I think obviously all weekend they’ve had really great pace and for a large part of it they were six tenths up on the straights. So we fought so hard throughout the weekend to make improvements.
“I’m actually really happy for Seb, he clearly did a really great lap. My first lap was really good and it felt great for a second to be on pole, particularly as I missed all of P2 yesterday, so quite far behind starting today but it’s been a real solid day from us.
“Obviously the last sector [which features Canada’s long straight] – I think you can now start writing that they have the party mode. I don’t know who said we had the party mode in the beginning. The end-of-straight speed was particularly where we lost out in the last sector but nonetheless hopefully the race will be close. It’s great to be able to split the Ferraris, so hopefully we’ll have a close battle tomorrow.”
Ferrari’s anticipated title challenge has failed to materialise so far this season, the Prancing Horse scoring just four podiums as Mercedes have romped to six straight wins, the first five or which were one-twos. It means Mercedes lead Ferrari by 118 points in the constructors’ championship.
But in Canada, on a circuit that was expected to suit Ferrari, the Scuderia have looked threatening – and that’s something that Hamilton is excited for.
“I think this is fantastic for the sport,” said Hamilton. “I love to fight with another team and today it was just so close. I had no idea where we were going to be; at some stages they were ahead of us and we were swapping all the way.
“I hope this is a turning point for them and this is going to be very close from now on and we get to have a really serious battle throughout the season. That’d be fantastic.”