Sunday, June 7, 2015

#44 Scores 44th Career Pole: Hamilton Starting at Front for Canadian GP

Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG

For the first time in the 2015 Formula 1 season, the cars and drivers of the premier open wheel series have landed on North American soil. Completing at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on the outskirts of Montreal, Formula 1 teams ready for the 2015 Canadian Grand Prix for what is a 70-lap test consisting of fast stretches and hard braking corners.

Following the first leg of the European tour, many teams have come to realizations regarding their 2015 race packages. Teams such as Ferrari and McLaren-Honda has openly admitted to making enhancements to their power units over the time period between the Monaco Grand Prix and this week's race in Canada. In the quest to draw closer to Mercedes AMG's Silver Arrows, Saturday's qualifying would be the first full-bore test in competition to see where the refreshed race vehicles stand.

Since the start of the race weekend in Canada, more than one Mercedes-Benz powered team has been grabbing attention at the top of the time sheets. While the Mercedes AMG duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg has been at the top of the leaderboards through three practice sessions ahead of qualifying, there was some surprise seeing the Lotus F1 Team hovering inside the top-five. Drivers Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado appeared to be a match against the immediate teams of Ferrari, Williams and Red Bull Racing. In two sessions, Grosjean was recorded as third fastest on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. In the Q1 session leading qualifying, Romain Grosjean was able grab the top spot. With the aid of Pirelli Supersoft tires, the Lotus-Mercedes clipped-off a 1-minute, 15.833-second lap time just narrowly beating Nico Rosberg's time.

While the top of the Q1 grid showed an amusing development when time expired, the lower part of the first timed session was also striking. The only driver able to break the Mercedes AMG's winning mode in 2015, Sebastian Vettel encountered troubles with his Ferrari. An electrical problem said to have robbed Vettel of a decent run in qualifying. Out of the running in qualifying after Q1 with a 16th fastest time, Ferrari has elected to fix the power unit on Sebastian Vettel's SF15-T race car resulting in a two-position demotion on the starting grid for Sunday's main event. Slower than Vettel was the former Ferrari driver Felipe Massa. Driving Williams-Mercedes, Massa also dealt with a loss of power in preventing him from advancing beyond Q1.

Following Q1 at the 2015 Canadian Grand Prix, the Mercedes AMG decided to take a more affirmative role in Saturday's time trials. Lewis Hamilton came to life and charged to top times in Q2 as well as the final Q3 session to grab pole on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Lapping the track with a 1-minute, 14.393-second effort, Hamilton secured his 44th career pole position in Formula 1 (matching his current car number). Hamilton's Mercedes AMG was 0.309 seconds faster than the car of teammate Nico Rosberg. Last year, the Canadian Grand Prix proved to be an Achilles heel to Mercedes AMG. Issues with the hybrid powertrain took Lewis Hamilton out of the event while Nico Rosberg experienced similar problems but salvaged a second-place finish.

In contrast to Sebastian Vettel's problems with his Ferrari, Kimi Raikkonen delivered his strongest qualifying effort in a long time. Starting third, the 2007 Formula 1 World Champion has been enjoying an improved 2015 season with Ferrari after Raikkonen's miserable 2014 return to the team. Joining Raikkonen on the second row for the Canadian Grand Prix is Valtteri Bottas's Williams-Mercedes. In the previous two events on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Bottas has qualified third and fourth. 

The third row for the 2015 Canadian Grand Prix will consist of both Lotus F1 Team vehicles. Romain Grosjean found the edge over Pastor Maldonado for the inside grid position. While a victory for the Lotus F1 Team may be a longshot on Sunday, Mercedes-Benz power and an improved race car for 2015 could lead to the potential that the team could again compete for podiums. Never in the Canadian Grand Prix's history under Formula 1 has a Lotus team vehicle won. 

Also of note, Max Verstappen qualified 12th for the Canadian Grand Prix but will be starting Sunday's race at the back-end of the field. After incurring a grid position penalty after a ruling made following the Monaco Grand Prix, Verstappen's Toro Rosso team was penalized an addition 10 grid positions for installing a new Renault powerplant in his race car. Additionally to a 20th place starting spot (the deepest position possible for the 2015 Canadian Grand Prix, Verstappen will also have to spend 10 seconds in the pits during Sunday's race.

The 2015 Canadian Grand Prix will start at 2pm local time in the Eastern time zone.



2015 Formula 1

Canadian Grand Prix

Starting Grid

Pos # Car # Driver Team Engine

1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
2 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
3 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari
4 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams F1 Renault
5 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus Mercedes-Benz
6 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus Mercedes-Benz
7 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes-Benz
8 26 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull Renault
9 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Renault
10 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes-Benz
11 55 Carlos Sainz Jr Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault
12 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari
13 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda
14 12 Felipe Nasr Sauber Ferrari
15 19 Felipe Massa Williams Mercedes-Benz
16 98 Roberto Merhi Manor Marussia Ferrari
17 28 Will Stevens Manor Marussia Ferrari
18 22 Jenson Button McLaren Honda
19 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari Ferrari
20 33 Max Verstappen Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault

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