Vettel wanted his Ferrari under 1:13.00, yesterday. He got it - but only by one-tenth - with a 1:12.990. Good enough to qualify third. Vettel’s time is just .178 behind Lewis in P1. Like the Mercedes and Red Bull cars that Vettel squeezed in-between, the Ferrari driver thinks his car has more. I believe them.

This is looking like a tight-one, and then there’s that forecast.

Vettel had been almost half a second down from Mercedes prior to nailing his final lap of Q3. Earlier in the session it was apparent that Sebastian Vettel was already pushing his car hard. He radioed in to his team that he got just close enough to the outside wall on the last chicane with the wheel to “take the lacquer off the rims.” On the high-speed replay, it looked like a little bit harder of a lick than he had reported - the German’s head could be seen bobbing side-to-side briefly. He, and that car, felt the impact.

Q1 had already knocked out Palmer and Wehrlein. Haryanto was eliminated after he clipped the outside of turn four, flattening his right rear Pirelli not off of the wall of champions. Marcus Erricson, Felipe Nasir, and Kevin Magnussen’s DNS from his practice crash rounded out Q1 eliminations. Q2 would see Carlos Sainz as the first car properly knocked out by Canada’s most popular wall after he reportedly closed his eyes during the last chicane on his first flying-lap of the session. (The cars here do two out-laps from the pits, then a proper attempt at setting at time on what’s called the flying-lap.)

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Keep your eyes open, Carlos - it’s got to be to a better way to avoid the wall of champions by comparison.

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Ricciardo came in to his own second noticeable contact with the aforementioned wall during qualifying, but made the final session count with a 1:13.116 for P4. He won here for Red Bull in 2014, beating his then team mate Sebastian Vettel by a similar margin while qualifying in the same gear. He quieted a few media-driven provocations in regard to his newest team mate after out qualifying rookie Verstappen for the third straight weekend. Verstappen will be keen to show a steady performance at this demanding track in order to even out his wildly varying first two races in a Red Bull thus far with results of 1st and 18th. But, hey - it was Monaco.

Watch for Ricciardo or Vettel to possibly be prone to early gearbox fatigue. There is little intermediate energy absorption between the axles they’ve been stressing under contact with the wall of champions and the differential those axles are connected to. Both cars also are running quicker than we’ve ever seen them move under this era. Lets hope their chassis and cog-sets can take it.

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Both Red Bull and Ferrari have further turbo upgrades pushing more power through their drive-lines this weekend than they had prior to Monaco. While Ferrari were posting the fastest trap speeds on the straights, Honda also brought an upgrade along which gave McLaren’s cars more speed through corners. McLaren-Honda are up 1.5 seconds over last year and that’s a good sign.

Jenson Button made one mistake that cost him Q3 on his final flying lap of Q2. What would be unthinkable five years ago is somehow an advancement for McLaren and Button, having missed qualifying completely for the second in four races at this time last year.

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Esso brought a new fuel that supposedly accounts for 1/10th of a second in itself. Button starts 12th explaining that McLaren haven’t got the room to turn their turbos and other settings up as far in between practice and qualifying as other teams. McLaren Honda’s new turbocharger is markedly quicker in low speed corners from last year according to Fernando Alonso’s comments and results. This turbo is reportedly better and more efficient at harvesting electric energy.

Alonso also advanced from last year’s P14 as he put his MP4/31 on P10 with a 1:14.338 - good enough to best Hamilton’s best (a 1:14.393) P1 quali-run last year. How lately how little needs done to get to P1 in the future is unclear. Carlos Sainz feels Alonso’s spot would have been his if he had just kept his eyes open. Not unreasonable then, Carlos.

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Hamilton takes his 5th pole at Canada and his 53rd overall. Nico Rosberg would error out of contention for P1 on his final attempt to take the position from Lewis. A lock-up on the very first corner basically negated anything Rosberg could do from then on. Hamilton would not best the provisional pole he took at the start of Q3, but he didn’t have to. Mercedes-AMG Petronas as a team would not be bested, locking out the front row with Ferrari and Red Bull sharing the second shelf.

Hamilton was conservative at the last chicane, which features that infamous wall. He felt “there was more” in his Mercedes as well, citing better pace in Saturday’s practice than he had in qualifying. If Rosberg would DNF for any reason and Hamilton should win - the driver’s championship is back under Lewis’ control - just like that. The top four need to get through the first two turns at Canada without incidence.

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Rosberg, Vettel, Ricciardo, and Verstappen round out the top five. Kimi Raikkonen, not particularly pleased with his performance in the hairpin is in sixth. Kimi is in the row just ahead of the Williams cars of Valterri Bottas and Felipe Massa in that order. Nico Hulkenburg put his Force India into P9 for Q3 and behind him is Fernando Alonso’s McLaren, which rounds out results from the final session.

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With the top four cars so close and rain on the weather forecast - we could have a real race on our hands. With the potential for incredible drives, undercuts, overcuts, and the cutting of tires against walls and wings you won’t miss the 2016 Canadian Grand Prix at 1:00 PM on NBC!

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Qualifying Results:

Pos No Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3 Laps
1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:14.121 1:13.076 1:12.812 21
2 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:13.714 1:13.094 1:12.874 19
3 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:13.925 1:13.857 1:12.990 24
4 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:14.030 1:13.540 1:13.166 20
5 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:14.601 1:13.793 1:13.414 24
6 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:14.477 1:13.849 1:13.579 23
7 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams Mercedes 1:14.389 1:13.791 1:13.670 20
8 19 Felipe Massa Williams Mercedes 1:14.815 1:13.864 1:13.769 21
9 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes 1:14.663 1:14.166 1:13.952 23
10 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:15.026 1:14.260 1:14.338 24
11 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:14.814 1:14.317 18
12 22 Jenson Button McLaren Honda 1:14.755 1:14.437 16
13 26 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:14.829 1:14.457 16
14 21 Esteban Gutierrez Haas Ferrari 1:15.148 1:14.571 25
15 8 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:15.444 1:14.803 24
16 55 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:14.714 1:21.956 11
17 30 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:15.459 11
18 94 Pascal Wehrlein MRT Mercedes 1:15.599 9
19 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:15.635 11
20 12 Felipe Nasr Sauber Ferrari 1:16.663 9
21 88 Rio Haryanto MRT Mercedes 1:17.052 9

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