The throaty roar of an inline-four, the swish of a chequered flag, the camaraderie of riding together, and the legends and their greatest hits.

Montreal Madness: Qualifying Review

By Nikki Grubb-Clarke

Ah Montreal! A track named after one of the greatest drivers never to be the World Driver’s Champion that has offered some absolute STORMERS in the past. Quite literally in 2011, when a 2-hour stoppage due to bad weather gave us the longest race in the whole wide world ever and the win of Jenson Button’s career. And who can forget that horrible Robert Kubica accident of 2007 followed up with him winning in ’08. 2013 is COOOOOLD! Obviously preparing for Silverstone! Rain starts to fall just a few minutes before Qualifying, and the teams haven’t had the practice time they would like. I am grinning like Grinny McGrinster going into Q1!

One thing people are still talking about after Monaco is Cheeky Checo and that move on Kimi that led to Checo’s retirement. Some say Checo should have known Kimi would move over and not made the move. Others say Kimi should have relented. Are we really SO not used to seeing actual racing that we don’t know a racing incident anymore when we see one? Kimi was always going to close the door, but there was a gap. And Checo could see that. And if you no longer go for a gap that exists, then you are no longer a racing driver. I’m sure I’ve heard that somewhere before…

On the other hand, F1’s very own Smiley Giraffe RoGro has gotten into trouble for his ‘Springwatch F1 Mating Ritual’ maneuver. The FIA were not impressed – as weren’t the majority of bemused onlookers, and a 10-place grid penalty was handed down. Simon Lazenby would describe Romain’s driving as ‘hit and miss’. I’d say more hit.

The Ice Man waits. Qualifying session, Canadian Grand Prix. Image courtesy Lotus F1 team (for editorial use only)

The Ice Man waits. Qualifying session, Canadian Grand Prix. Image courtesy Lotus F1 team (for editorial use only)

Q1

Oooo what to do, what to do?!? The rain isn’t that bad and is probably not going to get better so you should go out on slicks and get a ‘banker’ in. Definitely. Oh hang on…Max has tripped over his wallet, and even the Ice Man had a teeny, melty moment. Cue everyone running back in and changing onto inters. As the session progressed, so the rain continued, only lightly, with all the cars out on track, daintily picking their way across the tarmac with more cars going on detours than I could keep up with!

But oo, what’s this? With 5 minutes to go, a dry line was appearing and the times were starting to tumble. Would anyone get brave and have a go with slicks? No. In a word.

However, Paul Di Resta was to have an absolute nightmare and could only manage 17th for the 2nd race in a row. Obviously not using the Force to get out of Q1.

17 Paul Di Resta – Force India

18 Charles Pic – Caterham

19 Romain Grosjean – Lotus *will start 22nd due to grid penalty from Monaco

20 Jules Bianchi – Marussia *will start 19th due to Grosjean penalty

21 Max Chilton – Marussia *will start 20th due to Grosjean penalty

22 Giedo van der Garde – Caterham *will start 21st due to Grosjean penalty

Felipe Massa had a Monaco moment yet again. Image courtesy Ferrari (for editorial use only)

Felipe Massa had a Monaco moment yet again. Image courtesy Ferrari (for editorial use only)

Q2

Very slight rain continued to fall between sessions 1 and 2 and with no cars clearing the line, as the session commenced, the times were far slower than at the end of Q1. Fearing the potential of more rain, all the cars went out once again from the start of the session.  All of a sudden, Bernie’s sprinkler idea doesn’t seem so bad – moist quali is AWESOME!

As conditions continued to deteriorate it became increasingly likely that the early bird would most certainly be worm catching. But the line was being cleared, and so, as if to prove every pundit and forecaster wrong, the times started becoming keener!

Felipe Massa, as if to prove that his crash at Monaco was no fluke, touched the white line going into turn 3, slid sideways and WHAMMO! Straight into the barrier on exactly the same side as last race. Thankfully, Felipe was fine and got out of the car no problem, but many a hug will be needed to smooth things out, I don’t doubt.

With the Ferrari firmly planted in the barrier as if waiting to grow, the session was red flagged to arrange its removal.

With the restart, and only 1 min 59 on the clock, the cars at the end of the pitlane were 3 abreast, and what felt like a Race Start zoomed it out of the pits to get round in time to get a flying lap in.

Button would be the first casualty. With McLaren taking just a stitch too long to service the car, he wasn’t able to get over the line in time to put in a fast lap, and went out of the session. Perez got a lap in, but couldn’t improve into the top 10. McLaren languishing outside the top 10. Again.

*Grits teeth* Stand out performance of the session was from Valterri Bottas who put it 4th. That doesn’t make me happy. I don’t like ‘W’ cars out of Q1, never mind getting into Q3! Thank goodness for Crashtor! He never lets me down. 13th and out. Phew.

11 Nico Hulkenberg – Sauber

12 Sergio Perez – McLaren

13 Pastor Maldonado – Williams

14 Jenson Button – McLaren

15 Esteban Guttierez – Sauber

16 Felipe Massa – Ferrari

Valtteri Bottas made it to 3rd position at Qualifying! How?? Image courtesy Williams F1 team (for editorial use only)

Valtteri Bottas made it to 3rd position at Qualifying! How?? Image courtesy Williams F1 team (for editorial use only)

Q3

With the same conditions, ever changing, all 10 cars came out right from the off. If the practice times were to be believed, we would have the now-familiar scenario of a Mercedes pole. But in these conditions ANYTHING could happen, and the Red Bulls have been kind of handy in these conditions.

Bottas, on his first timed lap, whacks it onto 3rd place. Please don’t make me say anything nice. It hurts.

As the session progressed, the track slowed, and improvements were not to be found. Finger Boy’s early quick lap bringing home the bacon and gaining pole just. Which meant we all got to see the Finger. Ugh.

On the plus side, Lew-Lew continued his love affair with Montreal to take 2nd place – from which he has won in the past, so you never know what might happen. I hope. Please.

1 Sebastian Vettel – Red Bull

2 Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes

3 Valterri Bottas – Williams

4 Nico Rosberg – Mercedes

5 Mark Webber – Red Bull

6 Fernando Alonso – Ferrari

7 Jean-Eric Vergne – Torro Rosso

8 Adrian Sutil – Force India

9 Kimi Raikkonen – Lotus

10 Daniel Ricciardo – Torro Rosso

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