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Hamilton equals Senna with sensational Canadian GP pole

Lewis Hamilton took a sensational pole position on Saturday in qualifying for the Canadian Grand Prix and in the process drew level with F1 legend Ayrton Senna with 65 career poles.

Hamilton was in a class of his own throughout the top-ten shootout, initially posting a 1 minute 11.791 second lap, before improving on his second and final run and lowering the marker to a 1m 11.459s, both new track records at Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

In addition to emulating Senna and going joint second on the all-time pole list – just three behind Michael Schumacher – it was also his sixth successive pole in Canada.

“I am so happy,” said the Mercedes driver. “Montreal has been good to me over the years. It was a close battle with Ferrari – they were so quick, as they have been all year, but I was gunning and pushing.

“I have great support out here and I just wanted to give them a good lap and luckily I got it. It was a sexy lap. I can’t believe it came together so well. The first sector was fantastic and I just managed to be a little bit up on each one.

“The team did a fantastic job to learn from our mistakes in the last race and really build up for this race. I owe it all to them – a big thank-you.”

Hamilton was also presented with one of Senna’s race-worn helmets gifted to him by the Senna family to mark the fact he had drawn level with his childhood hero.

“I’m shaken. I’m speechless. Ayrton, I know for many of you he was your favourite driver and it was the same for me. He was the one that inspired me to be where I am today. So to match him and to receive this is the greatest honour. A big, big thank-you to the Senna family and everyone here. God bless you all,” he added.

Meanwhile, Championship leader Sebastian Vettel will start alongside Hamilton on the front row.

Vettel made a mistake on his first run in Q3 and was initially only fourth, before improving and getting to within 0.004secs of Hamilton’s provisional pole lap.

On his third and final effort Vettel managed a 1m 11.789s, but with Hamilton also improving finished up 0.330secs down.

“I am not so happy with the last run I had in quali,” Vettel admitted. “I would love to have repeated the second run and just find a little bit. I think I probably pushed a little bit too hard in Turn 2 [on my final run] and then tried to catch-up.

“It was a good qualifying session though, and getting better at the end. At the beginning I was struggling to find the rhythm.”

Valtteri Bottas will start third in his Mercedes, 0.718secs off Hamilton and 0.388secs off Vettel.

“Lewis had a mega lap today,” Bottas said. “For me, I tried to go faster on the second run but went deep into Turn 10. But well done to Lewis and Seb. Now the race is tomorrow.”

Behind, Kimi Raikkonen was fourth, 0.075secs further back, while Red Bull duo Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo will fill the third row, two tenths or so adrift.

Williams driver Felipe Massa took a very good seventh for Williams, with Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon eighth and ninth for Force India and Nico Hulkenberg tenth for Renault.

Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat ended Q2 in P11, 0.284 secs adrift of a place in Q3 – although he tagged the walls near the end and picked up a puncture.

McLaren Honda driver Fernando Alonso was then 12th – 0.003secs slower, and forced to back off after coming across the limping Russian on his final lap.

Carlos Sainz took 13th in the other Toro Rosso ahead of Romain Grosjean’s Haas and Jolyon Palmer’s Renault.

In Q1, Pascal Wehrlein crashed out on his final flying lap, losing it into Turn 1 and going backwards into the barriers. The Sauber driver was unhurt, but the incident brought out the yellow flags denying a number of drivers in the drop zone a final attempt.

Stoffel Vandoorne finished just on the wrong side of the cusp in his McLaren-Honda – 0.130secs off Sainz and a place in Q2.

Williams rookie and local star Lance Stroll was next up in P17 followed by Haas F1 pilot Kevin Magnussen and the other Sauber of Marcus Ericsson. Wehrelin wound up 20th and slowest.

Full qualifying times available – HERE.

Picture credit: Mercedes

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