Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel was perfectly placed to become the first repeat winner of the Formula One season after taking pole position at the Canadian Grand Prix for the second year running on Saturday.
The double world champion's 32nd career pole, a tally that lifts him level with Britain's Nigel Mansell in the record books and one adrift of F1 greats Alain Prost and Jim Clark, also denied McLaren their 150th. "I think we've learned a couple of lessons from the last few races where we were quick but we didn't get it out of the car in qualifying," grinned the German.
McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, who took the first win of his Formula One career in Canada in 2007, was fastest in Friday practice but had to settle for the second front row slot when it really mattered. A wildly unpredictable season has produced an unprecedented six different winners from the first six races with Vettel triumphant in Bahrain Red Bull have never won in Canada, with Vettel losing out to McLaren's hard-charging Jenson Button on the last lap in a rain-hit epic last year, and his team bosses were determined to rectify that.
"It would be nice. Canada's been a bit of a bogey circuit for me," said Red Bull designer and technical head Adrian Newey. "But it's only qualifying, we've got a long way to go tomorrow." A technical rule change after the last race had also raised a question mark over their car but any hopes rivals might have had of a drop in performance soon vanished.
Vettel was quick in all three qualifying sessions at the sunny Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and took pole with a best lap of one minute, 13.784 seconds. "I think it's not just a hole in the floor that makes the difference. It was a bit of a shame that it was declared legal and then illegal but in the end we never feared a big impact on the performance of the car," said Vettel.
"We've had a fantastic weekend so far," he continued. "Last year's race, last lap, in that moment it hurt a little bit because victory was so close but it was a tough race and easy to make mistakes. "It is 2012 now but of course it would be nice, it is a nice track, a nice atmosphere it would be a great race to win." Hamilton, a two-time winner in Canada, clocked 1:14.087.
Ferrari's championship leading Spaniard Fernando Alonso was third fastest and will line up alongside the second Red Bull of Australian Mark Webber, who will be looking to follow-up his win in Monaco with a victory in Canada. Nico Rosberg was fifth for Mercedes and will be joined on the third row by Ferrari's Brazilian driver Felipe Massa.