Canadian Grand Prix polesitter Sebastian Vettel has issued an early warning to his F1 rivals: expect Red Bull to be a factor whatever the conditions on race day.
The German claimed a third straight pole position at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in a persistently damp, and occasionally wet, qualifying hour but, in recent years, has struggled on race day. Red Bull has yet to win in Montreal, a fact many attribute to its lack of straight-line speed when compared to others, but Vettel is confident that the RB9 has the potential to end that statistic.
“I am extremely happy with the result and looking forward to the race tomorrow,” he claimed, having waved that infamous finger for the first time on a Saturday since Malaysia, “I think we had strong pace yesterday, so no matter what the conditions we should be in decent shape.”
Vettel had to have his wits about him throughout the three phases of qualifying, as conditions switched rapidly between damp, nearly dry and fully wet. The wet surface may have masked any pace deficiencies the RB9 may have inherited from its predecessors, but the German accepted that there had been an element of fortune in his success.
“It was very tricky today, especially as you never knew what the conditions were going to be like the next time you went out,” he confirmed, “It was intermediate tyres throughout, but it was extremely difficult to adapt as the conditions were constantly changing.
“In the last qualifying session, we decided to have two runs. [and] we thought the second would be quicker, as we had a new set of tyres for that. But it started to drizzle in the last sector, in particular in the chicane. I went straight on there on one lap and, on the second, I had a mistake somewhere else, so it turned out that the first run was the important one. I'm happy the lap was good enough, as it was tight with Lewis [Hamilton].”
Indeed, Hamilton came within eight-hundredths of extending Mercedes' pole run to five races, but will have to come from second spot if he is to extend his roll of victories at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and, in turn, extend Red Bull's drought.
Vettel is obviously best placed to close off one of the holes in RBR's success record, with team-mate Mark Webber only fifth fastest, despite topping the morning's final practice session in similar conditions.
“It's a bit of a mixed grid and I would have liked to have been a bit more comfortable than fifth,” he sighed, “There's a long way to go tomorrow, so let's see how it unfolds.”
With the forecast uncertain for Sunday, Webber and co may have to battle, not only with the conditions, but also a dearth of intermediate rubber, as most seemed content to burn through their supply in search of a decent grid slot.
”Dry conditions tomorrow are nicer for everyone as it makes it a bit more predictable and straightforward, and visibility here isn't great here if it rains,” the Australian acknowledged, “It should be an interesting grand prix.”