Honda's - and specifically Jenson Button's - lot did not improve much between free practice and qualifying at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, the Briton unable to haul the troubled RA108 into the second knock-out phase.

Prevented from falling to the very back of the grid by the absence of Sebastian Vettel, who crashed in FP3 and missed qualifying completely, Button again registered only 19th spot in the opening session and was unable to improve in the closing moments after the team spotted a gearbox problem, telling him to pit.

As it happened, there was little movement in the critical areas in the final five minutes, with drivers only marginally improving their times but not gaining any positions. As a result, both Force India's - with Adrian Sutil heading Giancarlo Fisichella - and Sebastien Bourdais all joined Button and Vettel in the bottom five despite lowering their best lap mark.

That meant that under-fire Nelson Piquet Jr survived to make it into Q2 - something he may not have done had Vettel been on track. The Brazilian ended the session in 15th, having been ninth in FP3, but was close enough to Timo Glock and Rubens Barrichello to suggest that he may be able to improve.

Lewis Hamilton set the pace on a multi-lap run mid-session, but came close to shaving the turn six wall that had claimed Vettel on his best lap. Felipe Massa, Heikki Kovalainen and Kimi Raikkonen packed in behind the Briton, with Fernando Alonso completing the top five.



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