Analysis: How did Vettel secure the pole position?

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Canada, Circuit Gilles Villeneuveca

Ferrari versus Mercedes. In yesterday’s thrilling and entertaining qualifying session, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton were battling it out to secure the pole position for the 2019 Formula One Canadian Grand Prix. At the end of the intense session, the German took his first pole position in 2019.

The sport’s two leading teams, Mercedes and Ferrari showed another great fight for the pole position yesterday as they did the same in Bahrain and Azerbaijan earlier in the year. The analysis shows that the trend regarding the strenghts and weaknesses of their cars, the SF90 and the W10 very much follows the pattern seen across this year. Mercedes is in a league of their own in the corners while Ferrari is a step above everyone on the straights.

At the end of the session, Vettel beat Hamilton by 0.206 seconds. In the first sector, Hamilton set the fastest time with 19.323, beating Vettel by 0.034 seconds and he also went fastest in the middle part of the track with 22.369 compared with Vettel’s best time of 22.427. In the last sector, Vettel pulled a miracle out of the bag by recording the best time of 28.449, beating his rival by 0.234 seconds.

The 4361-meter-long Montreal semi-street circuit features fourteen corners of which three ones are taken flat-out. Turn 5, 11 and 12 are registered as corners, but they are rather curved sections. Hamilton was faster in every single corner except these three curves and Turn 10. The graph shows that Ferrari was faster in the slowest bend of the circuit, in Turn 10, that is the result of Vettel’s incredibly late braking into that hairpin. Interestingly, Vettel’ lowest speed in the hairpin was 59kph while Lewis’ speed dropped to 64kph at the apex of the hairpin.

On their fastest qualifying lap, Vettel registered a top speed of 333.3kph while the fresh, upgraded Mercedes power unit produced a top speed of 327kph. The difference is not totally connected to the outright power of the engines as the Ferrari and Mercedes PUs are said to have the same power, Ferrari's top speed advantage is rather down to the SF90's aerodynamic concept.

Ferrari's low drag setup and strong power unit bring a significant amount of time for the SF90 compared with the W10. Vettel topped the speed trap on the long back straight, he was 2.4kph faster than the Mercedes-powered Racing Point of Sergio Perez. The German also registered the highest speed on the finish line and at the end of the second sector. At the end of Sector 1, he and his team-mate Leclerc set an identical top speed.