Sebastian Vettel put his Red Bull on pole position at the Canadian Grand Prix on Saturday and ended Mercedes’ hopes of a fifth successive start from the top slot.
The triple world champion lapped the wet Montreal street circuit in a fastest time of one minute 25.425 seconds for his third successive pole in Canada.
In a repeat of last year’s qualifying, the German was joined on the front row of the grid by Britain’s 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton – last year’s winner for McLaren and now with Mercedes.
Finnish rookie Valtteri Bottas was third for Williams, the highest grid placing of his career and a major boost for a team without a point in six races so far this season, followed by Monaco winner Nico Rosberg for Mercedes.
Red Bull’s Australian Mark Webber and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso shared the third row.
Lotus’s Kimi Raikkonen, second in the championship behind Vettel, qualified ninth.
Despite his run of poles in Canada, Vettel has yet to win a Formula One race in North America despite his domination elsewhere.
With light rain falling on the track, none of the drivers were able to drive flat out on the slippery Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and used intermediate tyres instead of the faster super-softs.
“It was very, very tricky because you never knew what the conditions were like,” Vettel said.
“We’re extremely happy with the result and looking forward to the race tomorrow. No matter what the conditions, I think we’re in good shape.”
Rosberg had taken pole position for the past three races, with Hamilton fastest in qualifying at the round before that in China, but could not match the Red Bull’s pace.
McLaren failed to make the final phase of qualifying with either of their cars while Ferrari’s Felipe Massa skidded sideways into the tyre wall and starts 16th.