Hamilton grabs pole Canadian F1 ahead of Kubica

June 8th, 2008 - 4:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Montreal, June 8 (DPA) Lewis Hamilton defied a deteriorating piste as he stormed to the pole position for the Canadian Formula One Grand Prix where he celebrated his first career win last year. Hamilton drove his McLaren-Mercedes around the 4.361-kilometres lap at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in 1 minute 17.886 seconds with time running out in the session here Saturday.

Hamilton stole the pole by more than six tenth of a second - a huge margin in the sport - from Robert Kubica, who clocked 1:18.498 minutes in a BMW a year after a horrific crash on the course.

World champion Kimi Raikkonen placed third in a Ferrari in 1:18.735, with ex-champ Fernando Alonso an impressive fourth while two-time season winner Felipe Massa had to settle for sixth in the second Ferrari.

“It has been a fantastic Saturday for me. I felt at home,” said Hamilton, who posted the best time in all three qualifying rounds.

“In the end I had two laps to pull it out. The first was a shocker but the second felt like last year,” said Hamilton, who was also first on the grid in 2007 en route to his maiden win. “I knew I had to stick it out. The track was chewing up in a few corners, there was loads of debris. But I found a solution for it in the last lap. I thought it was quite a clean lap.

Hamilton’s eighth career pole confirmed McLaren’s comeback from a brief slump, with Hamilton winning his second season race two weeks ago in Monte Carlo.

Kubica, meanwhile, confirmed what he had said all week, that the horror crash last year is no longer on his mind. BMW motorsport chief Mario Theissen simply said after qualifying that “Everybody is talking about the crash, only he isn’t.”

The Pole and his German team are looking for a first career win but Kubica admitted that things will be extremely difficult Sunday just like they were Saturday.

“It was a very difficult qualifying with the track breaking down. It will be a very difficult race, very slippery, easy to do mistakes,” he warned.

Raikkonen also mentioned the deteriorating piste, saying “We had a car to fight for the pole.

“Every year it is the same with the track, it breaks down. It is going to be a nightmare to do 70 laps. I will just try to stay on the circuit,” the Finn said. Sunday’s race is the seventh of the season, with Hamilton, Raikkonen and Massa on two wins each. Hamilton leads the drivers standings with 38 points from Raikkonen (35), Massa (34) and Kubica 32.

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