Hamilton storms to pole

Championship leader over half-a-second quicker than next best

Lewis Hamilton has taken pole position for the Canadian Grand Prix after dominating qualifying in Montreal.

The World Championship leader was quickest in each of the three qualifying sessions and eventually secured top slot with a time of one minute 17.866 seconds around the 2.71-mile Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

Hamilton had set the quickest time in both of the earlier knockout sessions and it was little surprise when he went quickest again in the final session with a 1:18.510s effort.

But BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica then responded with a 1:18.498s, pushing the Pole to the top of the timesheets as Hamilton began his final flying lap.

However, the McLaren Mercedes star's riposte was stylish one: Hamilton crossing the finishing line to set a time over six-tenths-of-a-second quicker than Kubica, in the process recording his second successive pole at the venue.

World Champion Kimi Raikkonen was third quickest in his Ferrari, ahead of Renault's Fernando Alonso, with Williams driver Nico Rosberg fifth quickest.

Ferrari's Felipe Massa qualified sixth ahead of McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen, with BMW Sauber's Nick Heidfeld eighth.

Honda's Rubens Barrichello starts ninth, ahead of Red Bull's Mark Webber, who was unable to set a time in the top 10 shoot-out after hitting a wall at the end of the second session.

Hamilton went quickest in the opening 20-minute session, his time of 1:16.909s being over two-tenths quicker than Massa.

However, it was a different story for Jenson Button, who has been struggling with the handling of his Honda throughout the weekend.

The loss of third gear compounded his woes during qualifying and Button could only manage a time of 1:23.565s - over six seconds off Hamilton's pace.

Button therefore joins Sebastien Bourdais, Adrian Sutil, Giancarlo Fisichella and Sebastian Vettel at the back of the grid, the latter failing to set a time after an accident in morning practice.

With Hamilton again quickest in the second session with a 1:17.034s, Heidfeld appeared destined to be a surprise omission from the top-10 shootout before, on his final flying lap, he went eighth quickest overall.

Alonso showed his double World Championship-winning credentials with the fourth quickest time (1:17.488s), his rookie team-mate Nelson Piquet Jr. in contrast slowest of all 15 runners and joining Timo Glock, Kazuki Nakajima, David Coulthard and Jarno Trulli in the drop zone.

Track problems

Webber was a victim of the track surface which appeared to be breaking up at several points around the circuit, particularly around the newly-resurfaced hairpin.

With the little-used track tending to lack grip off the racing line, the Canadian Grand Prix has a habit of catching out drivers and producing safety car interruptions.

And, assuming the surface continues to deteriorate over the course of Sunday's 70-lap race, it can be anticipated that this year's grand prix will be no different.

Canadian Grand Prix, qualifying:

1. Lewis Hamilton (Britain) McLaren 1:17.886
2. Robert Kubica (Poland) BMW Sauber 1:18.498
3. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Ferrari 1:18.735
4. Fernando Alonso (Spain) Renault 1:18.746
5. Nico Rosberg (Germany) Williams 1:18.844
6. Felipe Massa (Brazil) Ferrari 1:19.048
7. Heikki Kovalainen (Finland) McLaren 1:19.089
8. Nick Heidfeld (Germany) BMW Sauber 1:19.633
9. Rubens Barrichello (Brazil) Honda 1:20.848
10. Mark Webber (Australia) Red Bull 1:17.523
11. Timo Glock (Germany) Toyota 1:18.031
12. Kazuki Nakajima (Japan) Williams 1:18.062
13. David Coulthard (Britain) Red Bull 1:18.238
14. Jarno Trulli (Italy) Toyota 1:18.327
15. Nelson Piquet (Brazil) Renault 1:18.393
16. Sebastien Bourdais (France) Toro Rosso 1:18.916
17. Adrian Sutil (Germany) Force India 1:19.108
18. Giancarlo Fisichella (Italy) Force India 1:19.165
19. Jenson Button (Britain) Honda 1:23.565
20. Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Toro Rosso no time