Pierre will start tomorrow’s Canadian Grand Prix from row three of the grid after equalling his best ever grid position of fifth, but there was disaster for Max who was denied a final run in Q2 when Haas’ Kevin Magnussen crashed at Montréal’s Wall of Champions late in the session.
In the opening segment, Ferrari continued to demonstrate the pace they had shown in the earlier final free practice session, and Sebastian Vettel topped Q1 with a time of 1:11.200. That left him 0.014s ahead of teammate Charles Leclerc and 0.029s in front of third-placed Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes.
Max made easy progress to Q2 with a time of 1:11.619, a lap that earned him fifth place behind the second Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton. Pierre spent much of the opening segment in sixth with a lap of 1:12.023, but secure in the knowledge that the time was good enough, the Frenchman, like his team-mate, remained in the garage for the final runs.
As the final times began to come in Pierre dropped steadily down the order as rivals improved. His fall halted at P12, however, and in the end he progressed without drama.
Eliminated, though, were 16th placed Racing Point driver Sergio Pérez ahead of Sauber’s Kimi Räikkönen, the second Racing Point of Lance Stroll and the Williams cars of George Russell and Robert Kubica.
Q2 saw Ferrari and Mercedes send their drivers out on medium tyres. Max then followed suit as the likely front runners looked to start the race on a more durable tyre compound than the softs, which had been subject to heavy graining in the early weekend sessions.
Hamilton ended the opening runs of the second session in first with a time of 1:10.010, which put him eight hundredths of a second clear of teammate Valtteri Bottas and a little over a tenth in front of third-placed Vettel.
Pierre, who was running on soft tyres, slotted into fourth place with a good time of 1:11.196 that put him 0.009s ahead of Leclerc.
Max, though, was in trouble. Both of the Dutchman’s quick laps on medium tyres had been compromised by traffic and in P11 ahead of the final runs he was forced to make the switch to soft tyres for a final attempt.
Given Pierre’s pace, progress should have been assured, but just as Max headed into the final sector Haas’s Kevin Magnussen lost control at the final chicane and hit the Wall of Champions. The Dane bounced across track, hit the opposite wall and scattered debris across the tarmac.
With yellow flags shown (swiftly followed by red) Max’s lap was ruined and he was eliminated in P11 ahead of Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat, Sauber’s Antonio Giovinazzi, the second Toro of Alex Albon and the second Haas of Romain Grosjean. The unfortunate Magnussen made it to Q3 in P10, 0.014s ahead of Max.
In the final top-10 shootout Hamilton claimed provisional position with an impressive time of 1:10.493. That left him a little under two tenths clear of Vettel with Leclerc in third place ahead of Pierre who set a time of 1:11.569.
In the final runs though, Vettel found an extra reserve of pace and powered to pole position and a new track record with a lap of 1:10.240, two tenths of a second ahead of Hamilton. Leclerc took third place but Pierre was edged out of P4 by just nine thousandths of a second by Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo and the Frenchman thus matched his career best grid slot of fifth, established in Bahrain last year.
Pierre’s time was good enough to beat the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas, however, and the Finn will start from sixth ahead of the second Renault of Nico Hulkenberg, McLaren’s Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz.
11 – P11 is Max’s lowest qualifying position since his first outing here in 2015 when he qualified in P12 and started in P19 following penalties.
5 – Pierre will line up in P5 for the second time in his career. He started last year’s Bahrain GP in that position. He qualified fifth in Monaco two weeks ago but started in P8 after a penalty.
Canadian Grand Prix - Qualifying Top 10:
1. Sebastian Vettel
2. Lewis Hamilton
3. Charles Leclerc
4. Daniel Ricciardo
5. PIERRE GASLY
6. Valtteri Bottas
7. Niko Hülkenberg
8. Lando Norris
9. Carlos Sainz
10. Kevin Magnussen