Lewis Hamilton was at a loss to explain why the strong pace he had shown during Canadian Grand Prix practice fell away in qualifying as his Mercedes team-mate George Russell took pole.  

The seven-time world champion set a stunning pace to top final practice at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve earlier on Saturday and appeared to be joint-favourite with Russell for pole going into the final part of qualifying.

However, after sitting second on the timesheet behind Russell after the first runs in Q3, Hamilton was unable to improve and ended up a hugely disappointing seventh.

“The car was feeling great all weekend and as soon as we got to qualifying, that kind of vanished for me,” Hamilton told Sky Sports F1.

“The grip just disappears for me. P3, I had plenty of pace in me, and then get to qualifying and the tyres won’t work.

“Nothing had changed on the car.”

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Highlights of qualifying for the Canadian Grand Prix

Russell now holds an 8-1 advantage over Hamilton in qualifying this season, which is the 39-year-old’s last with the team before he joins Ferrari next year.

Mercedes have been off the pace of Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren during the opening eight rounds of the seasons, but upgrades have finally put them in a position to challenge the leading trio, at least at certain circuits.

Hamilton added: “Congratulations to George for a great job. It’s really great for the team.

“Obviously, everyone has worked so hard to bring upgrades back at the factory, so this will be a real huge boost for everyone back at the factory.”

Wolff: We can’t comprehend it

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff admitted that he was also confused as to why Hamilton struggled at the end of the session.

While Russell also failed to improve on his first Q3 time, hanging on to pole by virtue of having set an identical time to Verstappen before the Dutchman, Hamilton’s drop-off on the second run was far more significant.

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Karun Chandhok is at the SkyPad to analyse where George Russell gained time on his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton as he sealed pole in Canada

“It seemed that Lewis was actually having the upper hand and both cars comfortably beating everyone,” Wolff told Sky Sports F1.

“And then at the end, it got so tight, also for George, and Lewis – the time didn’t show up.

“We can’t comprehend at the moment why it wasn’t a little bit more in our favour.”

Hamilton will start behind the all-McLaren second row of Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri, along with RB’s Daniel Ricciardo in fifth and Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso in sixth.

Sky Sports F1’s live Canadian GP schedule

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A look back at some of the most dramatic moments from the Canadian Grand Prix

Sunday June 9
5.30pm: Grand Prix Sunday – Canadian GP build-up
7pm: THE CANADIAN GRAND PRIX
9pm: Chequered Flag – Canadian GP reaction
10pm: Ted’s Notebook

Formula 1 is on Montreal for the Canadian Grand Prix and you can watch every session at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve this weekend live on Sky Sports F1, with Sunday’s race at 7pm. Stream every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership – No contract, cancel anytime