MONTREAL - Lewis Hamilton claimed pole position for Sunday's Canadian Grand Prix with the fastest lap ahead of Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg in a close fight in qualifying on Saturday.

The defending three-time world champion, who revived his title defence with victory at last month's Monaco Grand Prix, clocked a best lap in one minute and 12.812 seconds, quicker than the championship-leading German by 0.062 seconds.

Both men were unable to improve their times on their final runs in the top-ten shootout but their earlier efforts were enough for them to lock out the front row for Mercedes again. It was the 53rd pole of Hamilton's career and his fifth at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and gives him a good chance of reducing Rosberg's 24-point lead in the title race.

"It was a bigger gap in practice yesterday," said Hamilton. "I didn't have the same pace today, but I felt there was definitely more time in it for me. It's close between us and Ferrari, so it's great for the fans." Rosberg abandoned his final lap after making an error and locking up at Turn One. "I was hoping you didn't see that one!" he joked. "I wanted to pull one out of the bag but just couldn't do it, but we had another great team result."

Four-time champion Sebastian Vettel was third for Ferrari ahead of Australian Daniel Ricciardo and his Red Bull team-mate Dutch teenager Max Verstappen with Kimi Raikkonen taking sixth place on the grid in the second Ferrari. The two Williams of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa were seventh and eighth ahead of Nico Hulkenberg of Force India and two-time champion Fernando Alonso of McLaren. "I tried guys, I tried," said Vettel on team radio. "Lost a bit of traction out of the hairpin, but not enough, not enough."

On a cloudy and cool day, with an air temperature of 15 degrees Celsius, and rain forecast, qualifying began with the two Mercedes and both Ferraris leading the way out of the pits for Q1. Rosberg was swiftly on the pace to lead the way ahead of Hamilton and then Vettel as after a warmer spell, drizzle threatened. Rio Haryanto's hopes ended when he hit a wall as he came out of the first chicane in his Manor, almost breaking the right rear wheel free as he suffered a puncture before spinning across the circuit to hit the wall opposite.

Out with the Indonesian went both Saubers, Pascal Wehrlein in the second Manor and both Renaults, Kevin Magnussen having crashed in final free practice during the morning. The second session began dramatically with red flags waved almost immediately when Carlos Sainz scraped into the so-called 'wall of champions' at the exit of the final chicane.

It was a double impact as he scrambled for control on the grass and ended his participation before any of the major contenders had left the pits.  Only five drivers had clocked times at this stage with Kvyat leading Hulkenberg on the monitors. When Q2 re-started, only 10 minutes remained. Almost immediately, after both Williams men had briefly gone top, Hamilton and Rosberg took over. Under pressure, Ferrari struggled to match them.

In a final flurry, Alonso and Hulkenberg squeezed through in 10th and ninth to eliminate their team-mates Jenson Button and Sergio Perez along with Daniil Kvyat of Toro Rosso, Esteban Gutierrez and his Haas team-mate Romain Grosjean and Sainz.

"If there's a wall, you don't mind, so much, hitting it if it is the world champions' wall," said Sainz. Seeking his fifth pole, as well as a fifth win, in Canada, Hamilton was first man out and then lapped in 1:12.812 to set the pace. Rosberg was 0.062 seconds slower on his first run, Verstappen, six-tenths down, easing to third ahead of Vettel and Ricciardo.

"I think I brushed the wall of champions, just enough to take the lacquer of the wheels, but the car is alright," said Vettel, cool, calm and collected as the final countdown, and the final laps, loomed.