In Friday’s practice for the Canadian Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton guided George Russell to a Mercedes one-two.
The Mercedes drivers used the fact that they set their quickest times later than the other top drivers to overtake Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz as the early leader.
Russell in Montreal was 0.027 seconds slower than Hamilton.
Fernando Alonso of Aston Martin finished fourth, 0.424 seconds slower than Hamilton, ahead of Charles Leclerc of Ferrari and Max Verstappen of Red Bull.
Three different red-flag stoppages over the course of two sessions ruined the day, and a malfunction with the track’s closed-circuit television system, a crucial component of F1’s safety equipment, ruined the first session.
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Twelve drivers had completed just one flying lap when the first session was called off due to a CCTV issue, and authorities opted to prolong the second session by 30 minutes to 90 minutes so that teams could make up some of the lost track time.
Teams ran programs that varied from one another more than they would have in second practice due to the changed schedule.
Mercedes took a novel strategy by scheduling their qualifying-style laps later in the session and their race simulation runs earlier in the session.
Red Bull appeared to set their fastest laps early in the session, when the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve was moving the slowest, while Ferrari started the session on medium-compound tires before switching to soft ones later.
Verstappen moved at a pace that was unexpectedly slower than usual, and Mercedes moved at a faster pace.
Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas was the seventh-fastest driver, with Sergio Perez of the second Red Bull, Lance Stroll of Aston Martin, and Pierre Gasly of Alpine rounding out the top 10.
The Ferrari and Red Bull drivers, who completed their race runs simultaneously on the medium tyres, gave the best comparison of pace.
They gave Ferrari some optimistic data: throughout a stretch of more than 10 laps, Leclerc was only 0.1 seconds slower than Verstappen. The teammates were better than Sainz and Perez.
It was alright, said Hamilton. Probably the most challenging circuit we have experienced in a while. But it was a bit of an odd day. Missed the opening session and felt terrible for the supporters.
“I enjoy using this course. It’s major. Although the car didn’t feel too horrible, I believe that more work has to be done. Not the worst, but also not the best.
Although it is bouncy, it seems reasonably comfortable. I believe that everyone is struggling with the bumps. We simply need to work on improving our balance and ride control through the bend, and I believe we’ll be fine.
“The automobile is a huge improvement over previous year. Overall, it is a step ahead, and I can obviously feel the gains we made in Monaco, even though the back end is not.
“I don’t think we can read too much into the timings,” Russell remarked. We prepared for low fuel qualifying later in the session when the circuit was faster. It is quite bumpy.
“I believe we are still in last place (among the teams following Red Bull), especially when compared to Ferrari and Aston Martin in terms of qualifying pace.
“Valtteri appeared swift and possibly an Alpine. Yet we are aware that it comes to us on Sunday. Tomorrow is forecast to be rainy. Last year, we did well in qualifying (in the rain). See what it brings, shall we?
Verstappen claimed he “didn’t have a good day” and believed the track was highlighting the few problems Red Bull had with a vehicle that has so far won every race this year.
The world champion stated, “We know our limitations with the vehicle, and maybe with the track as it is currently with the bumps and kerbs it is obviously not suiting our package for now but we will try to find a few improvements.
The day proved challenging for Alpine. When Gasly lost motivation and stopped on the track during the first session, the red flag was raised. The officials subsequently discovered the CCTV issue.
Esteban Ocon, another member of his squad, stopped during the second practice because his engine’s water pressure had dropped.
The other red flag was brought out by the engine failure of Nico Hulkenberg’s Haas on the pit straight.
Rain that had been predicted for both sessions held off for the majority of the day before finally breaking with five minutes left, first in the hairpin near the conclusion of the lap.
It’s predicted to be a sign of things to come on Saturday, when it’s supposed to rain heavily.