Verstappen leads first Canadian GP practice

Image by Zak Mauger/LAT

Verstappen leads first Canadian GP practice

Formula 1

Verstappen leads first Canadian GP practice

Max Verstappen started the Canadian Grand Prix weekend strongly by beating Lewis Hamilton to the fastest time of first practice in Montreal.

Following a missed opportunity in Monaco two weeks ago, Verstappen bounced back to set the pace in FP1 at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve with a 1m13.302s. On one of the shortest circuits of the season in terms of lap time, Verstappen was just 0.088s clear of championship leader Lewis Hamilton and the Mercedes driver used the ultrasoft compound tire for his fastest lap compared to the hypersoft for both Red Bull drivers.

Daniel Ricciardo was third quickest — 0.216s adrift of his teammate — as Red Bull ran with the updated Renault power unit, while Sebastian Vettel similarly has an upgraded Ferrari and ended up fourth overall.

Valtteri Bottas was fifth ahead of Kimi Raikkonen in sixth as less than half a second covered the top three teams, with only Mercedes not using the hypersoft tire in the opening session.

Perhaps the surprise of the session was Fernando Alonso’s performance in the McLaren, with his lap time of 1m13.900s coming on a used set of ultrasoft tires and leaving him over 0.2s clear of Carlos Sainz in eighth, with his fellow Spaniard the only other driver within a second of Verstappen’s time.

Sainz’s Renault teammate Nico Hulkenberg had a less promising session as he stopped with gear selection issue on the exit of the hairpin early on. While Renault tried to find a solution while Hulkenberg was still in the cockpit, eventually the German had to climb out and the session was suspended while the car was removed. Although Renault got the car back to the garage, removing the gearbox to investigate the issue ended Hulkenberg’s session.

Stoffel Vandoorne was ninth ahead of Pierre Gasly — who also with a Honda power unit upgrade at Toro Rosso — although the gap between the two drivers was some 0.7s.

There were a number of spins on a dirty track, with Sergey Sirotkin swapping ends late in the session and hitting the barrier with his rear wing. The Williams driver was able to limp back to the pits with little obvious damage, but he and home favorite Lance Stroll ended up 17th and 18th respectively.

With Hulkenberg not setting a time, Nicolas Latifi made his FP1 debut for Force India and was 19th quickest overall, 3.8s off the pace and 2.1s slower than teammate Esteban Ocon in the other car.

-Chris Medland

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