Mercedes pair Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas were nearly a second clear of the rest of the field during the first practice session for the Canadian Grand Prix.
All Mercedes-powered teams are running updated power units this weekend — including internal combustion engine, turbocharger and MGU-H — and the early signs were ominous as Hamilton led the way on a 1m12.767s. With Bottas 0.147s off his teammate, the gap to Charles Leclerc in third was far more significant, with the Ferrari 0.953s adrift in third.
It wasn’t completely smooth sailing for Mercedes and its phase two power unit, however, with Bottas reporting a lot of misfiring late in the session and the team noticing a loss of fuel pressure that forced him to end his session early.
Ferrari also had new parts to test on Friday, with the team introducing a new turbocharger and MGU-H on both cars. From Leclerc down, it was a closely matched field as a further second separated third to 16th on the timing screens. Max Verstappen was just 0.035s off Leclerc, splitting two Ferraris with Sebastian Vettel in fifth.
Verstappen complained about the track being incredibly dirty at the start of the session and Vettel was one of the drivers to fall foul of the conditions as he suffered a spin at the hairpin. Romain Grosjean — 15th at the end of the session — also had a spin at Turn 6, but the biggest incident was caused by Antonio Giovinazzi.
The Alfa Romeo driver lost the rear at Turn 9 and spun on the exit of the chicane, with the left rear corner hitting the wall and causing suspected suspension damage as well as a puncture. Giovinazzi was unable to recover to the pits due to the damage and the Virtual Safety Car was required to recover his car.
Giovinazzi’s teammate Kimi Raikkonen was best of the rest in sixth place, ahead of Carlos Sainz and Daniel Ricciardo in what was an open session behind the top two. Sergio Perez and Kevin Magnussen rounded out the top ten, ensuring eight different teams were represented.
The only teams not to feature in the top 10 were Toro Rosso and Williams, with the former appearing to struggle in the opening session as Daniil Kvyat skipped the final chicane on numerous occasions.
For Williams the bottom two positions are expected, but Formula 2 championship leader Nicholas Latifi made his FP1 debut for the team at his home race and enjoyed a solid outing as he completed 33 laps and was just 0.2s slower than teammate George Russell.