Canadian GP: Hamilton fastest in Montreal first practice

Lewis Hamilton put the disappointment of Monaco behind him by setting the pace in the opening free practice session for this weekend’s Candian Grand Prix in Montreal.

The day started damp at the high-speed Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, but the surface had dried for a fully meaningful 90 minutes of practice action.

Hamilton, who leads Rosberg by just 10 points in the drivers' championship, set the first quick lap of the session at 1m17.734s. He then suffered a big slide turning into Turn 1, but caught it beautifully.

Hamilton lowered the bar to 1m17.530s as the track evolved. Rosberg topped that with a 1m17.105s, before Hamilton replied with 1m16.608s. Rosberg's next-best effort was 1m16.860s, and he then visited the run-off inside the apex of Turn 4. Hamilton subsequently did likewise at Turn 9.

After the first half an hour, Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel was third fastest, 1.3s down on the pace with Romain Grosjean's Lotus close behind. Vettel had an early moment at the hairpin when he locked up and almost hit Roberto Merhi's Manor.

Grosjean rose to third on his second set of soft-compound tyres, as the Mercedes duo also tried to lower their times. Rosberg did so, working down to 1m16.627s, but Hamilton's bid to improve ended in a strange spin under power at the hairpin having set the fastest first sector time.

After recovering from his spin, Hamilton lowered the fastest time to 1m16.212s – which remained the fastest of the session – although reported a problem with his gearbox upshifts.

Rosberg was slower by 0.415s, while Grosjean's best time in third was 1.5s off the pace, ahead of the impressive Force India of Nico Hulkenberg and Vettel.

Felipe Massa was sixth fastest for Williams, making it five Mercedes-powered cars in the top six.

Daniil Kvyat was the top Renault engine in seventh, his Red Bull ahead of Pastor Maldonado (Lotus) and Fernando Alonso (McLaren). Monaco bad boy Max Verstappen – who has a five-place grid penalty this weekend – progressively lowered his times on his first visit to Canada and rounded out the top 10.

Kimi Raikkonen was a lowly 12th in the second Ferrari, despite the engine upgrades that the team has brought to Montreal.

Button blighted by problems

Jenson Button's day started badly, when his McLaren became stuck in second gear on his installation lap due to an electronics glitch. The problem returned on his first run, so he lost a good chunk of time while it was rectified.

Carlos Sainz Jr spun at Turn 1, losing control of the rear-end of his Toro Rosso without hitting anything, and then suffered a problem that caused his car to cut-out at the end of the pitlane. Valtteri Bottas also spun his Williams, this time between Turns 5 and 6.

Another odd occurrence during the session was in the pitlane, where carpet staples from a pre-race weekend event had to be removed from the track surface by marshals while cars were coming into the pits.

The rain threat increases for the second session this afternoon, but it is expected to be dry for the start – which means teams will save their supersoft tyres until then.

Pos  Driver   Team   Time   Gap  Laps 
 Lewis Hamilton  Mercedes 1:16.212   34
 Nico Rosberg  Mercedes 1:16.627 0.415 38
 Romain Grosjean  Lotus 1:17.721 1.509 35
 Nico Hulkenberg  Force India 1:17.871 1.659 34
 Sebastian Vettel  Ferrari 1:17.905 1.693 25
 Felipe Massa  Williams 1:17.985 1.773 28
 Daniil Kvyat  Red Bull 1:18.021 1.809 30
 Pastor Maldonado  Lotus 1:18.026 1.814 41
 Fernando Alonso  McLaren 1:18.128 1.916 34
10   Max Verstappen  Toro Rosso 1:18.257 2.045 24
11   Valtteri Bottas  Williams 1:18.325 2.113 40
12   Kimi Raikkonen  Ferrari 1:18.439 2.227 26
13   Sergio Perez  Force India 1:18.503 2.291 28
14   Daniel Ricciardo  Red Bull 1:18.775 2.563 24
15   Jenson Button  McLaren 1:18.786 2.574 25
16   Felipe Nasr  Sauber 1:18.948 2.736 30
17   Carlos Sainz Jr.  Toro Rosso 1:19.065 2.853 23
18   Marcus Ericsson  Sauber 1:19.165 2.953 32
19   Roberto Merhi  Marussia 1:20.616 4.404 33
20   Will Stevens  Marussia 1:20.624 4.412 27

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Event Canadian GP
Track Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve
Drivers Lewis Hamilton , Nico Rosberg
Teams Mercedes
Article type Practice report