It’s Groundhog day… again. The Canadian Grand Prix is in town, and FP1 brought with it standard fare – clipping of unforgiving Montreal walls, spins into the tricky chicanes, and some furry little critters causing issues for the drivers. Lewis Hamilton topped the session ahead of Valtteri Bottas, almost one second ahead of the Ferraris.
The session was barely ten minutes into its ignition, when FP1 stand-in Nicholas Latifi did well to avoid a groundhog that fancied a walkabout on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Nature’s buddy soon scuttled off to the other end out of harm’s way, and current F2 leader Latifi carried on as before.
Before long, he’d suffer a lock-up at the chicane, while his teammate for the afternoon George Russell was forced to pull back in for the Williams mechanics to fix a loose set of belts in the cockpit. At the other end. Mercedes (who once again talked down their chances around the Montreal circuit) were quick to show they mean business, Bottas leading Hamilton on a 1:13:495 – the exact same as his five-time champion adversary.
Romain Grosjean took his Haas for a spin, but was able to recover and continue his run. Not so lucky was Antonio Giovinazzi, who had a Giovi-nasty accident into turn nine after pirouetting under acceleration out of the corner. His suspension was damaged, and his Alfa Romeo, dangling right rear wheel and all, had to be lifted away.
Max Verstappen confirmed what Ted Kravitz suspected on the Sky feed – that the track was ‘insanely dirty’ – but managed with the terrain well enough to slot into third, on a 1:14:376. Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari topped the speed trap, at 331.3kph, suggesting the Scuderia may be lacking on the corners but do have a healthy amount of power behind them.
Pierre Gasly brushed the Wall of Champions – the first real bit of action the corner’s seen so far – and Sebastian Vettel found the limits of his Ferrari at the Turn 12 hairpin. By the time the chequered flag was out, Hamilton led Bottas on a 1:12:767, with nearest challenger Leclerc 0.953 behind the leading Mercedes. Verstappen brought it home in fourth on a 1:13:755, suggesting Red Bull could once again trap Ferrari in their web, while Vettel led his old teammate Kimi Raikkonen. The rest of the top ten was Sainz, Perez, Ricciardo and Magnussen.
[Featured image – LAT Images]