Montreal vibrated to the rhythm of Formula 1 for the first time since 2019 on Friday as cars stormed the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve course.
The reigning world champion Max Verstappen dominated each of the two free practice sessions of the day. With a time of 1:15.158 at the wheel of his Red Bull, he initially set the tone for the first session, ignoring the gusts that swept across the circuit under a cloudy sky.
He then did even better with a time of 1:14.127 in the second. Charles Leclerc gave the Red Bull driver just under 81 thousandths of a second but he is penalized 10 places while Carlos Sainz Jr. followed with 0.225 seconds.
Sebastian Vettel surprised everyone a bit with fourth fastest time while Alpine rider Fernando Alonso completed the top five.
For his part, Lance Stroll tested different settings and set the twelfth fastest time, 1.269 seconds behind Verstappen. Lewis Hamilton settled for 13th place on time.
For his part, Toronto’s Nicholas Latifi finished 19th at the wheel of his Williams, more than 2.3 seconds back.
A third free practice session will take place on Saturday, followed by qualifying in the afternoon. Cool weather and temporary rain showers are forecast for this occasion.
The first session
Verstappen fastest in first practice
Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz Jr. was 0.246s behind Verstappen in second place in the first session, while Alpine driver Fernando Alonso surprised by a 0.373 advantage over third place.
Perez and Leclerc completed the top five in turn.
For his part, Stroll tested new components on the rear wing and set the seventh fastest time, 0.719 seconds behind Verstappen. Hamilton drove the eighth fastest time ahead of Vettel.
Toronto native Nicholas Latifi turned 19 in his Williams.
The session was marked by an overheating of the right front brake on Esteban Ocon’s Alpine car, forcing him to pull into the emergency pits after just three laps. The French team said a piece of debris, probably a piece of fabric, was caught in the equipment.
For his part, Japanese rider Yuki Tsunoda hit a guardrail on corner exit in the final part of the session without really causing any damage to his Alpha Tauri. Tsunoda still has to start at the back of the field on Sunday as his team has made an engine change for the weekend.
“We were competitive as a team”
A second free practice takes place later on Friday, followed by a third on Saturday morning and qualifying in the afternoon.
Leclerc and Sainz need to use this to improve their level of performance and they are aware of that. The Monegasque has taken the lead after the last four qualifying sessions, but each time has failed to win the next day.
A trend that has to change, otherwise Red Bull could work out an unassailable lead and turn towards winning the championship on their own.
In Azerbaijan, Ferrari endured another disappointment with a double retirement due to mechanical problems. The Italian team is working on “countermeasures to strengthen the engine package”, she explained, assuring that the situation is “under control”.
Leclerc is currently not penalized on Sunday’s starting grid as he has not – yet – exceeded the number of engine components allowed per season.
That could change if Ferrari decides to give the Monegasque single-seater a 4th turbocharger, which would then take 10 penalty spots.
“No decision has been made at the moment,” Leclerc said on Friday morning, noting that the Canadian circuit wasn’t the worst place for the penalty. “We will talk about it and try to make the best decision. »
For the Japanese Yuki Tsunoda, whose AlphaTauri is equipped with a fourth engine, the ax has already fallen beyond the limit: he will start from the back of the grid on Sunday.
Classification – 1st free practice
Max Verstappen (NED/Red Bull) 1:15.158 (27 laps)
Carlos Sainz Jr. (ESP/Ferrari) 1:15.404 (34)
Fernando Alonso (ESP/Alpine Renault) 1:15.531 (31)
Sergio Perez (MEX/Red Bull) 1:15.619 (32)
Charles Leclerc (MON/Ferrari) 1:15.666 (30)
George Russell (GBR/Mercedes) 1:15.822 (29)
Lance Stroll (CAN/Aston Martin-Mercedes) 1:15.877 (32)
Lewis Hamilton (GBR/Mercedes) 1:15.877 (27)
Sebastian Vettel (GER/Aston Martin-Mercedes) 1:16.041 (33)
Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/McLaren-Mercedes) 1:16.083 (29)
Pierre Gasly (FRA/AlphaTauri-Red Bull) 1:16.165 (29)
Lando Norris (GBR/McLaren-Mercedes) 1:16.211 (17)
Alexander Albon (THA/Williams-Mercedes) 1:16.308 (29)
Yuki Tsunoda (JPN/AlphaTauri-Red Bull) 1:16.322 (33)
Esteban Ocon (FRA/Alpine Renault) 1:16.421 (26)
Valtteri Bottas (FIN/Alfa Romeo) 1:16.426 (27)
Zhou Guanyu (CHN/Alfa Romeo) 1:17.152 (30)
Mick Schumacher (GER/Haas-Ferrari) 1:17.223 (25)
Nicholas Latifi (CAN/Williams-Mercedes) 1:17.241 (33)
Kevin Magnussen (DEN/Haas-Ferrari) 1:17.555 (31)