Montreal Practice 2: Hamilton owns day one with Ferrari duo in the hunt
8 June, 2012
Jun.8 (Apex) Lewis Hamilton ended day one of the Canadian Grand Prix weekend unbeaten, topping the timing sheets at the end of both the morning and afternoon free practice sessions on a day which threatened rain but in the end offered nearly a full three hours of running – apart for a couple of red flags. The teams used the day as a defacto test day. The fabled ‘wall of champions claimed yet another victim, albeit not quite a champion who succumbed to the attractive power of that famed piece of concrete.
Hamilton’s best time of 1 minute 15.259 in FP2 was the fastest of the day, which was one of mixed fortunes for McLaren as Jenson Button was dogged by limited running due to an oil leak which necessitated a gearbox change and severely curtailed his track time. Nevertheless he did manage to get out for about 20 minutes (14laps) at the end of the afternoon session and set the ninth best time in the process. The MP4-27 clearly a handy weapon around Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
After a morning session spent experimenting with a various upgrades, Ferrari seem to be heading in the right direction as Fernando Alonso ended the day second quickest – a mere 0.054 seconds off Hamilton while Felipe Massa’s return to form appears to continue as he stopped the clocks third quickest and 0.151 seconds off the top time.
Sebastian Vettel was fourth fastest, with Red Bull teammate and Monaco winner Mark Webber down in 12th. The pair clearly running to their own agendas, but apparently not quite at ease with the Pirelli rubber on offer for the weekend in Canada – at least not in comparison to the trio up front – Vettel racked up 44 laps, more than any one else in the session.
Revelation of the day would have to go to Force India who have a decent car where mechanical grip as at a premium, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve being a fine example. Paul Di Resta ended the day fifth fastest and Nico Hulkenberg eighth. The Silverstone based squad could be in for a healthy points haul on Sunday.
The Sauber’s have become reliable front runners and again were doing the business at the sharp end of proceedings. Kamui Kobayashi ended sixth fastest, with teammate Sergio Perez 12th.
Interestingly, the top ten were separated by just 0.619 seconds, with the top five split by a mere 0.285 seconds – a humdinger qualifying session is on the cards with all the ingredients in place for another epic race. Time will tell…
Again out of the top ten, focused on long runs, and a programme that did not involve blitzing around Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, were the Lotus pair. Romain Grosjean, who has never before driven around the Ile de Notre Dame race track, was instantly at ease on the opening day. He finished 14th on the timing sheets, with Kimi Raikkonen – Canadian GP winner in 2005 – ending the day 15th fastest. It will be interesting to see what the Enstone boys will be packing when it really matters…
Williams had a hefty repair bill post Barcelona (fire in the pit garage), another big repair bill after Monaco (Pastor Maldonado’s indiscretions) and yet another one after Bruno Senna slammed his FW34 into the ‘wall of champions’ an hour into the session. It was a classic case of carrying far too much speed into the final chicane, losing the back end and the Brazilian becoming a passenger before crash landing into the wall which has claimed some of the most illustrious names in the sport.
What to make of the first day? For sure Hamilton wants to make it seven from seven as he has yet to taste victory this year - the Mclaren driver has a splendid record in Montreal where in 2007 he scored his maiden grand prix win, and also won the 2010 edition of the race.
On the other hand Ferrari are looking for a fight, Mercedes have pace, Lotus are holding fire while Sauber and Force India have the cheek to mix it up with the big guns…
Subbed by AJN.
Montreal Free Practice 2 – Friday, 8 June 2012
|4||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:15.531||0.272||44|
|5||11||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:15.544||0.285||32|
|8||12||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:15.799||0.540||39|
|12||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:15.907||0.648||41|
|21||22||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT-Cosworth||1:18.908||3.649||27|