Insights Gained from Friday’s F1 Canadian GP Practice Sessions

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Friday’s unusual pair of practice sessions for the Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix culminated with Lewis Hamilton clocking the fastest time, while both weather conditions and technical difficulties made their impact.

The seven-time world champion ascended to the top of the timesheets at George Russell’s expense during a crucial FP2 session, following a brief stint in FP1 due to circuit’s CCTV system malfunctions.

In the initial stage of the second practice session, Ferraris demonstrated notable speed. However, the Mercedes pair subsequently pushed them down the rankings before the typical longer runs – teams were eager to get started, given the imminent rain threat during the session’s latter half.

Meanwhile, Red Bull’s pursuit of its 100th Grand Prix victory had a shaky commencement, with Max Verstappen only attaining the sixth-best overall time, and Sergio Perez landing eighth on the timesheets, behind Valtteri Bottas who topped FP1.

Below are all the details gleaned from an eventful Friday in Montreal.

The day’s narrative

The first hour-long session saw minimal activity due to a routine red flag, triggered by Pierre Gasly’s halt caused by an electrical issue in the Alpine driver’s steering wheel. This stoppage was prolonged as the circuit’s CCTV systems experienced technical glitches.

Technical issues in the CCTV equipment resulted in a delay that deemed it unsafe to continue the session, leading to its eventual cancellation. The lost run-time was compensated by extending FP2 by half an hour, though Bottas claimed the glory from the truncated initial session with the top recorded lap.

Despite predictions of rain for FP2, the weather threat didn’t significantly impact the session. A couple of red flags caused unwelcome interruptions; Nico Hulkenberg’s car was enveloped by smoke, forcing him to stop before Turn 1, and not long after the session resumed, Esteban Ocon had to stop at Turn 9, causing another delay.

GPS data showed the Mercedes being particularly strong in traction zones. Though Red Bull and Aston Martin seemed to have the best slow-speed corner performance, Mercedes easily recovered time with stronger corner exits.

Ferrari initially led the session with Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz trading top times, but George Russell displaced the Scuderia once the session resumed fully. However, Russell’s reign as the fastest was brief, as Hamilton outpaced him shortly after with a 1m13.718s.

Attention then shifted to long-run pace, with impending dark clouds over the Ile Notre-Dame causing concern. Rain was expected to hit the circuit with 20 minutes remaining, but it held off for another 15 minutes, providing an opportunity for a little extra mileage.

However, a sudden downpour enveloped the northern part of the circuit, ending any conventional running. A few audacious drivers tested the conditions with intermediate tyres, but these were ineffective as the standing water increased rapidly. Despite this, with wet conditions anticipated to continue throughout the weekend, the experience of a damp Circuit Gilles Villeneuve might be beneficial.


Lewis Hamilton recorded the fastest time with 1’13.718 in his Mercedes over 30 laps. George Russell was second fastest in his Mercedes, with Carlos Sainz, Fernando Alonso, and Charles Leclerc rounding off the top five.

Red Bull’s Pursuit of 100th Grand Prix Win

Red Bull’s quest for its 100th grand prix win was challenging due to the rearrangement of Mercedes’ run plans and the relatively better track conditions later in the session.

Both Hamilton and Russell reported that the circuit was especially bumpy, with Hamilton indicating the necessity for overnight work to enhance the car’s ride control and ensure a more stable platform for qualifying.

The eventful Friday practice sessions for the Canadian Grand Prix concluded with Lewis Hamilton taking the lead, setting the fastest lap of the day. Rainy weather and technical issues, such as those with the track’s CCTV system, made a significant impact on the events of the day. Despite these obstacles, Hamilton, a seven-time world champion, managed to edge out his teammate, George Russell, to take the top spot in the second practice session (FP2).

In the initial stages of FP2, Ferrari showed promising speed. However, Mercedes’ team members managed to surpass them just before the lengthy runs usually performed by teams when rainfall is expected. With the forecast indicating a high chance of rain for the second half of the session, teams were eager to take their longer runs early.

Red Bull’s journey towards its 100th Grand Prix victory got off to a rough start. Max Verstappen only managed to achieve the sixth-fastest time overall, and his teammate Sergio Perez came in eighth, lagging behind the fastest racer in FP1, Valtteri Bottas.

The first session of the day was marred by a stoppage due to Pierre Gasly’s steering wheel having an electrical issue, as well as glitches in the track’s CCTV systems. These interruptions led to the cancellation of the session, with additional time added onto FP2 to compensate for the lost practice time. Bottas came out on top in the troubled first session with the fastest recorded lap.

Rain was expected for FP2 but it was mostly unaffected by inclement weather. There were still interruptions, such as when Nico Hulkenberg’s car began emitting a thick cloud of smoke, forcing him to stop at Turn 1 after just 30 minutes. Shortly after the session resumed, Esteban Ocon of team Alpine was instructed to stop his car at Turn 9, causing yet another delay.

Data showed Mercedes as strong performers in traction zones. Despite Red Bull and Aston Martin presenting arguably better platforms for slow-speed corners, Mercedes compensated with stronger exits from these corners. Ferrari started strong in FP2, with Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz setting the pace, only to be overtaken by George Russell and then Hamilton once the session was back in full swing.

The latter part of the practice focused on long-run pace, with looming rain clouds putting the engineers on edge. As anticipated, rain hit the circuit with just 20 minutes left on the clock, effectively ending any standard practice runs. Despite this, with wet conditions predicted to continue over the weekend, gaining experience on a wet Circuit Gilles Villeneuve could be valuable.

Looking at Red Bull’s struggle for their 100th win, Mercedes’ mid-session strategy change contributed to their surge in the second half. Opting to complete their longer runs on medium tyres early in the session, and saving their soft-tyre runs for later, gave them a slight advantage. Both Mercedes drivers noted the track was unusually bumpy and improvements were needed before qualifying.

Although Ferrari had an impressive top speed, they couldn’t quite match Mercedes in initial traction or Red Bull and Aston Martin during cornering. Verstappen also expressed concerns about dealing with kerbs and bumps, which seemed to explain why he was losing time exiting corners.

Despite challenging weather forecasts for Saturday, Mercedes, Ferrari, and potentially Red Bull could have a three-way contest for pole position, making the outlook for the weekend intriguing. On race day, it’s expected to be mostly dry, though overcast, but again, predictions regarding medium tyre pace remain uncertain. Hamilton, Verstappen, and Sainz showed varied performances on medium tyres, adding more suspense to the competition.

The day concluded with Verstappen, Hamilton, and Russell expressing their thoughts on the eventful practice sessions, highlighting the challenges they faced and.

Red Bull’s ambitions for a landmark 100th Grand Prix victory look to be challenging

The Mercedes’ superior performance during the latter part of the session was partly due to a switch in their run plans, opting for their longer runs on the medium tyre at the session’s start and reserving their full-out soft-tyre runs for later. The circuit had been more rubbered in by this time, providing the W14s with slightly more favorable track conditions. George Russell corroborated this, mentioning the timing boards could not be taken at face value due to Mercedes’ unconventional approach to the session.

Both drivers commented on the notably bumpy circuit, and Hamilton believed there was room for overnight improvements to the car’s ride control, ensuring a more stable platform for the qualifying rounds.

GPS data showed that the Mercedes performed exceptionally well in the traction zones. While delta times indicated that Red Bull and Aston Martin arguably had the best platforms in the slow-speed corners, the Mercedes made up for this with superior corner exits. For instance, the Aston Martin held a two-tenth advantage over the W14 at the hairpin, but mere moments later, as the cars accelerated, Mercedes had a more than six-tenth advantage.

Ferrari demonstrated superior top speed, particularly as its acceleration seemed to increase in the latter half of the straights. However, the SF-23 couldn’t match the Red Bull and Aston Martins in the corners or the Mercedes in initial traction. Sainz did manage to reduce his gap with Hamilton’s best lap through a strong exit from the chicane, but Hamilton’s throttle trace hinted at a slight corner exit mistake.

Red Bull’s difficulties were puzzling, and Verstappen ended the session feeling there was a lot of work to be done to give him more confidence in the car. Many of the problems seemed to stem from difficulties navigating kerbs and bumps, which might explain his loss of time on corner exits. Exiting the final chicane, Verstappen lost time compared to Alonso due to a particularly rough kerb at the apex.

Assuming dry conditions, Ferrari could potentially challenge for pole if it can fine-tune its corner entry speed since corner exits can be compensated for during acceleration. Despite its own doubts, Mercedes still has a good chance of earning front-row rewards if its traction strengths persist into Saturday. Counting out Red Bull would be unwise, and a thrilling three-way pole battle is a distinct possibility. However, the forecast for continued rain could add unexpected twists. If the prediction of ongoing precipitation throughout Saturday’s proceedings is accurate, all existing strategies could be rendered useless.

Although rain is expected in Montreal on Saturday, the race day appears to be primarily dry, albeit overcast. Predicting medium tyre pace over longer runs seems challenging as Mercedes completed its medium tyre runs at the beginning of the session. Hamilton’s best laps on the yellow-walled compound varied in the low-to-mid 1m18s, while Verstappen was into the 1m17s with the medium Pirellis.

Sainz’s medium tyre runs were inconsistent; while faster than Hamilton’s and occasionally surpassing Verstappen’s, the Spaniard’s times oscillated more between the 1m17s – 1m18s than the Dutchman’s. Leclerc suggested he might be able to give the two-time champion a run for his money if Ferrari can maintain its tyres, as he managed to stay in the low 1m17s more frequently than Verstappen, though consistency eluded Ferrari.

Then there’s the Fernando Alonso factor to consider. Aston Martin’s medium-tyre runs were significantly shorter than the other three teams in the Big Four, but his few laps fell within the same range as Verstappen and Leclerc. The Spaniard might be the wildcard that complicates the strategies of the other three teams. Overall, with the uncertain weather, an eventful weekend lies ahead for the teams and fans alike.

At the end of the day, Hamilton, Verstappen, and Russell shared their thoughts on the session, citing various challenges they faced during the practice and how they were going to adapt their strategies for the coming qualifying and race days.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Formula 1 Practice

Who held the fastest time in the Canadian GP’s Friday practice sessions?

Lewis Hamilton, the seven-time world champion, held the fastest time during the Friday practice sessions.

Which team faced technical issues in the first practice session?

The first practice session was disrupted by technical issues with the circuit’s CCTV system.

What significant issues did Max Verstappen face during the practice?

Max Verstappen faced challenges with the kerbs and bumps on the circuit, which appeared to slow him down, especially on corner exits.

How did the weather conditions affect the practice sessions?

Rain was forecast for the second practice session (FP2), but it was largely unaffected by inclement weather. However, a deluge later swarmed the circuit, ending conventional running.

What is the prediction for Red Bull’s performance given their Friday practice results?

Based on the results of Friday practice, Red Bull’s performance showed some struggle, particularly dealing with kerbs and bumps. This could potentially hamper their quest for a 100th grand prix win.

What was notable about Mercedes’ performance during the practice sessions?

According to GPS data, Mercedes performed particularly well in the traction zones. Despite Red Bull and Aston Martin showing strong form in slow-speed corners, Mercedes was able to regain that time with stronger exits from the corners.

What was the impact of the weather forecast for the rest of the weekend?

The weather forecast predicted continuous rain over the weekend, potentially affecting the strategies and performance of all teams. The teams might need to adjust their plans based on the weather conditions.

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InRussellWeTrust June 17, 2023 - 1:03 pm

George has been impressive, teaming up well with Hamilton. Mercedes looking good.

pitstopPro June 17, 2023 - 2:56 pm

those mercedes… traction control’s a thing of beauty, isn’t it?

AlonsoAdmirer June 17, 2023 - 7:03 pm

Don’t count out alonso, guy’s got plenty of fight left. aston martin could surprise us all.

SpeedyGonzalez June 17, 2023 - 10:02 pm

Still rooting for Verstappen here, Hope they sort out those tech issues overnight…

F1Fanatic June 18, 2023 - 5:41 am

Can’t wait to see how the rest of the weekend plays out. rain can really shake things up!

LuvFerrari June 18, 2023 - 5:52 am

surprised to see ferrari strong at the start, Hope they keep it up! Go leclerc and sainz!

QuebecRacer June 18, 2023 - 5:53 am

Circuit’s a mess with those bumps, wonder how the drivers will cope… excited for race day

Dave1978 June 18, 2023 - 9:00 am

Hamilton’s still got it! Who says the old dog can’t learn new tricks 😉


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