Canadian GP - Friday - Practice Session 1 Report
All Mercedes top four in Montreal first session
Jenson Button (1:18.127) set the fastest time in the opening session of free practice for the Canadian Grand Prix, round eight of the 19-race Formula 1 World Championship.
Montreal is a one-off in terms of F1 circuit layout ‚Äö√Ñ√¨ a number of flat-out sections interspersed by chicanes and hairpins giving at stop-go nature, where top speed, braking stability and traction are all-important, bounded by close concrete walls which severely punish the slightest transgression.
It was widely anticipated that McLaren-Mercedes, with its potent engines and F-duct rear wing-stalling device would be ideally suited to the track and Button's smooth style appears to be paying dividends already.
Michael Schumacher (1:18.285) has won this race seven times and also has the benefit of a Mercedes engine and an F-duct. The German was just 0.16s adrift of Button but slightly faster than Lewis Hamilton's McLaren (1:18.352). Nico Rosberg made it four Mercedes-powered cars in the first four positions with a lap in 1:18.356.
Sebastian Vettel, still refusing to accept blame for the Turkey incident with Red Bull team mate Mark Webber, was spectacular to watch, just a hair's breadth from the pit wall out of the last chicane and on the exit of Turns three and four. It was testament to how hard the young German was trying and ultimately netted him a 1:18.549, more than a second quicker than Webber (1:19.609), who languished in 14th place after the first session.
Robert Kubica, so strong in Melbourne and Monte Carlo, is also expected to go well at a venue which brought him his horrendous crash in 2007 and also his lone Grand Prix win for BMW a year later. The Pole finished the opening session sixth fastest (1:18.662), marginally quicker than Fernando Alonso's Ferrari (1:18.726). The Spaniard is still insisting that a championship challenge this season is realistic from his current position of fourth, some 14 points off the pace and with a significant Ferrari upgrade due for the next round in Valencia.
Vitantonio Liuzzi (1:19.097) was eighth fastest with his Mercedes-powered Force India, ahead of the Cosworth-powered Williams FW32s of Nico Hulkenberg (1:19.282) and Rubens Barrichello (1:19.313). With Williams technical director Sam Michael aiming at getting both cars into the top 10 in qualifying here, it proved to be a good start for both Cosworth at a power circuit and Hulkenberg in particular, given that it's the first time that the young German has seen the place.