Canadian GP - Friday - Practice Session 1 Report

Paul Posts

Paul di Resta posted the fastest time on a drying track in the final moments of Friday morning's Free Practice 1 for the Canadian Grand Prix. The Force India driver beat out Jenson Button (McLaren) and Romain Grosjean (Lotus) who ended up second and third.

It started raining on Thursday afternoon and it rained overnight. While the rain had all but stopped –other than a few spots of drizzle – the track was still soaking as the first free practice session began Friday morning. The weather forecast called for rain all weekend.

The ambient air temperature at the start of the session was 59 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius), and the track temperature was 60.8 degrees Fahrenheit (16 degrees Celsius.) The humidity was 81 percent.

Esteban Gutierrez was the first out of pit lane in his Sauber. Max Chilton (Marussia) and the reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) were next to venture out on the wet track.

The wet conditions made it impossible at the time, of course, for the teams to evaluate the prototype slicks Pirelli had brought to Canada. Everybody was out on Pirelli's extreme wet tire with the blue sidewalls.

The rain didn't stop the teams testing other things, however, as Ferrari proved by sending Felipe Massa out for a one lap run with the green "flow vis" paint over the front wing to check the aerodynamic air flow. But rain or no rain, the teams followed their usual procedure of having their drivers do one or two installation laps and then pitting for the cars to be checked over.

16 minutes in the session, Gutierrez posted the first lap time: 1:34.113.

The track continued to dry on the racing line, and that allowed the drivers to switch to Pirelli's intermediate rain tire with the green sidewalls. The lap times started to drop. 35 minutes into the session Jean-Eric Vergne topped the list with a 1:26.436 in his Toro Rosso. Then Monaco Grand Prix winner Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) lowered that to a 1:26.051.

40 minutes into the session, with the racing line drying, Rosberg clocked a 1:24.902 moments before Jules Bianchi slid off at Turn 3. He wanted to get back on track, but the Marussia team radioed him to switch the car off because the engine was overheating.

45 minutes into the session, Toro Rosso teammates Daniel Ricciardo and Vergne occupied the second and third slots with times of 1:25.952 and 1:26.138 respectively. But Mark Webber dislodged Vergne after turning a 1:26.105 in his Red Bull.

Lewis Hamilton, meanwhile, took a shortcut across the final chicane in his Mercedes but avoided the barriers. A couple laps later Hamilton moved into second with a time of 1:25.054. Hamilton has been having brake problems all season. The Montreal places a high demand on the brakes, but the good thing about the rain was that braking hard was not that important. And that helped Hamilton.

57 minutes into the session, Rosberg lowered the best time to a 1:24.438 and then a 1:23.680. Vettel moved into second with a 1:23.986.

With 30 minutes remaining, the track was drying off enough for the drivers to consider switching to slick tires. But the guys on the track were still running the Inters.

With 24 minutes remaining, Vettel, on inters, took the top honors with a 1:23.047.

With 20 minutes remaining, Vergne headed out on track with a set of the Pirelli experimental slicks on his Toro Rosso. But after a slow lap he came back into the pits. The intermediate tire was still the faster option at this stage.

With 13 minutes remaining, Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) and Sergio Perez (McLaren) tried out the Pirelli experimental tires. A couple of minutes later Jenson Button headed out with the Pirelli intermediate compound slicks fitted to his McLaren. Vettel did the same.

Other drivers followed suite, and the track got very busy for the final 10 minutes of the session. It was still slippery off the racing line as Button posted a 1:21.551. Kimi Raikkonen moved into second with a 1:21.608 in his Lotus as Pastor Maldonado spun and knocked the nose off his Williams as he hit the wall at Turn 3. Adrian Sutil had a harmless slide in his Force India.

Every car was in action the track with two minutes to go, excluding the parked ones of Maldonado and Bianchi.

In the waning seconds Paul di Resta topped the times with a 1:21.020 in his Force India while Button improved to a 1:21.108 to claim second ahead of Romain Grosjean who posted a 1:21.258 in his Lotus.

Alonso, Raikkonen, Ricciardo, Rosberg, Perez, Vettel and Webber rounded out the top 10.


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