An optimistic Lewis Hamilton showed his drive and speed intact on Friday when he led George Russell in a Mercedes one-two on a truncated and interrupted day of practice at the Canadian Grand Prix.
The seven-time world champion topped the times in a fastest lap of 1 minute and 13.718 seconds to edge his team-mate by 0.027 seconds as the pair took advantage of the best track conditions before heavy rain halted the action at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve . .
“It was probably the bumpiest track we’ve been on in a long time,” Hamilton said. “And it was such a strange day. We missed the first session because of a problem with the circuit CCTV or something and I felt bad for the fans.
“The town here is really pumping and there were so many people there but I’m glad we finally got out and it was good to have an hour and a half even though we didn’t use optimally all the time.
“But this track. I love this place. This piece is mega. From the moment you leave the pit lane, it’s nasty. My car wasn’t the best, but not the worst by far and massively better than last year.
“It’s so bumpy. We need to improve the handling control and the balance in the corners and everything should be fine.
Hamilton has won seven times in Canada, a record he shares with Michael Schumacher. Hamilton has been winless since the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, the last of his record 103 wins.
Hamilton’s Mercedes team technical director James Allison played down expectations despite the success and only 12 days after a double podium finish in Spain.
“It’s good to be up front and not at the back, but don’t pay too much attention to it,” he told Sky Sports F1. “We did our job first on the long courses and our short runs at the end when the track was at its best before the rain.
Russell added: “It looks like it will be wet (Saturday) so let’s see what that brings and try to get a big result here.”
On an unusual day, the opening session was reduced to five minutes of action following a technical failure of the circuit’s CCTV systems – a decision that led organizers to decide to extend the second session by 30 minutes .
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and fellow Spaniard Fernando Alonso, a two-time Aston Martin champion, were third and fourth quickest ahead of Charles Leclerc in the second Ferrari and Red Bull’s two-time world champion Max Verstappen.
Verstappen, the out-of-control leader in this year’s title race, was unfazed by Friday’s unexpected turn of events.
He said his car hadn’t yet felt ready for the curbs and bumps of the track.
“But with the weather, I think we expect there are still a few surprises to come this weekend.”
Valtteri Bottas finished seventh for Alfa Romeo ahead of Sergio Perez in second Red Bull, local hero Lance Stroll in second Aston Martin and Alpine’s Pierre Gasly, whose driveshaft failed in the opening session caused the original red flag that ended this session.
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