Canadian Grand Prix: Max Verstappen leads the way in practice with question marks over Charles Leclerc
ax Verstappen once again marked himself out as the driver to beat by topping the timesheets for the opening two practice sessions of the Canadian Grand Prix on Friday.
Red Bull have won five of the last grands prix on the calendar and the early signs are they could stretch that to six come race day on Sunday.
Following the two sessions, Ferrari revealed that Charles Leclerc had fitted a third electronics unit meaning at least a 10-grid penalty following qualifying on Saturday.
Leclerc was only fifth fastest in the opening session some half the second off the pace at Verstappen. It was the first time the Monagesque, habitually such a strong Friday runner, had finished FP1 outside the top two this season. But he hit back to be second fastest in the second hour-long session, just 0.081seconds off the top time.
His Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz, who narrowly dodged a groundhog crossing the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve at high speed, was second in the opening session but dropped down to third in hour two.
Mercedes went for two different approaches to their set-ups for Friday’s two practice runs with Lewis Hamilton employing a large cut out to the edge of the floor of his car.
Hopes that it might have the desired effect proved unfounded when Hamilton was eighth and then 13th in the two sessions and complained over the radio that the car was “undriveable”.
The measure was a legal response to the FIA’s new directive to the issue of porpoising allowing them to relax rules relating to the floor of the car. It appeared to reduce the porpoising but clearly still left Hamilton with issues.
Hamilton said: “This car is so bad. We’re way off – pretty much like every Friday for us. It’s not the Montreal that I’m used to it. It’s the worst I’ve felt any car here. It’s a monumental fight to keep it out the wall the whole time.
“Nothing we do to this car seems to work. For me, it was a disaster. It’s like the car is getting worse. It’s getting more and more unhappy the more we do to it. We’ll just have to tough it out and work hard on building a better car for this year.”
Using a more standard set-up, George Russell was sixth and seventh in the sessions respectively.
Meanwhile, countryman Lando Norris managed just 17 laps in the early afternoon session, his McLaren parked up in the garage long before the end of the session with an unspecified issue, before a better later run.