Lewis Hamilton has topped the times in the first two practice sessions for the Canadian Grand Prix. The McLaren driver led almost the entire first session, and then set the pace early in the second session and stayed at the top of the times.
Behind Hamilton, the times were very close, as has become the norm in 2012. The top 13 drivers were separated by less than three quarters of a second in Free Practice 2, which suggests that we are in for a very close and exciting qualifying session tomorrow.
The day’s proceedings were dictated by the threat of rain. A few of the teams chose to use the supersoft option tyres in FP1, as they expected FP2 to be wet. In the end, although there were a few drops of rain in the first session, the running time remained mostly dry. The heavens opened shortly after the end of FP2, the promised thunderstorms finally arriving.
With walls so close to the track, it was inevitable that there would be one or two accidents. The first came in FP1, when Heikki Kovalainen lost the back end of his Caterham and hit the wall on the exit of turn nine. Although the suspension on the right hand side of the car was destroyed, the team managed to repair the car in time for Kovalainen to complete 24 laps in FP2.
Bruno Senna became the first driver to hit the “Wall of Champions” this weekend in FP2 when he carried too much speed into the final chicane and his car swapped ends on the exit. A big impact resulted in extensive damage to the front and rear of his Williams, meaning the team will have their work cut out to get his car ready for tomorrow morning’s practice session.
Although Hamilton appeared to have a comfortable Friday, Jenson Button had a nightmare day in the other McLaren. The team identified a problem with the gearbox early in FP1, which took until mid-way through FP2 to solve. Button completed only 14 laps in FP2, ending up ninth, just over half a second off the pace of his team-mate.
McLaren, Red Bull, Mercedes, Ferrari, Force India and Sauber all look quick. Lotus were surprisingly slow given their strong start to the season, but it is possible that they have yet to show their true pace. Qualifying tomorrow afternoon will reveal the pecking order. At this point, Hamilton is a good bet for pole position.
“The characteristics of the circuit should suit us, and we are counting on our car performing well there.”
“I’m very confident on this one. If you take the comeback time from the start to now, probably this is the closest that we can be of having a good result this weekend.”
Michael Schumacher is sure that his Mercedes W03 will be competitive in Montreal this weekend. The seven-time World Champion has yet to even stand on the podium since his return to Formula One in 2010, but this weekend provides his best opportunity yet for a race victory.
The 2012 Mercedes is clearly quick. Nico Rosberg has already taken a pole position and a victory in China this year. Schumacher topped the times in Monaco qualifying two weeks ago, and was running quickly in seventh place before a fuel pressure problem ended his challenge. If the car is reliable, this weekend should be competitive for the Silver Arrows.
If he wins this weekend, it will be the eighth time Schumacher has triumphed in Canada, which will equal his own record for most wins at a single race – he has already won the French Grand Prix eight times. At this point of his career, any achievement would break a record he already owns. Whether he takes pole, sets the fastest lap, stands on the podium or wins the race, Schumacher is well poised to once again re-write the record books in Canada.
Formula One is in Montreal this weekend for the Canadian Grand Prix. Read my race preview at:
In 2011, the FIA experimented with a double DRS zone in Canada. The result was a great deal of overtaking, so much so that it was thought to be too easy. This weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix will therefore feature only one DRS zone.
Last years’ first DRS zone was from on the back straight before the final chicane. The second zone was on the start-finish straight. There was only one detection point, before the first zone, which meant a driver who made a pass in the first zone would still be able to use DRS in the sescond zone, even though the move had already been completed.
This year, the second zone has been scrapped entirely. The first zone has been shortened by 50 metres, which should assist in making overtaking a little more challenging. As usual, DRS may be used anywhere on the circuit during the practice and qualifying sessions.
Kamui Kobayashi: “At the circuit in Montreal there are long straights but also slow corners. I think our car seems to be okay for this. I hope there we can have the performance we want to see. Last year I was second on the grid for the re-start after the red flag for the wet conditions, but then we suffered with tyre warm up problems and I am sure we have definitely improved on that with this year’s car. We shall have to see what we can do, but I think Montreal is one of the places where we can be strong. In case it is cold there, a key will be how the tyres work. I really like the city and the track, although, unfortunately, I have never had a great result there. This year I want to make up for this. Our car is getting better and I’m looking forward to the Canadian Grand Prix.”
Sergio Pérez: “It will be my first Canadian Grand Prix, as last year I only did a few laps in the first free practice before I realised I did not feel well enough to drive. I felt very dizzy in the car which was a consequence of last year’s Monaco accident. I think at times in recent races we have been very unlucky, but the pace is there as my lap times during the Monaco race clearly proved. I’m looking forward to doing a good job in Canada and scoring as many points as possible. It is a fast and fluid circuit on which you are often close to the wall – challenging and exciting.”
Giampaolo Dall’Ara, Head of Track Engineering: “The Montreal track is narrow with walls that are very close in some places. It offers interesting challenges. The first one is to find the right level of aerodynamic efficiency, because the level of downforce and drag is lower than on most of the other tracks. The time spent on the straights requires maximising the speed, while the corners, with the exception of the hairpin, are low speed and feature changes of direction. Therefore the car needs to be well balanced under braking, needs good traction and must be reactive. The next interesting challenge is the fact Pirelli has decided to provide us with the soft and the super soft tyre compounds as they did in Monaco. We don’t expect any problems with the super soft tyre in qualifying, but then the more difficult part will be to find the right race strategy to get the maximum out of the tyres. What’s different to last year is that there will only be one DRS zone. However, I don’t expect this to make a big difference, because overtaking is normally possible on the Montreal track. On the car we will have a new rear wing for the medium downforce requirement, plus some minor modifications.”