Friday, 6 June 2008

Canadian Grand Prix: First Practice

The first practice session for Sunday's Grand Prix got underway under stormy skies in Montreal, with few cars venturing out on track for the first 15 minutes or so of the session. It was raining quite hard, and the conditions out on track were extremely tricky, as evidenced by the performances of those who did try their luck. About half way through the session the rain stopped and the track began to dry out. Inevitably the times began to tumble, and in a very busy final five minutes it was Ferrari's Felipe Massa who took top spot.

The likes of Trulli, Fisichella, Alonso and Sutil were the first drivers to tip-toe out on track, and they were finding that traction was virtually non-existent. In the slow corners like the opening complex and the hairpin, the cars were chugging along as though they were driving on ice, such was the difficulty in getting any power down. Once they got a bit more accustomed to the conditions they tried to push a little bit, and Trulli was the first to find himself bouncing across the wet grass at the Turn 8 and 9 chicane. He wasn't to be the only one by any means, and indeed Trulli himself had more off track excursions than any other driver on track.

The big hitters were choosing to keep their powder dry early on, leaving the smaller teams to clean the track up a bit before they headed out. The only driver from the "big 3" teams to go out early on was Heidfeld, and he immediately went fastest. Those in the crowd who came to see the likes of Raikkonen and Hamilton would have been slightly disappointed by the lack of running from McLaren and Ferrari. Indeed, Hamilton turned just 8 laps in the session (the fewest of anybody) on his way to P6 on the time sheets.

His teammate Kovalainen was the second quietest driver out on track with just 10 laps under his belt, although his 3rd place proves that the McLaren has plenty of raw speed here. Kubica and Raikkonen each drove 12 laps, finishing 2nd and 5th respectively. The busiest of the headline drivers was also the fastest, as Felipe Massa took the honours in this first session. The session wasn't without its dramas for Massa though, as he went skidding through the wet grass at one point towards the end of the session as the drivers started to switch to dry tyres.

The Red Bulls, Williams and Renaults seemed pretty evenly matched (Nelson Piquet Jnr excepted). Vettel added another impressive session to his already glowing CV by beating the likes of the Hondas and Toyotas. The Toyotas drove more laps between them than any other team, and by some margin. It didn't appear to do them much good in terms of lap times though as they languished down in 13th and 14th place. The Hondas looked even worse throughout the session. Button and Barrichello both spent time in the grass run-offs, and they finished the session with a dismal 18th and 20th (last) place.

So first blood to Ferrari, but there was so little running in the session it is difficult to draw any conclusions from this session about how things will shape up in qualifying tomorrow...


01 F. Massa Ferrari 1:17.553 14 laps
02 R. Kubica BMW 1:17.809 12 laps
03 H. Kovalainen McLaren 1:18.133 10 laps
04 N. Heidfeld BMW 1:18.182 13 laps
05 K. Räikkönen Ferrari 1:18.292 12 laps
06 L. Hamilton McLaren 1:18.303 8 laps
07 M. Webber Red Bull 1:18.712 11 laps
08 D. Coulthard Red Bull 1:18.809 12 laps
09 K. Nakajima Williams 1:18.971 24 laps
10 F. Alonso Renault 1:19.005 13 laps
11 N. Rosberg Williams 1:19.093 20 laps
12 S. Vettel Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:19.228 21 laps
13 T. Glock Toyota 1:19.346 28 laps
14 J. Trulli Toyota 1:19.568 31 laps
15 G. Fisichella Force India F1 1:19.815 16 laps
16 A. Sutil Force India F1 1:19.888 15 laps
17 N. Piquet jr. Renault 1:20.091 23 laps
18 R. Barrichello Honda 1:20.173 17 laps
19 S. Bourdais Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:20.541 16 laps
20 J. Button Honda 1:21.542 17 laps

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