Friday was a day which encapsulated Montreal’s weather patterns. As teams focused on the skies more than the track itself, scheduling the FP1 and FP2 running was especially difficult. A rain effected FP1, was followed by a reprieve, with a dry FP2 session, (despite fears of another downpour late on). Fernando Alonso claims the accolade as fastest man of the day, posting a 1:14.818 on the super-soft compound. However, Mercedes still appear to be the dominant force over a single lap.
FP1 began in inclement conditions, a key characteristic of Montreal in general. With the track littered by puddles and rivers, it was anticipated that the session would get off to a slow start. However, as conditions improved throughout practice, the times began to tumble as drivers switched to the slick tyres. The end of the session was a case of who could set their personal best latest and it was Paul Di Resta who prevailed, snatching P1 in the dying moments.
With a rain soaked track, conditions were only going to improve if cars began to circulate. Esteban Gutierrez became the first man to brave the slippery circuit on the intermediate tyre, setting a tentative 1:34.113. Evidently this was soon to be beaten. Thirty minutes into the session and only four drivers had posted times, with Mark Webber leading the way.
Conditions were slowly improving and times began to tumble as all 22 cars ventured out. A drying line was clearly visible, yet conditions were still not slick tyre conducing. Meanwhile, Rosberg hit the front, with Hamilton in P2 at the halfway point of the session. All was not running quite as smoothly for Williams as Valtteri Bottas took the scenic route through turn three and four. It was at this very spot which Jules Bianchi experienced difficulties just a few minutes later. He was the first casualty of the session as he went down the escape road following a seemingly innocuous lockup. Unable to work his way out, he was told to turn off his MR02 before it got too hot. Certainly a tricky start to the weekend for the French rookie.
As the slick tyres began to emerge from their blankets for the final twenty minutes, drivers had to drive with even greater caution. While the racing line was dry, it was treacherously damp off line. Williams soon forgot about Bottas’ early excursion as Pastor Maldonado became the first driver to make the easy yet costly error of running wide. At turn 3 the Venezuelan ran deep, clipping the wet patch which sent his car straight into the barrier. While no damage was sustained on any of the corners, Williams lost a vital development front wing, of which they only had two available. This wing featured out-board modifications with additional detailing, with the aim of channeling the air around the underneath the front wheel. Moreover, the cameras had been mounted on the end of the nose to increase front stability. This major update was vital to the team, yet only one remains. It would be unfair to take the wing away from Bottas for Maldonado’s error, meaning that the Venezuelan may have significantly hampered his performance across the weekend.
The nature of the circuit meant that the marshals were unable to clear Pastor’s car, meaning that the session concluded with yellow flags in sector one. Consequently, the final timesheet was more a representation of who pushed harder in sector two and who backed off more significantly. Regardless, Paul Di Resta will take confidence away from topping the timesheet, as he edged out Jenson Button. The Force India driver recorded a strong second and third sector after being 0.9 seconds down in sector one. A fantastic start to Force India’s 100th Grand Prix.
01. Paul di Resta Force India 1m21.020 10 laps
02. Jenson Button McLaren 1m21.108 +0.088 20 laps
03. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m21.258 +0.238 21 laps
04. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m21.308 +0.288 16 laps
05. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1m21.608 +0.588 22 laps
06. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m22.068 +1.048 18 laps
07. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m22.402 +1.382 22 laps
08. Sergio Perez McLaren 1m22.587 +1.567 17 laps
09. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m23.047 +2.027 26 laps
10. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m23.131 +2.111 16 laps
11. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m23.341 +2.321 13 laps
12. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1m23.352 +2.332 17 laps
13. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m23.3e6 +2.366 19 laps
14. Adrian Sutil Force India 1m23.417 +2.397 19 laps
15. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1m23.957 +2.937 33 laps
16. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m25.054 +4.034 21 laps
17. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1m25.354 +4.334 22 laps
18. Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1m25.753 +4.733 21 laps
19. Max Chilton Marussia 1m25.821 +4.801 19 laps
20. Charles Pic Caterham 1m27.143 +6.123 20 laps
21. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m27.522 +6.502 11 laps
22. Jules Bianchi Marussia 1m29.306 +8.286 8 laps
While FP1 was all about the Canadian weather, FP2 centered firmly around brake locking. Following the rain effected session, drivers focused on finding the limit, yet this was a tricky task due to the exceedingly low track temperatures. 20 degrees was the peak surface temperature and drivers evidently struggled to find core temperature in the tyres. However, it was Fernando Alonso who made the most of the difficult circumstances, to finish P1 ahead of Lewis Hamilton.
The session began frantically, as teams attempted to reschedule development runs as well as qualifying simulation following the damp first session. Moreover, drivers still had the opportunity to run the development tyre and gain vital data, meaning that it was set to be a stressful ninety minutes.
The session came alive around the halfway mark, as the super-soft tyres emerged for the first time this weekend. It was these qualifying runs which would allude to a possible result tomorrow afternoon. While track temperature may have been a factor, Lotus have cause for concern as it seemed that the E21 required three laps to get sufficient carcass temperature into the tyres. Both Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean posted impressive times, yet set their personal best’s deep in their respective stints.
During these short runs, it was Red Bull who briefly locked out the top of the timesheet, before Mercedes once again stamped their authority as kings of qualifying, as Hamilton went quickest with an impressive effort of 1:14.830. Rosberg jumped up to P3. However, it was clear that Hamilton was still struggling under braking. Throughout the session, the Brit made several lockups as he continued to come to terms with his new brake material.
However, Hamilton’s reign at the top did not last for long, as Fernando Alonso posted a 1:14.818, edging ahead of his ex-teammate. These runs formed the final timesheet, as teams opted to examine long run performance at the end of the session. Fortunately, a few light drops of rain did not hamper proceedings and teams were able to complete their FP2 schedules. The long runs suggested that Red Bull, Ferrari and Lotus are very close at the top, while Mercedes struggled for performance. However, with no information regarding fuel loads, it is important to avoid jumping to conclusions at this early stage of the weekend.
01. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m14.818 48 laps
02. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m14.830 +0.012 45 laps
03. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m15.083 +0.265 40 laps
04. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m15.212 +0.394 46 laps
05. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m15.249 +0.431 46 laps
06. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m15.254 +0.436 43 laps
07. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m15.280 +0.462 41 laps
08. Adrian Sutil Force India 1m15.396 +0.578 43 laps
09. Jenson Button McLaren 1m15.422 +0.604 29 laps
10. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m15.566 +0.748 38 laps
11. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1m15.599 +0.781 35 laps
12. Sergio Perez McLaren 1m15.661 +0.843 39 laps
13. Paul di Resta Force India 1m15.855 +1.037 22 laps
14. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m16.319 +1.501 46 laps
15. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m16.351 +1.533 38 laps
16. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1m16.374 +1.556 40 laps
17. Esteban Gutierrez Saube 1m16.475 +1.657 45 laps
18. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1m16.929 +2.111 35 laps
19. Jules Bianchi Marussia 1m17.070 +2.252 41 laps
20. Charles Pic Caterham 1m17.236 +2.418 35 laps
21. Max Chilton Marussia 1m17.888 +3.070 45 laps
22. Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1m18.392 +3.574 39 laps