CANADA: In a stunning display of speed and skill, Lewis Hamilton and George Russell topped the timesheets in FP2 for the Canadian Grand Prix, raising hopes of the dominance of the Mercedes team on Friday.
The British drivers outperformed their rivals, with Carlos Sainz, Fernando Alonso, and Charles Leclerc trailing closely behind in the top five. Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez secured the sixth and eighth positions, respectively.
The second practise session, FP2, was extended by 30 minutes to compensate for the limited laps completed in FP1.
The drivers were eager to familiarise themselves with the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, leading to a busy track throughout the session. However, a CCTV issue initially disrupted the run, causing a delay.
Nonetheless, the session started half an hour early, allowing teams and drivers to regain momentum.
The narrow temporary circuit posed challenges for the drivers, as Esteban Ocon was forced to abandon a lap due to encountering Carlos Sainz on a flying lap.
The track surface was also dust-covered, leading to continuous track evolution as drivers cleaned up the asphalt lap after lap.
The Ferrari duo set the pace early, while Max Verstappen expressed concerns about his gearbox.
However, around the half-hour mark, Nico Hulkenberg’s session ended abruptly as his smoking Haas was seen slowly approaching the pit straight—smoke billowed from his car, indicating an engine issue.
The red flag was raised, briefly halting the session. Fortunately, the remaining drivers could resume their runs after a short delay.
As the session progressed, teams equipped their cars with soft tyres, preparing for qualifying simulations and aiming to set fast lap times for Saturday.
Sergio Perez encountered a close call as he seemingly grazed the wall on the exit of Turn 7. Upon inspection by the Red Bull team, he was sent back out, narrowly avoiding damage.
However, another red flag interrupted the session before most drivers could complete their flying laps.
Esteban Ocon’s Alpine came to a halt at the exit of Turn 9 due to a suspected loss of water pressure. With rain looming and the need to gather data for qualifying simulations, teams hurriedly returned to the track.
Despite the interruptions, times improved throughout the field. Sainz and Leclerc maintained their positions at the top, followed by Verstappen.
Alonso made an impressive climb into the top five after a slower start. George Russell put in a remarkable performance, but Lewis Hamilton, a teammate at Mercedes, outperformed him with a lap time of 1:13.718, which was just 0.027 seconds faster than Russell’s.
As the session neared its end, dark clouds loomed over the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, accompanied by increasing wind.
While the rain held off for the drivers to set their lap times, both Red Bull drivers ventured out on intermediate tyres when the track was declared wet. With minutes to spare, the rain finally arrived, leading to a downpour.
The drivers returned to the pit lane, concluding the session later than anticipated but with meaningful data collected.
The impressive performances by Hamilton and Russell showcased Mercedes’ speed and potential ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix.