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Lewis Hamilton, twice a winner of the Canadian Grand Prix, has begun his Friday by setting the quickest time in opening practice. The McLaren driver was followed by Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg for Red Bull and Mercedes, but Heikki Kovalainen destroyed a front quarter of his Caterham by hitting the concrete wall.
F1’s return to Canada has been welcomed with warm arms, although there is no sell-out crowd for the season which marks 30 years since Gilles Villeneuve’s passing. Only a few drops of rain fell but, on this overcast morning, forecasters continue to predict heavy showers in the afternoon; this resulted in much running from the whole field.
One driver not enjoying as many laps as he would have liked was Jenson Button, whose McLaren – in desperate need of a clean weekend – remained rooted to the garage with a slipping clutch for much of the 90-minute period. Heikki Kovalainen also found himself out of action after sliding his way into the wall at Turn 9, bringing out the red flags. Caterham are now working hard to ensure that the Finn will be able to rejoin the action later today.
With rain expected later, both Mercedes and Red Bull used the last few minutes to run the red-marked Super Soft tyres, but Sebastian Vettel elected to restrain his pace and this left Hamilton on top of the leaderboard with his best effort of 1:15.564. Behind the top three, Fernando Alonso was fourth as both he and Felipe Massa took turns to run Ferrari’s latest exhaust configuration. Other drastic changes include a new Williams rear wing, run by Pastor Maldonado for this session, and the loss of the debatable holes in the Red Bull floor.
Practice 1 may be remembered for the number of wild animals which managed to find their ways on to the race track; before the almost customary appearance of a groundhog, which made its way through a run-off area, Kimi Räikkönen approached pieces of track which had just been visited by a fox and squirrel. No incidents were caused by the feral creatures.
As per usual on this semi-street circuit, a number of drivers – including Hamilton - missed their braking points. Post-session, stewards including ex driver Martin Donnelly are investigating an incident at the final chicane, with Vettel having deliberately skipped the corner in order to pass Bruno Senna and start a lap with a clear track in front.
Vettel reprimanded for clash with Senna
Second practice will be underway from 2pm local time (BST +5) and can also be tracked through the interactive GPUpdate.net Live Report
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