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Formula 1

What happened in wet first F1 Canadian GP practice

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
2 min read

Lando Norris topped a rain-affected and red-flagged opening practice session at the Canadian Grand Prix on a day that looks set to frustrate Formula 1 teams.

FP1 headlines

  • Norris beats Ferraris but...
  • ...conditions unrepresentative after rain
  • Multiple errors in tricky conditions

A sudden change in the weather brought a hailstorm and heavy rain in the build-up to FP1, which started on time but with the pitexit initially closed as standing water on the track continued to be cleared.

It took just over 20 minutes for the pit exit to open, albeit with rain falling further. Lewis Hamilton (on intermediates) and Valtteri Bottas (on full wets, but not for long) were first to venture out for Mercedes and Sauber respectively, before others gradually joined them. 

Those that did so on wets, like Bottas, quickly realised inters were sufficient. But there were still no meaningful laptimes as the session passed the halfway mark, and was then red-flagged after an incident for Zhou Guanyu.

The Sauber driver lost control of the car through the Turn 5 right-hand kink at the end of the first sector and slapped the wall on the outside, crawling to a halt a short while later before the Turn 6/7 Esses.

A five-minute red flag left just over 20 minutes for teams to salvage something from an otherwise meaningless session, although more than half stayed in the garage as the track quickly dried.

What little wet running there was went the way of Ferrari as Carlos Sainz led Charles Leclerc by less than a tenth, but all 20 cars ended up back in their garages as the session entered its final 10 minutes, to prepare for a few final tentative laps on slick tyres.

With the track still clearly wet in places it was not immediately quicker to run the soft tyre, although Leclerc recovered from a wild moment on his first push lap to lower the bar to a 1m25.306s, two seconds quicker than the benchmark on inters - and set up a frenzied final lap of the session for everybody as conditions rapidly improved. 

Norris ultimately went top on a 1m24.435s and Sainz got ahead of Leclerc as well. Leclerc looked like he might respond with a quicker final lap but he did not improve.

Hamilton and Max Verstappen finished the session in the top five as they jumped up the order in the late soft runs, despite Verstappen being one of several to have what he called “a little off-road excursion”.

Others were more dramatic, with some finding particularly wet patches of grasses to trudge through, but remarkably nobody else stuffed it in the wall – the only relative ‘victims’ of the session being Alpine’s FP1 stand-in Jack Doohan and Williams driver Alex Albon, who didn’t set a laptime.

Albon will at least get another chance in FP2, although with more rain forecast, it could be another hour if stunted and unfulfilling running.

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