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Alonso back on Form To Top Free Practice In Montreal ahead of Hamilton
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Posted By: Matt Meadows  |  07 Jun 2013   |  9:14 pm GMT  |  59 comments

Fernando Alonso has bounced back from a below par performance at the Monaco Grand Prix to head the Formula One field in Free Practice around the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Romain Grosjean.

The Ferrari driver set the fastest lap in a qualifying simulation on the supersoft tyre and also put in a strong long run performance with fast, consistent laps. But Red Bull also looked consistent on the long runs and Mercedes looked strong on single lap pace again.

Following heavy rain overnight much of Free Practice 1 was run in wet conditions, with only a small number of cars taking to the slick tyre as the circuit dried in the closing minutes.

This meant that there was little experience gained on the new development tyre that has been brought to Canada by Pirelli in the hope of negating the delaminations that have occurred in recent Grand Prix.

However FP2 was dry throughout, although cold at 19 degrees celsius, and this allowed for the teams to evaluate the modified tyre and complete some dry laps.

It took until the half way point in the session for the qualifying simulations to begin and Sebastian Vettel was the first to set a competitive time on Pirelli’s super-soft compound. It became apparent that some cars were struggling to put temperature in to the tyres on the first flying lap with the fastest times coming on the second flying lap of the tyre.

With the track gaining grip rapidly the top spot was held by Vettel, Webber and Hamilton before Alonso took to the top, just 1/100th of a second ahead of Hamilton with the fourth lap on the tyres. He followed up with another lap a few hundredths slower.

Hamilton has stated that his difficulties in getting the maximum out of the car this season -relative to Nico Rosberg – lie with unfamiliarity with the different braking system that the Briton has struggled to get to grips with since his move from McLaren.

Similarly to Monaco, Montreal is a circuit that the drivers must edge up to in order to find their maximum pace as unforgiving walls lining the circuit offer little room for error. And as the times began to drop there was the customary change to the option tyre as the teams set about completing qualifying simulations, before the switch the race stint simulations in the final thirty minutes of the afternoon.

During these runs it was the usual contenders who illustrated strong race pace as Ferrari, Lotus and Red Bull put themselves ahead of Mercedes over the lengthy stints. And with these teams taking seven of the top eight places it looks set to be a good battle between the front-runners.

Force India also looked strong on long run pace in its 100th Grand Prix.

Alonso finds himself 29 points adrift of World Championship leader Sebastian Vettel and with a car that looks superior to the rest of the field at this early stage of the weekend Ferrari must focus on clawing back that deficit that has come about through Vettel’s excellent consistency.

There were a number of lock-ups during the first half of the session in particular, which is typical in Montreal with its long straights leading in to heavy braking zones. However it is also believed that the development tyre affected the brake bias of the cars and caused more frequent lock-ups then we would usually see.

CANADIAN GRAND PRIX, Montreal, Free Practice 2
1. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m14.818s 48
2. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m14.830s + 0.012s 45
3. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m15.083s + 0.265s 40
4. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m15.212s + 0.394s 46
5. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m15.249s + 0.431s 46
6. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m15.254s + 0.436s 43
7. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m15.280s + 0.462s 41
8. Adrian Sutil Force India 1m15.396s + 0.578s 43
9. Jenson Button McLaren 1m15.422s + 0.604s 29
10. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m15.566s + 0.748s 38
11. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1m15.599s + 0.781s 35
12. Sergio Perez McLaren 1m15.661s + 0.843s 39
13. Paul di Resta Force India 1m15.855s + 1.037s 22
14. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m16.319s + 1.501s 46
15. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m16.351s + 1.533s 38
16. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1m16.374s + 1.556s 40
17. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1m16.475s + 1.657s 45
18. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1m16.929s + 2.111s 35
19. Jules Bianchi Marussia 1m17.070s + 2.252s 41
20. Charles Pic Caterham 1m17.236s + 2.418s 35
21. Max Chilton Marussia 1m17.888s + 3.070s 45
22. Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1m18.392s + 3.574s 39
 

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59 Comments
  1. VP of Common Sense says:

    Hard to pick against Alonso if he manages a front row start. Mercedes doesn’t look like they will be able to run very long on the super soft tyres in the opening stint.

  2. Phil Glass says:

    Alonso looks set for win No. 3.

    Charlie and the stewards: please keep a close eye on S. Perez. He thinks he can have fun with the title contenders.

    1. Tornillo Amarillo says:

      Yes this time Kimi should give up… and also Button, Grosjean.

      Go Checo!

    2. Michael Collins says:

      If a racer can keep it clean, everyone should be able to “have fun” with the title contenders. I have no problem with a mid pack driver fighting for a top five or podium if he has the pace and doesn’t do anything silly.

      1. Simmo says:

        Yes, but this was not the case in Monaco, so it may be necessary to keep an eye out.

    3. bender says:

      I find these kind of comments staggering. Since when, in the history of F1, have “title contenders” immune from being challenged by up-and-coming drivers?

      I seem to recall one young upstart called Senna “having fun” with title challengers on a wet Monaco track back in 84, and that’s just one example.

      If 90% of the field are told to keep away from the 3 or 4 title challengers, then why bother racing at all?

      1. Sri says:

        Here is a source:
        =========================

        Perez faces the risk of being taught a lesson at some stage, although does not see why a driver would resort to enacting revenge on track.

        ‘I’m not worried at all, firstly because they’re very mature drivers, and secondly because they are fighting for the championship,’ added Perez

        Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/formulaone/article-2337089/F1-Sergio-Perez-confident-Kimi-Raikkonen-wont-want-revenge-Canada.html#ixzz2VctBjd6S
        Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook
        ========================
        So he knows that he can take the “risks” and threaten them of crash where as they cannot do the same as they are fighting for WDC. Now that is a disturbing thought. A counter question to you: Why should the WDC contenders need to race fairly where as the midfield drivers can do whatever they want and expect cooperation from contenders for their overtaking moves?

      2. F*ckYeah says:

        According to “Alonso fans” nobody has a right to try and overtake him, like half the midfield did at the drivers track in Monaco.

        Now the little man is reduced too wishing his superior rivals suffer bad luck. Classic Alonso, these guys actually have to race their team mates, whereas he has an assistant out there.

      3. [MISTER] says:

        I would agree with you, except in this case Sergio was too aggresive. The move on Kimi where both had to cut the corner was a clear indication Perez dived on the inside and was never going to make the corner.

        Moves like that shouldn’t even happen in GP2.

    4. Elie says:

      +1 he’s still saying he did nothing wrong and ain’t changing anything. Im just wondering who will be the first driver to ram their fist in his mouth.

      1. Anne says:

        Well McLaren made it very clear they support Perez driving style. I´m very suprised that MW is careless about points. After all what Perez did was useless. He crashed and didn´t finish the race. I´m not asking McLaren to care about safety or other drivers. But I don´t understand why they want to risk to finish a race without both cars.

    5. Rossco says:

      So he’s not in the race for the title, does that mean he’s not allowed to race with title contenders? That’s it, let’s only allow the first 7 including Massa, who have a chance of winning the championship. Everyone else should be demoted to B Grade.

      It’s racing, it’s not like Perez was a backmarker they were overtaking, they were racing for position. Kimi can have another cry.

      1. Phil Glass says:

        Hey Rossco and all above

        I think you misunderstand. Fight hard and fair is fine, against Kimi or Alonso or anyone else.

        But if you charge in where there is no space and without any idea in your head except the other guy will make way for you because he has points to worry about… then you are not a driver worthy of a team like McLaren: you are a jackass. That’s burro in Spanish.

      2. Chris Trebble says:

        Or MSC :-D

    6. AuraF1 says:

      I think it’s fine for his first two attempts – checo is a one idea per race guy clearly! The same move – first time will be great, second will be pushing it, third will be a disaster! Unlike grosjean – who’ll basically hit you because its your fault. ;)

    7. yugin says:

      By having fun, the OP doesn’t mean ‘overtaking’ but rather ‘attempting to take out’.

  3. KRB says:

    I really hope Merc were running higher fuel than others on those long runs, as they looked awful (relatively speaking of course). Ferrari and RBR both look in good shape, and even Force India is there.

    Congrats to FI on their 100th GP.

    I think RBR might take their first win in Canada, and likely not from pole.

  4. goferet says:

    So the early indications from these new development tyres is that they take a while to get heat into.

    Hmm… Could we be heading back to the tyre heating problems we saw in the first 7 races of 2012 >>> Lets wait and see, could get messy.

    Now, strong long run pace exhibited by Ferrari, Lotus and Red Bull but unfortunately, strong run pace isn’t an advantage on this track for the safety car always wipes out any advantage a team may have in it’s pockets.

    So yeah, the above teams may not have it their own way more so as the rain is slated to cause chaos and bring out the Redflag (no doubt) during qualifying.

    Good to see, Lewis’ brakes working out for him, it’s been a while since he’s had a trouble free weekend.

    The midfield looks pretty much like they have been with possibly the exception of Williams who look to have made a slight improvement up the grid pegging down Sauber in the process.

    Anyway, it’s been an interesting day out there with a number of drivers making mistakes. I expect the trend to continue for the rest of the weekend.

    1. Anon says:

      If they take a while to get heat into then Ferrari and Lotus should struggle more than the other cars.

  5. Oz Geezza says:

    It looks like being a very interesting
    Canadian F1,how it pans out we shall see on
    Sunday,interestingly though the two drivers
    that undoubtely are consindered the best on
    the grid that achieved a sub 1.15sec a lap
    how wonderful it would be if those two
    drivers continue to prove the point during
    race namly Alonso abd Hamilton, alas the wish
    with all probability will be contrary.

    1. Ahmed says:

      Funny how some fans view who “the best” drivers are…
      Each driver has their own strengths and weaknesses, and here is my opinion on the Alonso Vs Hamilton Vs Vettel, as they are more commonly acknowledged to be in their own class.

      Hamilton: Strength is his qualifying speed, & relentless in his determination.
      Weakness is his race craft and ability to adjust set up in mixed conditions sometimes lets him down. He doesnt seem to know which way to go at times and relies on his engineers instead of leading them. Has been in one of the top cars since 07, and has one title.
      Hamilton at 29 is near his peak.

      Alonso: Strength is his racecraft and ability to claw every bit of performance from the car in race trim. Just as good at psychological warfare with his many coded statements against team mates and competition.
      Weakness: qualifying speed, which has undoubtedly let him down in 2012 and perhaps again in 2013?
      2 world titles in 05 and 06, seem from a different era, desperate to get his 3rd.
      Alonso at 31 is at his peak

      Vettel: Strength is qualifying, and his string of Poles and fastest laps are evidence of this.
      Weakness: Frustration when things are not going to plan, his racecraft is not at Alonso’s level, but he is not far off.
      Vettel at 25, 3 world titles, and improving every year.

      The scary thought is how good will Vettel be in 3-5 years from now, when he actually hits his peak???

      1. Anon says:

        “Top cars since 07 and one title”, 2007 was his debut year and Alonso was doing everything in his power to ruin things for Lewis (holding him up in pits etc., 2008 he won, 2009 his car was nowhere near good enough over the season, 2010 was a close 5 way battle which could have went anyway, 2011 Red Bull were miles ahead but Lew did have a bad season anyway, 2012 he had the best car at the start and end of the season but it’s well documented that he lost around 130 points due to mechanical/pit problems and if points were only handed out for qualifying he would have been WDC in 2012, 2013 his car destroys its tyres just like all the other “W0″s

      2. [MISTER] says:

        Disagree completely with you.
        The strenghts and weaknesses are not relevant unless you put them all in the same car.
        For example, the Ferrari and Lotus doesn’t seem to put heat into the tyres as quick as Mercedes this year and like RedBull last year and the year before. Well, if that is the case, how can you say Alonso’s weakness is qualy speed? If he doesn’t have the machinery to nail that perfect lap, it doesn’t mean his skill is not there.

      3. Rockie says:

        This is a well balanced analysis.

      4. Miha Bevc says:

        I agree with everything you said.

  6. Steve says:

    Alonso was over a second slower than SV’s pole time last year, so I’d take all the “fastest laps” with a large helping of salt. It looks like everybody was concentrating on their set-up and long-run pace.

    1. KRB says:

      Umm, seeing as this track ramps up more than most, as rubber is laid down, it’s silly to compare a pole time to a FP2 time.

      Last year Hamilton led FP2 times with a 1:15.259, which only would’ve been good enough for 7th today. The pole time bettered that by 1.5s. If it stays dry (not likely), then we could see a pole time of 1:13.4 this year.

      1. Steve says:

        It’s silly to be impressed by a rather slow FP2 time. Alonso gets the bragging rights for being fastest in FP2, but its wrong to leap to the assumption that he’s going to be on the front row based on what we saw today.

        Of course they say it will rain in qualifying, so all bets are off.

  7. Irish con says:

    Merc on row 1. Red bull on row 2 and alonso in position 5 or 6. Then Fernando to come through to battle Sebastian and Kimi for the win on Sunday.

    1. John M says:

      Sounds about right, from the look of things.

    2. Hansb says:

      I share this picture. In qualifying both Ferrari might fall back against Merc and RB. However racepace seems to be OK. Overtaking is not too difficult (unlike Monaco) so I hope we get an exciting race !

  8. Anne says:

    I´m glad Ferrari seems to be in good shape. However the important thing about the free practice today was the new tyres. And due to wheather they didn´t test those tyres that much.

  9. Marcelo Leal says:

    Alonso has a car to be at first position on the WDC, and is not there, not because of Vettel excellent consistency, but because of Alonso and Ferrari errors. The ferrari car is better than the RBR, and so the situation is more error from Alonso/Ferrari than the competitors. The logic is simple, there is nothing that a slower car can do to go faster, but a faster car car go slower.
    Alonso did a good WDC last year, but is doing everything wrong this season, and that needs to be said. Let’s see if this time around he will be at pole… I doubt it, though.
    If Hamilton was with this car and making these mistakes, I’m sure the headlines would be different.
    And if was Vettel, everyone would say that he had the best car, blah, blah, blah…
    And were is Kimi?? Everytime James days the same: Lotus has great race pace, and Kimi on the races is always bureocratic. The only guy there that can have pole I think is the RG. Let’s see this time if Kimi can be the fastest…

    1. Anil says:

      Red bull have a faster car but are front limited compared to the Ferrari. The Ferrari is strong on tracks where tyre wear is high as they are gentle on them but this is a disadvantage in wet/cold conditions.

      The variety of tracks throughout the calendar mean we should expect some variety in which car is strongest; red bull will punish Ferrari at tracks like Singapore and Abu dhabi but Ferrari will be strong at tracks like spa and Suzuka. What a season we have ahead of us.

      1. mhilgtx says:

        You couldn’t be more correct. This year has been a year of “horses for courses” no pun intended. This should continue although not as much the rest of the season.

      2. hero_was_senna says:

        Just want to add one thought.
        Ferrari have been kind to their tyres for a few years now, hence why they struggle in qualifying conditions.

        Last years F2012 also had this problem, yet Malaysia was won by Ferrari, he qualified on pole in Britain and Germany in the wet and subsequently finished second in Britain and won in Germany.

        Yesterday, was hardly warm, nor was Australia this year when Lotus, Ferrari and Force India all starred.

      3. Anil Parmar says:

        The ferrari at the beginning of last year was very hard on its tyres which helped them in the rain. It changed once they got the spain update on though.

        Pole in silverstone and Germany were great drives from Alonso but, if I remember correctly the red bulls had faster sector times but both drivers didnt hook it up on their fastest laps. I’ll take your point though that they were stronger in the wet last year than this year!

      4. KRB says:

        Suzuka’s been an RBR favourite for many years now. It might be a bit different this year though, I guess we’ll see.

  10. Sunbeam says:

    Alonso could do with a win to keep things intresting

  11. H.Guderian says:

    The guy (ALO) has three seasons of almost perfect races (despite having a *bad* car). Has a bad race (Monaco) and now he “is back on form”. REALLY funny!!!!

    1. Steve says:

      He didn’t have a “bad” car” and he didn’t have “three seasons of almost perfect races”. He made plenty of mistakes in 2010 which ended up costing him the title. He’s never been as error-free as people have made him out to be.

      Look, he’s a very good driver, one of the best. But this belief that he is nearly perfect is not supported by his record.

    2. Hansb says:

      Hm I agree with you, and the first day in Monaco wasnt too bad either so lets wait and see tonight.

      Besides Monaco, as a team they have already had two bad races, the front wing and the rear wing incident.

      Now their car seems to be more competitive it seems they are willing to take more risks

  12. Martin says:

    James,
    in your FP2 commentary, you have mentioned the Wall of Champions and IIRC you singled out Jenson as one of the Walls victim.
    I could be wrong, but I don’t think Jenson ever crashed there..
    am I right ?
    Thanks, regards,
    Martin

    1. Martin says:

      Ahh, a little research and I have the answer to my own question:
      Jensen DID crash there in 2005, but that was of course before he become a World Champion.
      So perhaps he wasn’t the right example to mention…?
      Regards,
      Martin

      1. Antti says:

        IIRC, he is the only champion in the present grid to have crashed to the wall in question.

      2. KRB says:

        Well, Vettel crashed into it during a practice session one year. But as for during a race, you’re probably right.

    2. James Allen says:

      No, he definitely did. 2005 in a BAR Honda. I talked to him about it on Thursday!

      1. Anil says:

        Kobayashi had an incident there too…I hope he comes back to a competitive team!

  13. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    James do you think this Canada GP is in danger in the future? Do you see a new contract for next year is possible?

    1. KRB says:

      The contract runs to next year’s race, IIRC. But after that, who knows. The federal gov’t here won’t be forking over a bunch of new money, that’s for sure.

  14. mhilgtx says:

    James the US guys said that Perilli was expecting these tires to run about 10 degree cooler (not sure if this is C or F). Have you heard or been told the same?

    I am just now watching practice 2. It looks like the new tires will be much more to Merc’s liking.

    Not sure what to make of the times as they seem to mean little when it comes to race day.

    The US broadcast made a pretty big deal out of the new “speed bumps”. Steve Machett was pretty sure they would be gone by Sunday as he felt they were unsafe. They showed a FI car getting completely off the ground. Not hard to imagine a car jumping that curve being thrown into another and then up and over the wall.

    In other news the Indycars are racing about 10 mins from me. Tempted to grab a ticket and run over there.

    1. Tim says:

      In other news the Indycars are racing about 10 mins from me. Tempted to grab a ticket and run over there….

      I would if I was you. I watched the Indy race at Rockingham (quite a few years ago, now) and it was fantastic.

      1. mhilgtx says:

        I did go and was as you said fantastic. Those cars are so fast, ugly but fast.

        Fortunately for me, not for the sport, there were plenty of seats to choose from.

  15. I know says:

    In the previous piece on Lewis’ breaking troubles, you suggested that Lewis had reverted to his preferred Carbon Industries material, while Rosberg was continuing with Mercedes’ Brembo braking system. However, in the interview during FP2, Ross Brawn stated that both drivers were in fact running Lewis’ preferred material, after Rosberg had tested it and was satisfied, thus avoiding the team having to develop the car with two different systems in parallel.

    Can you please elaborate when this switch would have taken place? I am pretty sure they did not abandon Brembo before the start of the season (and indeed your piece suggested that both cars were running Mercedes’ customary braking system until now). Did Ross Brawn refer to some other change that made the braking more suitable to Lewis’ style without an actual change of supplier? Or did they in fact change the material recently on both cars, to a system that Rosberg was not familiar with? In that case, one has to ask the obvious question: where did they test it?

  16. SamH123 says:

    Alonso still could well qualify around 5th but his race pace was a clear step above anyone.

    Mercedes didn’t show bad pace, on a different planet to Spain/Bahrain FP2

    1. Lance Manion says:

      Hamilton and Alonso both did 14 lap stints on the super softs towards the end of FP2. Hamilton was lapping about 1.6 seconds a lap slower. They are on the same planet they were in Barcelona.

      1. SamH123 says:

        yeah I agree now lol
        I kind of misread the times first time round and FP2 in Spain & Bahrain weren’t as bad as I remembered
        sorry

  17. KRB says:

    Not sure about that … their long run pace was always a second per lap slower than RBR and Ferrari. Check the lap times for FP2 on fia.com.

  18. Elie says:

    Just waiting for FP3 to start thanks to an incident in an earlier category with barriers thing repaired. Now this time will be taken out of FP3 because the rules say they must have 2 hours between quali – why the hell then would they have another even so close to start if FP3- just ridiculous – this will compromise set ups and possibly effect quali!!

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