F1 Winter Break
Easing the pressure: Max Verstappen tops Canadian F1 GP practice as Ricciardo hits trouble
Posted By: Editor   |  08 Jun 2018   |  11:43 pm GMT  |  46 comments

Following the missed opportunity of the Monaco Grand Prix, Max Verstappen went some way to relieving the pressure on his shoulders by topping both Friday free practice sessions.

At a track which places increased importance on the power unit, Verstappen and the Renault-powered Red Bull appear to have struck a balance at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, with the Dutchman’s time of a 1:12.198 leading Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.

“It was a good day,” said Verstappen, “I think the car is working well, but we’re still lacking a little bit of top speed, you can see that in our runs, I think Mercedes are very quick there.

“I think we are not too far away so it was generally a very positive day.”

Whilst Verstappen enjoyed a sought-after clean day of running, Ricciardo’s side of the garage were battling with power-related gremlins. He remained in the pits for more than half of the session as the team swapped various air boxes and electronic components in an attempt to solve the issue.

He managed to return to the track to set a time good enough for third, but he was unable to complete any long runs to further assess the tyres. Speaking to media after the day’s running, he claimed that the issue was unrelated to the MGU-K, which still remains to be changed despite Adrian Newey’s earlier claims that Ricciardo would see a penalty for swapping the component.

As they did in the first practice session, Mercedes avoided the hypersoft tyre altogether in free practice two, suggesting that they could look to start the race on a harder tyre and potentially favour not running the compound in the race.

Setting his best time on the supersoft tyre instead, Lewis Hamilton’s effort of 1:12.777 was just over half-a-second away from Verstappen’s benchmark, but it remains to be seen how much more performance over one lap Mercedes might extract with the hypersofts.

Intriguingly, the average pace of the four drivers from the ‘top six’ to set longer-run lap times (Verstappen, Raikkonen, Hamilton and Bottas) was relatively similar. Their lap times in the mid-1:16’s suggest that there is an advantage to starting on a harder compound, if a team is able to successfully negotiate qualifying with it.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel endured a low-key FP2. He spent a lot of time in the pit lane as Ferrari continually swapped components on the SF71H, which hampered his race simulations. The second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas, who completed his best lap on the ultrasofts, completed the top six.

Romain Grosjean’s bid to score his first points of the season began strongly with the Haas driver finishing FP2 in seventh place ahead of midfield rivals, Force India’s Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez.

Surprisingly, McLaren’s Fernando Alonso elected not to run the hypersoft tyre, but still managed to take a place in the top ten with an ultrasoft tyre lap.

Following a poor start to the day for Renault, who lost a lot of morning running due to a gearbox problem with Nico Hulkenberg’s car, Carlos Sainz had his FP2 session cut short.

The session was red-flagged just before the half-hour mark after Sainz hit the wall, crashing as he exited turn seven. He lost the rear of the car and went backwards into the concrete wall, but he recovered back to the pits with damage to the rear wing, suspension and diffuser. The scattered carbon was enough to send out the red flags.

There was to be further disruption to the session later on when Stoffel Vandoorne also drove too close to the wall. He fell foul of the concrete boundaries on the exit of turn nine, damaging a wheel and possibly the suspension of his McLaren. He parked up on the exit of the hairpin, which brought out a virtual safety car.

Already handed a setback by the delayed delivery of the updated Mercedes power units, Williams’ weekend worsened with incidents for both of their drivers in the opening free practice session.

Local favourite Lance Stroll was the first victim of the ‘Wall of Champions’; he clipped the right rear wheel against the barrier and damaged the wheel rim, causing a puncture and ending his session early.

Added to that, team-mate Sergey Sirotkin lost the rear of the car under braking for turn six and went backwards into the barrier. It was, however, a minor hit and the Russian could recover to the pit lane. It was further evidence that Williams are struggling to find a good balance at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

1 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault 1m12.198s – 39
2 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m12.328s 0.130s 42
3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m12.603s 0.405s 17
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m12.777s 0.579s 39
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m12.985s 0.787s 24
6 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m13.061s 0.863s 40
7 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1m13.620s 1.422s 34
8 Esteban Ocon Force India/Mercedes 1m13.747s 1.549s 40
9 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m13.754s 1.556s 40
10 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Renault 1m13.668s 1.668s 30
11 Charles Leclerc Sauber/Ferrari 1m13.884s 1.686s 39
12 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso/Honda 1m13.889s 1.691s 42
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1m13.956s 1.758s 39
14 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m13.967s 1.769s 37
15 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m14.108s 1.910s 41
16 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren/Renault 1m14.167s 1.969s 14
17 Carlos Sainz Renault 1m14.433s 2.235s 9
18 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso/Honda 1m14.486s 2.288s 39
19 Lance Stroll Williams/Mercedes 1m14.703s 2.505s 40
20 Sergey Sirotkin Williams/Mercedes 1m14.782s 2.584s 35

By: Luke Murphy

All images: Motorsport Images

Who do you think is looking strong in Canada so far? Leave your comments in the section below.

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How about that GRO on GRO action?


GROsjean on GROundhog of course.


I went to FP2 James.

Was my feedback of what I heard in FP2 in Montreal not on subject with this post about FP? 🙂


So what’s up Kenneth? Apparently no penalties for RIC at this point.

You telling me that RBR doesn’t know how to milk a story?

Or that Newey is not a master at “bending” things? FIRE! Ha ha ha. 🙂


@ Sebee…c’mon now, you’re wimping it, Is Adrian Newey a liar as you suggest or is he not? Your call…..


This all is crap, just a normal friday testing, when have we seen ferrari show their true pace in friday practice ,come saturday it will be again ferrari vs mercedes for the pole.


I am sitting at corner 8 for this race, and the Mercedes definitely seem the most planted as they came through. The Renault and the Mclaren looked pretty good too, despite Fernando running Flow-viz quite a bit.


I’d rather wait for the weekend to be over before remarking about Verstappen


Still waiting.


We are waiting…..

Stephen Taylor

Max showing his hand far too early I feel . Merc and Ferrari will be there come qualy . Q3 looks touch and go for McLaren. Williams oh dear surely putting RK in a race seat for the rest of season would make things better- as they would have some direction on car development ? Even if they didn’t fancy RK for a race drive mid way through 2018 or for 2019. they need someone with experience to help develop the car in 2019 – maybe if a certain Finn is let go by Maranello maybe they should give that driver and his manager a call and offer a 2019 drive?


Happy for Max, although it is still early and Merc haven’t put the hyper on yet, so the pressure hasn’t really wound up yet.

I saw some footage of practice…I can believe the amount of dirt there is on the track offline!!

Nice to see Hartley improving in P2…it must be crappy knowing your boss is openly coveting other drivers for your seat.

I have a sinking feeling over Dans prospects in this race…it seems like he’s got a bucket of second hand bolts in the back, and I’m feeling like we might see a mechanical dnf….


@ LKFE…yes, i must admit to sharing some of your apprehension. His time lost in the garage shows and he himself has touched on it although, as Ricciardo has said, Verstappen got it all together and drove well.


So after Friday’s happenings, it looks like we have 3 teams that are well place to fight for the top spot. I hope that it will hold true today and tomorrow. Pity l won’t be able to follow either qualifying and race as it happens, but I will try to keep away from knowing the results and l hope to catch a replay at a more convenient hour. Marc


I còuld have sworn Lewis set his best time on the red striped super soft tyres, two compounds harder than what the top three set their times on. Which makes the fact that he was only half a second or so slower somewhat ominous for the rest.


Agreed – Hamilton set his fastest lap on SuperSoft!
Don’t know why this website didn’t get it right?
Think Hamilton will still be in for the win this weekend!


You can do it Grosjean!!! Still rooting for the guy and hoping he scores some big points this weekend. Max will definitely be up there tomorrow challenging but still think this is Vettel’s who seem to always pull out it at the last moment. Ham looks strong as expected but not sure he will be strong enough. Qually should be good.


Hi James, I thought Hamilton did his best time on supersofts?


Apologies, we thought we’d seen an improvement on the ultrasofts, but yes his best time was on the supersofts.


Both RB’s are quick, but I don’t think Mercedes have come out to play yet.

The surprise ATM, is Leclerc & Hartley going well, & the 2 Renaults not going well.


Well done Max for a clean FP1 and FP2, this is a good result so far, putting more pressure on Merc but like always, the special button could gatecrash that outcome in qualifying. Race pace could be very strong. Max may not need to headbutt anyone after Montreal after all. 😉 I’m not hopeful on Ric’s car, typical engine reliability could pop it’s head out like a Groundhog to ruin the race. I hope the team can manage it.



Is that how far we’ve come. We have to congratulate max for having a clean practice session, even on a Friday!😉


Well, I’m a Riccy fan – I would rather encourage Max to not crash on his competitors and ruin their race hey. Other wise it could be a depressing whole season the way it’s going…


Well he just qualified 3rd, so come the race expect to see some gold stars on his car 🙂


“Well done Max for a clean FP1 and FP2”

Yes, the ability to complete a couple practice sessions without crashing will help his ambitions no end 🙂


We could see many teams start on the harder compound, but I hope not. To be honest many races hve been “saved” by a safety car, despite the fact we have three teams in the top, very close in performance. So let’s hope for a interesting race. At least overtaking should not be an issue.


Who agrees that the racing would be more varied if teams could select ANY combination of the Pirelli tire compounds? Some would bring hypersofts for a qualy focus even though it might hurt in the race.


I’m not sure it would make much of a difference, or if there was a difference it would be short lived. There’s such a premium on qualifying I would expect all the top runners to bring hypersofts to qualify on and hope for the best.


Sorry to contradict a small part of this report: Lance Stroll is neither local nor favorite here in Montreal.


Oh snap…


With the potential for Ricciardo to be hit by grid penalties for a component change I think it’s beyond time that the regulations where changed to penalise the constructor rather than the driver. F1 rabbits on constantly about it being a team sport – well apply the penalties to those in control of whatever the penalty is for. A driving infraction – to the driver. A car issue – the constructor not the driver.

Moving to penalty constructor points would also reward teams who can build a reliable but perhaps slower car who’s drivers have put in good performances through the year by allowing the team to leap frog better performing but less reliable cars through the penalty points that the less reliable constructor would attract once they exceeded their component limits.

Or apply bonus points per race that a team can get through without any component changes and have the bonus points increase per consecutive race. So if you can get through 3 races without any component changes you get the default bonus + some additional increment as recognition of building a reliable car.


I disagree, i think things were broadly ok when you had 5-6 engines for the year, but not now.

Also, in this scenario, teams who don’t really care about the constructors (coughFerraricough) could just assign a new engine every race.


“I am one of the best to have raced in F1” ~ Fernando Alonso

I’m not disagreeing with Fernando, but I can only imagine the extent of the Internet meltdown if Hamilton had said that about himself.


Because the world is used to Alonso blowing his own trumpet. Hamilton may not be modest, but he’s certainly more diplomatic than Mr. 9.5…


@ KRB well that’s because he would be laughed outta town.


… to where you reside? 😃


I wouldn’t even bother imagining KRB. Some things in life are permanent, and misquoting LH is one of them. But of course, some people love it😉


@ James K…Misquoting? Que?


He doesn’t have to say it.

He has angel wings tattooed on his back. Now halo to go along with them.

Worshipeth the ground uponeth which Lewis walketh!


My favourite response:

“I am one of the best to have raced in F1…

…at making terrible decisions”


Krb, Ha ha, there would be a puddle of melted plastic where the internet used to be!


Wow! wasn’t expecting to see that result when I woke up this morning.

Qualifying is going to be interesting


Encouraging that only the 3 top teams ahead of a Haas.

We’ve got-um right where we want them.


Impressive work from the Red Bull team and in particular Max as he topped a session for the first time in 2018

But as Horner said, the only thing missing from the Red Bull arsenal is the Rock n’ roll mode to help them qualify at the front

Ferrari look handy too as they finished P2 but perhaps Ferrari upgrades haven’t worked as planned seeing as it was Kimi who was ahead

Great work by Mercedes who put in some strong times on the slower tyres which means we once again have a 3 way fight for honours

Haas are looking like the best of the rest with Force India in the vicinity

As for Mclaren, unlike Monaco, they aren’t looking like they will make it to Q3 seeing as Stoffel was quite off the top 10 and this being a power circuit


Mercedes looking fast on slower tyre.

Think they are going to try and get to Q3 on the slower tyre and try a similar plan for the hypersoft they attempted last time around.

Good result by Max after the Head Nut Crisis aka The Glasgow Kiss.

Unlucky Sainz

Cannot see Stroll at Williams after this season. He just isn’t enjoying it. Think he’ll be gone after 2019 before William says bye.


He just isn’t enjoying it

There are some things money just can’t buy BKF😄


He’ll be fine

Daddy will find him a seat in some other motorsport, or just by him his own team.

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