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Hamilton leads Russell in Mercedes one-two in Canada practice

An upbeat Lewis Hamilton demonstrated his undimmed vim and speed on Friday when he led George Russell in a Mercedes one-two in a truncated and interrupted day’s practice at the Canadian Grand Prix.

The seven-time world champion topped the times in a best lap of one minute and 13.718 seconds to beat his team-mate by 0.027 seconds, the duo making the most of the best track conditions before heavy rain curtailed the action at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.  

“That was probably the bumpiest circuit we’ve been on for a long time,” Hamilton said. “And it was such a strange day. We missed the first session because of an issue with the circuit’s CCTV or something and I felt bad for the fans.

“The city here is really pumping and there were so many people out there, but I am glad we did finally get out and it was good to have an hour and a half even if we did not use all that time optimally.

“But this track. I love this place. This track is mega. From the moment you leave the pitlane—it’s wicked. My car was not the greatest, but not the worst by far and massively better than last year.

“It’s just so bumpy. We have to improve the ride control and balance in the corners and we should be all right.”

Hamilton has won seven times in Canada, a record he shares with Michael Schumacher. Hamilton is without a win since the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, the last of his record 103 victories. 

Hamilton’s Mercedes team technical director, James Allison, played down expectations despite the success and just 12 days after a double podium finish in Spain.

“It’s nice to be at the front and not the back, but don’t read too much into it,” he told Sky Sports F1. “We did our long run work first and our short runs at the end, when the track was its best before the rain.”

Russell added: “It looks like its going to be wet (Saturday) so let’s see what it brings and try and get a big result here.”

On an unusual day, the opening session was reduced to five minutes action following a technical failure of the circuit’s CCTV systems—a move that resulted in organisers deciding to extend the later second session by 30 minutes. 

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and fellow-Spaniard Fernando Alonso, a two-time champion of Aston Martin, were third and fourth fastest ahead of Charles Leclerc in the second Ferrari and defending double world champion Max Verstappen of Red Bull. 

Verstappen, the runaway leader of this year’s title race, was unperturbed by Friday’s unexpected turn of events. 

He said his car had not felt set up yet for the kerbs and bumps of the track.

“But with the weather, I think we expect there to be a few more surprises to come this weekend.”

Valtteri Bottas was seventh for Alfa Romeo ahead of Sergio Perez in the second Red Bull, local hero Lance Stroll in the second Aston Martin and Pierre Gasly of Alpine, whose driveshaft failure in the opening session caused the original red flag that ended that session.

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