Hamilton sets the pace in Canada
SETTING THE BENCHMARK IN CANADA: McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton set the quickest pace during the first practice session. Could Hamilton end his dry spell in Canada?
MONTREAL, Canada - McLaren's Lewis Hamilton returned to the scene of his first Formula 1 victory and set the quickest lap in opening Canadian Grand Prix practice.
The 2008 world champion, a winner in Montreal in 2007 and 2010 but strangely without a triumph in this most unpredictable of seasons, lapped the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in one minute 15.564 seconds.
Hamilton is a strong favourite to become the seventh different winner in seven races on Sunday and also has his eyes on McLaren's 150th pole.
HEIKKI CRASHES OUT
Red Bull's double world champion Sebastian Vettel was second fastest, 0.118 seconds slower, but ended the morning under investigation for taking a shortcut over the final chicane in overtaking Williams's Bruno Senna.
Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg was third fastest with Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, the current championship leader after six races, fourth and 0.278s off Hamilton's pace.
Red Bull’s Mark Webber, winner in Monaco, lapped fifth fastest.
McLaren's Jenson Button, the 2011 race winner, completed only 12 laps due to an oil leak and was 10th on the timesheets.
The session was red-flagged for 13 minutes when Heikki Kovalainen hit the wall and wrecked his Caterham, spreading debris across the track.
Kovalainen said: "I was carrying a bit too much speed into that corner. I thought I'd got away with it but the rear end snapped away and that was it.
"It was just a small error but it happens sometimes. We have got good mechanics. I don't think the chassis was damaged. It's just about replacing the two corners and we go again in the second session," he said.
Kimi Raikkonen nearly hit a fox in his Lotus, with the animal darting across the track just before the 2007 champion roared past.
First free practice session results at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve:
1. Lewis Hamilton (Britain) McLaren 1min15.564
2. Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Red Bull 1min15.682
3. Nico Rosberg (Germany) Mercedes 1min15.782
4. Fernando Alonso (Spain) Ferrari 1min15.842
5. Mark Webber (Australia) Red Bull 1min15.897
6. Nico Huelkenberg (Germany) Force India 1min15.986
7. Kamui Kobayashi (Japan) Sauber 1min16.000
8. Sergio Perez (Mexico) Sauber 1min16.249
9. Michael Schumacher (Germany) Mercedes 1min16.264
10. Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren 1min16.347
11. Paul Di Resta (Britain) Force India 1min16.460
12. Felipe Massa (Brazil) Ferrari 1min16.619
13. Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela) Williams 1min16.859
14. Romain Grosjean (France) Lotus 1min16.890
15. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Lotus 1min17.014
16. Jean-Eric Vergne (France) Toro Rosso 1min17.352
17. Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Toro Rosso 1min17.580
18. Vitaly Petrov (Russia) Caterham 1min17.935
19. Heikki Kovalainen (Finland) Caterham 1min18.177
20. Pedro de la Rosa (Spain) HRT 1min18.182
21. Bruno Senna (Brazil) Williams 1min18.762
22. Narain Karthikeyan (India) HRT 1min19.354
23. Timo Glock (Germany) Marussia 1min20.004
24. Charles Pic (France) Marussia 1min20.067
Stay with Wheels24 for the Canadian Grand Prix weekend!