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Hamilton leads the way in opening session

NEWS STORY
10/06/2016

Ahead of today's opening practice session, the air temperature is 13 degrees C, whilst the track temperature is 26 degrees C. Unlike yesterday, when it was decidedly chilly, today it is still cool but bright and sunny.

From the tight confines of Monaco we arrive that the Circuit Gilles villeneuve, a series of high-speed straights punctuates by chicanes and hairpins, a circuits where grunt and brakes are vital.

As Nico Rosberg admits that Red Bull is closing in on Mercedes very quickly, the German team has responded with a wide ranging number of updates in its attempt to keep the Austrian team at bay.

Renault and Red Bull will have upgraded engines for both drivers this weekend, whilst Ferrari and Honda have also upgraded their units.

Tyre options are ultrasoft, supersoft and soft, as in Monaco, whilst there are two DRS zones, the first on the straight leading to the final chicane that marks the infamous 'Wall of Champions', and the second on the pit straight just after said wall.

As in Monaco, none of the teams are running reserve or third drivers.

Palmer heads down the pitlane to get things underway, but as he stops to perform a practice start he is overtaken by Grosjean. Gutierrez, Wehrlein, Raikkonen, Haryanto and Magnussen follow. The drivers are running a mixture of softs and supers.

Among the last out is the Mercedes duo, and, as has become the norm, whilst their rivals head back to the pits the silver cars continue. Rosberg posts the first time of the weekend, stopping the clock at 1:30.434.

That said, having posted a time Rosberg heads back to the pits as does teammate Hamilton.

After a brief lull, the Manors break the silence, both drivers on the supers.

The cameras pick up on Alonso talking with Vandoorne, most probably his 2017 teammate.

A 25.231 sees Haryanto go quickest as Wehrlein heads back to the pits having failed to post a time.

As Haryanto improves to 23.056, Ricciardo heads out on softs, followed by Verstappen and Massa.

The Australian posts 18.430 as Haryanto improves again, the Manor driver managing a 21.505.

Ricciardo improves to 17.687 but this is immediately beaten by Massa who posts a 17.065.

A 17.675 sees Verstappen go second, with Bottas leapfrogging the youngster moments later.

No sooner has Verstappen(soft) improved to 16.997 than Raikkonen (super) bangs in a 16.138 and Magnussen misses the final chicane.

Vettel's first lap sees the German go sixth (18.047) as Grosjean is the first driver to try the ultra.

Massa is off and in the barrier at the exact spot he collided with Perez in 2014. The session is red flagged.

Clearly OK, the Brazilian reports that he had a problem, possibly DRS related. "I cancelled the DRS and lost the rear completely," he reports.

Replay doesn't shed any light on the issue. He loses the rear of the car, in what was a heavy crash, but the DRS was closed.

With supreme irony, it should be noted that the barrier Massa crashed into was adorned with Heineken branding.

The session restarts at 10:37 (local time) and Rosberg heads the queue at the end of the pitlane.

Hamilton heads out on the ultras and then returns to the pits. Indeed, the move coincides perfectly with the forty-minute point at which time drivers have to hand back a set of tyres.

Currently it's: Raikkonen, Verstappen, Vettel, Massa, Bottas, Ricciardo, Wehrlein, Haryanto, Nasr and Palmer.

Only 14 drivers have posted times thus far, Hamilton one of those who has yet to do so.

Grosjean finally breaks the deadlock, followed down the pitlane by Wehrlein, Magnussen and Gutierrez. Both Haas drivers are on the ultrasoft rubber.

Grosjean goes seventh on the ultras (17.965), whilst teammate Gutierrez goes twelfth (21.576).

Sainz (supers) goes second (16.543), whilst teammate Kvyat can only manage eleventh (18.177).

Grosjean improves to 17.261 and Gutierrez 17.763.

Bottas posts 16.612 to go third before improving to 16.301 and closing to within 0.163s of pace-setter, and countryman, Raikkonen.

Check out our Friday gallery, here.

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