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Hamilton sets blistering pace in final practice


Ahead of today's sole practice session the air temperature is 20 degrees C, while the track temperature is 32 degrees. There has been rain, but it stopped some time ago and currently the sun is shining. Indeed, according to Race Control there is only a 20% chance of rain over the next hour, however, looking at the dark clouds in the distance we'd put the chances much higher.

Verstappen is reverting to one of his older engines as the engine he used yesterday is thought to have an MGU-K issue and rather than sped time swapping components the team opted to simply use an old power unit.

Having lost so much time yesterday the drivers will be keen to get to work and acquire as much data as possible, however, with mixed conditions expected during qualifying and again tomorrow for the race, they have their work cut out.

Adding to the fun and games is the fact that the wind has picked up.

The lights go green and Verstappen leads the way, followed by Perez, Russell, Leclerc, Hamilton, Ocon and Sainz. All are on hards.

As more drivers head out, most are on the yellow-banded rubber, while McLaren have opted for hards.

Verstappen crosses the line at 23.833 having had a nap of understeer in the final chicane.

Russell misses the chicane as Perez goes quickest with an 18.096.

"I don't know why but the whole weekend already... this steering... it's super weird for me," says Verstappen.

Gasly crosses the line at 16.412, as Sainz goes third, ahead of Bottas, Leclerc and Sargeant.

Having caused a red flag in yesterday morning's session, Zhou does it again as he goes off and into the barrier at Turn 2.

"I have no idea what is happening with the car," says the Chinese driver, "the car is so strange, it locks up all the rears.

Elsewhere, Sargeant has been noted for not following the escape road instructions.

The session resumes with 50:00 remaining. Gasly is currently quickest, ahead of Ocon, Perez, Zhou, Sainz, Bottas, Leclerc, Sargeant, Hamilton and Russell.

Verstappen once again leads the way, followed by Piastri, Sainz, Leclerc, Russell and Albon.

Stroll and Alonso have switched to hards, as has Tsunoda, while the McLaren pair are on mediums.

Verstappen gets things back underway with a 15.495, as Albon goes fourth (16.987).

On the hards, Alonso goes tenth with a 17.648 as Magnussen goes second with a 16.199.

A 16.210 sees Norris go third, only to be demoted when Ricciardo posts a 15.796.

Alonso goes second with a 15.790, as Albon misses the chicane at 8/9 and like his teammate fails to rejoin the track correctly. Elsewhere, Bottas almost trips up over a McLaren.

"Are the brakes okay," asks Albon after his excursion.

Verstappen improves with a 14.983 but Alonso responds with a 14.870.

Norris goes third and Piastri fourth, as the Mercedes pair slip to 17th and 18th, Mercedes clearly running its own strategy.

Magnussen splits the McLarens with a 15.044, but is demoted when Stroll goers third (15.006).

Alonso improves with a 14.445 as Tsunoda goes sixth.

Perez is impeded by a Haas and is none too happy about it.

Norris goes second but is demoted by Ricciardo (14.780), the action, as expected, fast and furious.

"It's so low, low grip all around," moans Perez.

With the Aston first and third, what is really impressive is that they are both on hards.

"I've got some rear graining," reports Hamilton.

With 34:00 remaining, Sargeant is the first to make the switch to softs.

Perez is currently 19th, down in the nether regions along with the Mercedes and Ferrari duos, all, clearly, with their own agendas.

As Sargeant goes quickest with a 14.355, Sainz, Bottas and Russell make the switch to the red-banded rubber.

Sainz subsequently goes third with a 14.514, as Ricciardo does well to avoid a nosey groundhog.

Russell (softs) crosses the line at 14.279, 0.076s up on Sargeant.

"Still lots of pulling to be honest," says Leclerc, "and still **** on the brakes."

Albon ups the ante with a 13.975, but is demoted when Leclerc stops the clock at 13.581.

Moments later and Hamilton crosses the line at 13.464 as Bottas is noted for driving unnecessarily slowly.

Norris goes second, just 0.011s off Hamilton's pace.

Ricciardo goes sixth (14.013), behind the two Williams.

With 21:00 remaining, Perez remains 19th.

Tsunoda, currently 15th, locks-up at the hairpin.

The Bulls, like the Astons, Alpines and Haas' have yet to try the red-banded rubber.

"Man, what is this guy doing, man," asks Sargeant, of either Hamilton or Sainz who both appear to be annoying him.

Tsunoda improves his time but remains tenth, 0.4s off his teammate's pace. "****, rear is sliding around, man," he reports.

After a brief lull, Russell heads out on fresh softs, as do the Williams pair, as the qualifying sims get underway.

Russell crosses the line at 13.274, 0.190s up on his teammate.

Albon clouts the Wall of Champions, and immediately slows. As he slowly makes his way back to the pits, having damaged his right-rear, teammate Sargeant consolidates his eighth spot with a 13.892.

PBs in all three sectors see Verstappen go second with a 13.289, but Hamilton responds with a 12.549.

Ricciardo goes third with a 13.279, possibly spurred by the comments from a certain world champion yesterday.

"The car is jumping around a lot, up and down, especially into Turns 1, 3 and 4," reports Verstappen.

Alonso can only manage eighth, 1.028s off the pace.

Leclerc goes fifth (13.349), ahead of Piastri and Norris.

Albon is noted for driving in an unsafe condition.

Perez can only manage ninth (13.660).

Magnussen improves to eighth with a 13.439 as Stroll improve to ninth.

Bottas goes eleventh as Ocon can only manage 18th.

"****, **** the Alpine," says Sainz of Gasly. "Yeh, mate," says the Frenchman having been warned of the approaching Ferrari when it was too late.

Perez improves to eighth (13.342) but is demoted when Stroll posts a 13.081 to go second.

A 12.957 sees Russell go second, 0.408s off his teammate's pace.

"What's he doing man, that was nearly huge," says Sargeant as a Red Bull appears to cut right in front of him heading into in the final chicane.

"We are extremely slow," sighs Leclerc.

"I hit a little bit the wall with the right-rear," admits Verstappen who splits the Mercedes pair with a 12.923.

Sainz improves to twelfth with a 13.570.

The session ends. Hamilton is quickest, ahead of Verstappen, Russell, Stroll, Piastri, Ricciardo, Norris, Alonso, Perez and Leclerc.

Magnussen is eleventh, ahead of Sainz, Bottas, Sargeant, Tsunoda, Gasly, Hulkenberg, Albon, Ocon and Zhou.

An excellent session which sets us up nicely for qualifying and tomorrow.

That said, aside from the uncertainty over the weather, on the evidence from this session it is clear that traffic is going to be a major issue this afternoon.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Montreal here.


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