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Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix 2024

Norris heads Ferrari duo as Montreal hit by four seasons in one day

Hail, rain and sun hit the start to the Canadian GP weekend but at least there was some running in FP1 that also included a red flag.

Hamilton Canada
Article
To news overview © XPBimages

Lando Norris spearheaded a Ferrari one-two in an opening practice session for the Canadian Grand Prix that was hit by four seasons in one day.

It was the wet start to the weekend that had been anticipated but not perhaps to the extent that unfolded 75 minutes before the opening hour-long session commenced as the venue was lashed by a hailstorm.

As the clock ticked towards the start, vehicles were on track trying to clear the high levels of standing water, while numerous marshals were on hand with blowers and brooms to sweep the leaves off to the side.

The water, though, remained an issue. Although the session started on time, race control decided the pit lane would remain closed for safety reasons.

Extensive work continued to clear the track whilst the safety and medical cars conducted checks until a start time of 13:51 local (18:51 BST) was finally confirmed, even though forecasted rain again started to fall.

Zhou brings out the red flags

Lewis Hamilton was the first to take to track in his Mercedes on intermediate tyres. The seven-time champion even found time to wave to the fans braving the conditions in the grandstands on what was very much an exploratory initial lap.

On his second tour, and around a circuit resurfaced over the winter, Hamilton described the grip as "very low" before posting the first time on the board of 1:40.077s before finding traction to lower his mark to 1:36.654s.

Former Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas was next out in his Stake, albeit on full wets, only to quickly suggest that intermediates were the way to go.

McLaren's Lando Norris also ventured out on full wets and set purple times in the first two sectors before returning to the pits and taking on inters, just at a time when the sun finally made an appearance.

After switching to intermediates, Bottas comfortably moved to the top of the timesheet with a lap of 1:33.215 before team-mate Zhou Guanyu brought out the red flags after just 11 minutes of running.

Coming out of the long Turn 5 right-hander, Zhou lost the rear of his Stake, hitting a wall on the left-hand side and damaging the rear suspension, in particular, as well as the front wishbones.

Doohan endures damp squib

With 23 minutes, and under predominantly blue skies, the session resumed, with Max Verstappen the third driver to set a time, but nine seconds behind Bottas.

As the benchmark was lowered by a number of drivers as the minutes ticked by, Hamilton was the first to dip below the 90-second mark with a lap of 1:29.207, which was soon bettered by Ferrari's Carlos Sainz, and then team-mate Charles Leclerc to 1:27.560.

Sainz managed to pip Leclerc by 0.075s before opting to box and end his session with 13 minutes remaining to preserve tyres after being informed, in answer to a question, that more rain was forecast for FP2.

At that stage, a dry line had started to appear, and with the sun beating down, there was a lull before Leclerc was the first out on soft tyres with just under six minutes remaining.

The rest of the field followed but the majority of the laps that unfolded were merely exploratory to get a feeling for the red-striped Pirelli rubber on the new track.

Norris managed to set the bar with a 1:24.435, followed by Sainz, 0.328s adrift, followed by Leclerc and Hamilton, with Verstappen two seconds adrift.

For Jack Doohan, his session comprised just three installation laps. The Australian stepped into the Alpine for Esteban Ocon, who will be leaving the team at the end of the season.

Doohan is in the running as a replacement but hopes of getting further F1 mileage under his belt after taking part in previous FP1 runs were wrecked by the weather and Alpine playing it safe to preserve the car and rubber.

Doohan was one of three drivers who did not set a time, along with Zhou and Williams' Alex Albon.

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