• Canadian Grand Prix - FP1

Hamilton leads the way in first practice

ESPN Staff
June 8, 2012
Lewis Hamilton waves to the crowd on his outlap on Friday morning © Press Association

Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time of a closely-fought first practice session for the Canadian Grand Prix, with the top 11 drivers covered by less than a second.

Drops of rain fell intermittently throughout the session but the track remained dry enough for 90 minutes of slick-tyre running. Hamilton's 1:15.564 was 0.118s faster than Sebastian Vettel in second with Nico Rosberg a further tenth off Hamilton in third.

However, the threat of rain in the afternoon did coax several drivers onto the super-soft tyres, which are usually saved for second practice and with which Vettel set his fastest time of the morning. Most of the work on the softer tyres appeared to be focussed on long runs and race pace however, with only marginal improvement for most runners.

The session saw a number of small mistakes from a wide range of drivers - including Hamilton and Vettel - but Heikki Kovalainen had the biggest shunt at turn nine. He lost the rear of his Caterham on corner exit and as his right rear tyre hit the wall it pitched the front of the car into the barriers. Kovalainen walked away from the incident unharmed but his car will require a significant rebuild ahead of FP2 and the session had to be red flagged while debris was cleared away.

But Kovalainen was not the only driver to lose time in FP1 as Jenson Button's car failed to leave the garage for the second half of the session with an oil leak. TV pictures showed the gearbox being removed from the car but the team confirmed that it would not incur a penalty. Button completed just 12 laps in total, 18 less than team-mate Hamilton.

Despite the lack of running Button was still tenth fastest, behind Michael Schumacher in ninth, the two Saubers in eighth and seventh, Nico Hulkenberg in sixth, Mark Webber in fifth and Fernando Alonso in fourth. However, with both Lotuses outside the top ten positions, the points-paying positions are likely to become harder to come by as the weekend progresses.

There were also some surprise visitors on the track during the morning with groundhogs, squirrels and a fox all getting slightly closer to the action than the drivers would have liked.