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Friday analysis - are Mercedes Montreal's dark horses? 10 Jun 2011

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Canadian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Montreal, Canada, Friday, 10 June 2011 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB7 in the pits.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Canadian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Montreal, Canada, Friday, 10 June 2011 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren celebrates 10,000 lead laps for McLaren with a cake.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Canadian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Montreal, Canada, Friday, 10 June 2011 Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India VJM04.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Canadian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Montreal, Canada, Friday, 10 June 2011 Vitaly Petrov (RUS) Lotus Renault GP R31.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Canadian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Montreal, Canada, Friday, 10 June 2011 Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Williams.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Canadian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Montreal, Canada, Friday, 10 June 2011 Sebastien Buemi (SUI) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR6.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Canadian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Montreal, Canada, Friday, 10 June 2011 Pedro De La Rosa (ESP) Sauber with the media. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Canadian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Montreal, Canada, Friday, 10 June 2011 Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Team Lotus T128. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Canadian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Montreal, Canada, Friday, 10 June 2011 Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes GP MGP W02.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Canadian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Montreal, Canada, Friday, 10 June 2011 Jerome d'Ambrosio (BEL) Virgin Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Canadian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Montreal, Canada, Friday, 10 June 2011 Vitantonio Liuzzi (ITA) Hispania Racing F1 Team (HRT) HRT F111.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Canadian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Montreal, Canada, Friday, 10 June 2011

Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve was taking no prisoners on Friday, as several drivers fell victim to its unforgiving walls whilst acclimatising to the first truly low-downforce track of the season, with the addition of DRS throwing even more spice into the mix. Ferrari led the way, but it might just be Mercedes that Red Bull should be most worried about…

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, 1m 16.139s, P2/1m 15.107s, P1
Felipe Massa, 1m 16.658s, P4/ 1m 15.601s, P3

Alonso repeated his usual Friday mantra of times don’t matter, but the mood at Ferrari is high, no mistake, with the Spaniard fastest and Massa third. Alonso said he was happy on the soft Pirelli, and that he also liked the new medium which will be used in Valencia; the crashes in the afternoon interrupted his running on the super soft, however. Massa also said he had a good day.

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 18.852s, P16/1m 15.476s, P2
Mark Webber, 1m 17.820s, P12/1m 16.102s, P7

Vettel’s day began badly with his low-impact collision with the ‘wall of champions’ in FP1, but he bounced back well to set second fastest time in FP2. He said he was pleased with his RB7’s balance and performance. Webber said the afternoon’s red flags compromised his running and that he just needed to keep chipping away to make his car quicker. They seem pretty confident here.

McLaren
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 16.842s, P6/1m 15.977s, P5
Jenson Button, 1m 16.676s, P5/1m 15.989s, P6

Hamilton said he had a positive day despite the right-rear puncture he picked up from debris in the afternoon. He and Button tested a lot of new components, but he was struggling to get the best balance on his MP4-26. Long-run pace looks good, and the speed is there, but the times are very close between the top four teams. Button was also relatively happy, but said it was difficult to make effective set-up changes due to the two red flags in the afternoon.

Force India
Paul di Resta, 1m 17.294s, P8/1m 16.089s, P6
Adrian Sutil (pm only), 1m 16.905s, P11
Nico Hulkenberg (am only) 1m 17.549s, P10

Di Resta showed his class again with a tremendous performance on his first acquaintance with the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, and said there’s more speed to come from his Force India in low-downforce mode. Hulkenberg did a decent job in the morning, while Sutil caught the Turn 7 wall in the afternoon just when he was beginning to hit his stride.

Renault
Vitaly Petrov, 1m 18.506s, P14/1m 16.324s, P8
Nick Heidfeld, 1m 17.445s, P9/1m 16.422s, P9

Renault had quite a strong day, though Petrov had radio and throttle problems in FP1. He got going better in the afternoon, as he found a good balance on his R30. Heidfeld had no dramas and said that a new rear wing and DRS system worked well, but that his car’s balance needs work.

Williams
Rubens Barrichello, 1m 16.990s, P7/1m 16.687s, P10
Pastor Maldonado, 1m 18.932s, P17/1m 16.941s, P12

Williams had new front and rear wings and a new diffuser to try, and Barrichello was in the top 10 in both sessions. All of the new components worked well together in a productive day.

Toro Rosso
Sebastien Buemi (pm only), 1m 17.051s, P13
Jaime Alguersuari 1m 18.458s, P13/1m 17.684s, P14
Daniel Ricciardo (am only) 1m 18.648s, P15

Buemi said he enjoyed driving the STR6 in low-downforce guise, while Ricciardo said the Red Bull simulator had not done the track justice. He thoroughly enjoyed himself, and the fact that his 19-lap run was the most consecutive laps he’s put together in an F1 car. Alguersuari felt he’d made a step forward in his understanding of the car.

Sauber
Sergio Perez (am only), 1m 17.662s, P11
Kamui Kobayashi, 1m 19.577s, P20/1m 17.757s, P15
Pedro de la Rosa (pm only), 1m 18.536s, P18

Sauber had a tough opening day. Perez looked good with 11th best time in the morning, but then reported that he felt sick and, as a safety precaution, was withdrawn for the rest of the weekend. De la Rosa was called up at short notice and did a decent job in 14 laps in the afternoon. Kobayashi had a difficult day, stuffing his C30 into the Turn 4 wall in the afternoon.

Lotus
Jarno Trulli, 1m 19.274s, P18/1m 18.470s, P16
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 19.422s, P19/1m 18.482s, P17

Lotus had a strong day with both T128s running reliably. Trulli enjoyed that, but Kovalainen said his day felt like one of his toughest Fridays of the year in terms of his car’s balance and overall performance.

Mercedes
Nico Rosberg, 1m 15.591s, P1/1m 18.601s, P19
Michael Schumacher, 16.549s, P3/1m 19.209s, P20

Things were a lot better for Mercedes than their FP2 performance suggested. Rosberg dominated FP1, with Schumacher a strong third, and both felt they had made progress with their race pace. They spent the afternoon doing race work, hence their positions way down the order. Watch out for them in FP3 and qualifying, as Button reckons their DRS system is worth 8 km/h over anyone else’s.

Virgin
Timo Glock, 1m 20.520s, P23/1m 19.810s, P21
Jerome D'Ambrosio, 1m 19.838s, P21/1m 20.922s, P24

Glock said the afternoon’s ‘crash fest’ spoiled his day’s programme as he was doing tyre evaluation and led to a rushed run on super softs. D’Ambrosio’s day ended with the accident right after Sutil and Kobayashi had come to grief.

HRT
Tonio Liuzzi, 1m 19.960s, P22/1m 20.284s, P22
Narain Karthikeyan, 1m 20.839s, P24/1m 20.311s, P23

HRT had a lot of upgrades, which included a new rear wing, exhaust and diffuser. Liuzzi was quick straight away in FP1 and said that the changes had improved the balance and overall speed of the F111. Karthikeyan got going well in the afternoon, as he found his way with the new configuration.

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