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McLaren the early pacesetters in Canada 08 Jun 2007

Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren Mercedes MP4/22.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6, Canadian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Montreal, Canada, Friday, 8 June 2007

Silver leads red in opening Montreal session

Contrary to the expectations of those who envisaged Ferrari having a clear advantage round Montreal's Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, McLaren held the upper hand - albeit by a scant margin - when the first hour and a half of practice ended on Friday morning ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix.

Fernando Alonso lapped in 1m 17.759s to head the times, with Lewis Hamilton again impressing on a circuit new to him to take second place in 1m 17.967s. A subsequent attempt to go quicker saw the Englishman miss a chicane, something that Kimi Raikkonen also did while trying to improve on his third fastest best of 1m 18.136s in his Ferrari. The Finn’s partner, Felipe Massa, was well in touch too, fourth on 1m 18.167s.

Mark Webber was a surprise fifth for Red Bull, taking his improving RB3 round in 1m 18.301s, then came Giancarlo Fisichella on 1m 18.620s for Renault, Nick Heidfeld on 1m 18.634s for BMW Sauber, Ralf Schumacher on 1m 18.652s for Toyota, David Coulthard in the second Red Bull on 1m 18.717s, and Anthony Davidson who completed the top 10 with 1m 18.896s for Super Aguri. The Englishman’s team mate, Takuma Sato, was right on his heels in 11th with 1m 18.898s, while the remaining runners below 1m 19s were Toyota’s Jarno Trulli (1m 18.925s), Honda’s Jenson Button (1m 19.932s) and Renault’s Heikki Kovalainen (1m 18.997s).

Alex Wurz had Kazuki Nakajima as his Williams partner this morning; the Austrian lapped his FW29 in 1m 19.189s for 15th, the Japanese in a strong 1m 19.373s for 17th. Between them was Scott Speed, who took his Toro Rosso round in 1m 19.234s. Team mate Tonio Liuzzi was only 19th on 1m 20.331s after spending the latter part of the session in the pits. Neither STR2, incidentally, has the seamless-shift transmission that was expected here after all.

Rubens Barrichello was 18th in his Honda on 1m 19.937s, while behind Liuzzi the Spykers came in the order Christijan Albers (1m 21.251s) and Adrian Sutil (1m 21.620s). At the back, Robert Kubica’s BMW Sauber was kept in the pits with mechanical problems and the Pole did not record a time.

There were no serious incidents, but a plethora of missed chicanes as drivers pushed to the limit.