A quick glance at the FP2 timesheets in Canada might lead you to think that Mercedes – who wound up the session with Lewis Hamilton in fourth and Valtteri Bottas in sixth – were on the back foot for the second consecutive race. But that doesn’t quite tell the full story…
Unlike every team bar McLaren, the two Mercedes drivers only ran on the purple-walled ultrasoft tyre and the harder, red-walled supersoft in FP2, having brought a smaller number of the fastest Pirelli tyre of the weekend, the pink-walled hypersoft, to Montreal. But with the speed differential between the ultrasoft and hypersoft said to be around 1.1 seconds around the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, both drivers were licking their lips at the prospect of being let loose on the softest rubber on Saturday and Sunday.
“I think it was a good day, even though it doesn't look that good on the timing sheet for us,” said Valtteri Bottas at the end of Friday’s running, where Red Bull’s Max Verstappen posted the fastest time for the second consecutive session. “Red Bull and Ferrari [were] using the hypers and we're only going to use it from tomorrow onwards, so hopefully we can make it work. We don't know much about it on this track but, yeah, that's why we don't look too good, but it felt okay.
“I think we are there or there abouts, for sure.”
Lewis Hamilton finished FP2 0.579s adrift of Verstappen, but his W09 looked to be extremely well hooked up around the Montreal track. And having claimed the track’s outright lap record of 1m 11.459 with his pole lap last year, the British driver will be keen to go even quicker in 2018.