RACE DEBRIEF

    A round-up of the opening day's events from the Formula 1 Grand Prix Heineken du Canada 2018 at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve...

    Red Bull

    Verstappen answered his critics in style by topping both practice sessions and more importantly, keeping his RB14 out of the barriers. Ricciardo suffered suspected power unit issues which meant a lengthy wait in FP2 while mechanics made changes to his car. Once released with twenty minutes to go, he managed an impressive P3.

    Daniel Ricciardo - FP1: 1:13.518, P3; FP2: 1:12.603, P3

    “We didn’t have the smoothest day and we had what looks like an electrical problem with the engine. We had some problems this morning which they tried to fix during lunch, but it didn’t improve so we had to try and fix them this afternoon. The problem doesn’t look related to the issue in Monaco or anything that could cause a penalty. We have the upgraded engine this weekend and I think there are still a few things to be configured on that front. We managed to get a few laps in at the end of FP3 and I did enough to feel what the car was like. We learned a bit and I know the direction I want to go set-up wise. A bit frustrating to not get too many laps in but hopefully tomorrow will be issue-free and we will make more progress. In my opinion Mercedes look really strong, the time they did on the ultrasoft was quick and on the hypersoft I think they would have been doing 1m11s. It’s positive that Max’s pace is good, so hopefully we can have a better day tomorrow.”

    Max Verstappen - FP1: 1:13.302, P1; FP2: 1:12.198, P1

    “Today was a good day, the car is working very well. We did not really change a lot initially and that’s always a good sign and gives you hope. I think we looked quite competitive and it was a positive start to the weekend. Mercedes was very quick, but I think we are not too far away. The tyres worked well, we were quite fast and to see it in the long run, we can be even faster. The car did everything it should do, it started well straight away so I just followed the track. We are still lacking a bit of top speed, but we can make some improvements and tonight we will see what we can do. But so far everything went well and I have a good feeling.”

    Mercedes

    Mercedes didn't run the hypersoft tyre, having bought fewer of that compound to this race than their rivals. Nonetheless both drivers were happy with their set ups and on the ultrasoft rubber, were not too far adrift. That could bode well for an alternative strategy come qualifying...

    Lewis Hamilton - FP1: 1:13.390, P2; FP2: 1:12.777, P4

    "It's been a beautiful day, the weather has been fantastic and the track feels better than ever. It's such a fun track to drive and we didn't have any problems, I really enjoyed it. A lot of fans came out as well so it's been a nice Friday. The fact that we now have an additional DRS zone in Montreal means that we can think about running more wing this year. In previous years we would run a low downforce setting here, whereas now it's kind of normal, so the car feels great through the corners. Straight out of the box today I think we started right with the car set-up. There were some things that we needed to adjust along the way making small incremental changes, from one time-out to another it always felt a bit different, but it's been good. I believe that the gap in the time sheets is down to the different tyre choices today, but we will find out tomorrow. Hopefully we'll get a good feeling when we first take the HyperSofts for a spin in FP3 tomorrow and it's not too different to what we've been driving today."

    Valtteri Bottas - FP1: 1:13.617, P5; FP2: 1:13.061, P6

    "It was a good day here in Montreal even though it may not look that strong on the time sheets for us. Ferrari and Red Bull were running the HyperSoft tyres which we will only start using tomorrow so that's why our times didn't look that good today. So we should be there or thereabouts. Of course our competitors have a bit of an advantage with the new engines, but I think it will be a close qualifying tomorrow. The track was very dirty today, as soon you go off the line you lose a lot of grip for the next half a lap or so. So we need to be very precise when we drive around the track, especially through the chicanes. I think we've learned a thing or two from Monaco about the HyperSofts, so hopefully we can make them work tomorrow. The balance of the car was really good from the start today, so we only had to do some fine tuning. The car felt good straight out of the garage. Tomorrow we will find out how good it is."

    Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director

    "Overall we've had a fairly straightforward day, the car has run reliably and it was just the red flags and virtual safety cars that caused us to have to adapt the plan a little. The car balance has been good from the first run so it has just been a case of small balance tuning to keep the car in the right window as the track grip came up. It's difficult to judge our single lap pace from today as we haven't run the HyperSoft and some of our closest competition looked to have had less than perfect sessions. However, comparing on the same tyres, we do look to be in better shape than we were in Monaco. The long runs seem consistent, with the tyres behaving normally although as always, Ferrari and Red Bull look to be very similar pace and we'll need to wait until Sunday to see how we actually stack up."

    Williams

    Williams didn't have the best of starts - Stroll was the first driver to make contact with the Wall of Champions, suffering a puncture as a result. Sirotkin later spun and hit the barriers. Both cars were fixed in time for FP2 but they lacked pace around the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve and propped up the timesheet.

    Lance Stroll - FP1: 1:16.259, P18; FP2: 1:14.703, P19

    "It was a typical Friday. We did a lot of laps, and some good information has been absorbed. Tonight, we just have to break it down and get ourselves in the best shape going into tomorrow. It was a bit unfortunate this morning brushing the wall, but it is the name of the game and you have to find your limits. It is part of practice as you have got to find every inch and tomorrow we will see where we can be. We looked decent on the long runs, but we will see where we are on Sunday."

    Sergey Sirotkin - FP1: 1.15.768, P17; FP2: 1:14.782, P20

    "It was a tough session and we have a lot of room for improvement. This morning wasn’t too bad and even though we weren’t in the quickest position, we knew where we could easily gain more lap time. FP2 didn’t go so well and I struggled to get anything out of the tyre. However, we can draw on some positives, we have a lot to go through tonight so we are clear on what to do tomorrow."

    Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering

    "This morning we concentrated on aerodynamic development in the realms of the front end of the car. We collected lots of important data which will be fed into the development programme and we made some good discoveries. We incurred a bit of damage with drivers pushing to the limits straight away this morning, but this afternoon went smoothly and we collected tyre data on both low and high fuel. We looked more competitive on the high fuel but we have gained an understanding of where we need to improve on low fuel to be more competitive. There is a lot of work to do tonight and we will aim for a clean day tomorrow in preparation for qualifying."

    Ferrari

    Vettel sat out a portion of both practice sessions as his team altered the set up of his car, but despite reduced running he was still in the mix. Raikkonen was the workhorse for the team, completing a large number of laps and running Verstappen close in FP2 on the hypersoft tyres. He is well placed to take that form into tomorrow whilst Vettel is playing catch up.

    Sebastian Vettel - FP1: 1:13.574, P4; FP2: 1:12.985, P5

    “We’re not far off although I am not entirely happy yet and there’s still some work to do. In the end I didn’t do many laps today and I think we were running a bit late. It is difficult to get to know all the answers, I think we need some more time to get everything together and then we’ll see what happens. We tried various things, but there’s still something we have to work on. I didn’t get into the rhythm, but tried to go through as much of the programme as we could. In the end, we need more time to get a better picture of the situation. Hopefully, putting everything together can help us tomorrow. Now we’ll stay focused on the work to do”.

    Kimi Raikkonen - FP1: 1:13.727, P6; FP2: 1:12.328, P2

    “This track is not the easiest to get things where you want them. It’s not straightforward and we expected that. It’s very bumpy, not just with all the bumps, but also with the kerbs to ride over. The combination of low downforce and low grip can make it very difficult. As for the hypersoft tyres, at least we have a better idea of how they work. They’re good on one lap and then last quite a few more. We’ve been improving during the day and that proves that we’re going in the right direction. For sure we have some work ahead of us, but I was a bit happier at the end of the session”.

    Force India

    Reserve driver Latifi sat in for Perez in FP1 and had a clean first ever session. The Mexican jumped back in the cockpit for FP2 and along with his team mate, was firmly in the top ten mix. That bodes well for Force India in a congested midfield as they look to get both cars into Q3 in qualifying for the second race running.

    Sergio Perez - FP2: 1:13.754, P9

    “I’m happy with the feeling of the car. I got up-to-speed quickly this afternoon and it feels like we have good potential for the weekend. I think there is more speed to come, which hopefully we will find tonight to be ready for qualifying. The track was changing a lot during the session and it should keep improving tomorrow as well. The long run pace was strong and I think we can have a competitive weekend.”

    Nicholas Latifi - FP1: 1:17.145, P19

    “Making my practice debut at home was a special feeling and I’m happy with the session. I’m still learning about the VJM11 and I had to learn the track so to keep my nose clean was important. We started on hypersofts and then moved to ultrasofts, so I was still learning the track when on the best tyre. I was leaving some margin to avoid doing something silly while I was still building my confidence. Lap times were not really my goal today and I was just focussing on doing my job for the team. For example, we did lots of aero runs to give the team the data we needed. Jumping from an F2 car to a Formula One is always enjoyable and I am looking forward to other opportunities to be in the car in the future.”

    Esteban Ocon - FP1: 1:15.071, P11; FP2: 1:13.747, P8

    “I feel satisfied with today. They were not easy sessions because the track was so dirty and it was easy to make mistakes, but we managed to stay out of trouble. There was massive track evolution as well, which makes it difficult to understand the tyres. We just need to wait and see where we are tomorrow but Q3 definitely looks realistic. We need to keep working, keep pushing and see where we end up tomorrow.”

    Otmar Szafnauer, Chief Operating Officer

    “It’s very tight in the midfield, but the long run pace of both cars was encouraging. We still need to improve our low fuel pace, but the drivers are generally happy with the feel of the car. Nicholas did a very good job during his first FP1 session with the team and gave helpful feedback, which allowed Sergio to be on the pace straight away in the afternoon despite limited track time. Track evolution made it tricky evaluating the tyres, but we have collected all the data we need to guide our decision-making this evening.”

    Haas

    Haas had both cars in the garage for much of FP1 as they opted to change the set up, but once released they seemed to have found the pace that deserted them last time out in Monaco. Grosjean did suffer front wing damage after tangling with some of Canada's local wildlife, but other than that it was a productive day for the American outfit.

    Romain Grosjean - FP1: 1:15.119, P12; FP2: 1:13.620, P7

    “It’s been a pretty good day. We had FP1 and we learned quite a bit about the new upgrade, then in FP2 the car behaved nicely. We tried all three different (tyre) compounds between the two cars – there’s some more work to do, but it’s been encouraging. The new aero package does suit me pretty well. It’s an amazing circuit. I really like the feeling I get here. It’s not easy to find a balance, and the racing line is always changing. The grip is coming up during the weekend, but I really always enjoy driving here. Then at the end, unfortunately, an animal decided to cross the straight line. I did follow the advice – I didn’t steer to avoid it but, unfortunately, we had contact. It was high speed. I couldn’t do anything to avoid it.”

    Kevin Magnussen - FP1: 1:15.579, P15; FP2: 1:13.956, P13

    “I had an okay day. I think FP1 was a bit difficult. We didn’t quite understand the tires. It improved a little bit in FP2. We’re still learning, and we still need to analyze more for tomorrow. We’ll find some answers tonight about the tyres. The tyres are the big subject here in Montreal. I think if we can find some answers with that and get a clear picture of what temperatures we need and how it laps – that’s going to be the most important thing.”

    Guenther Steiner, Team Principal

    “There’s still some work to do, but FP2 was definitely a better session than FP1. We’re going in the right direction to understand the upgrade. We were unlucky – Romain hit some kind of animal, which cut short his session and did a lot of damage to the car. Nevertheless, we are working hard for tomorrow, trying to get back where we want to be.”

    Toro Rosso

    Gasly was the pick of the Toro Rosso drivers in FP1, solidly making it into the top ten. Hartley then turned the tables in the second practice session, with P12 to his team mate's P18. With one session left to hone their set ups, can Toro Rosso find the consistency to challenge towards the front of the midfield pack?

    Pierre Gasly - FP1: 1:15.004, P10; FP2: 1:14.486, P18

    “It was great to discover a new track in Montreal and it was a positive beginning to the weekend. It’s a really good, exciting, and challenging circuit… I really enjoyed my first laps around here! We finished 10th in FP1 which was a good beginning, and the car felt pretty good from the first few laps of the session. With the hotter conditions in the afternoon the car still behaved well. However, we had a couple of issues on my short run, so we didn’t get to show the true pace the car has. I think we’re in the fight for the top 10 as Brendon’s times show. We need to work a bit tonight, but I’m feeling good with the car, so we just need to find the little tunings to make it a close fight tomorrow!”

    Brendon Hartley - FP1: 1:15.756, P16; FP2: 1:13.889, P12

    “It was a good first day and experience for me in Montreal. It’s a very difficult circuit, especially in the first session as the track was very dirty. I enjoyed driving my first laps here, although there were a few challenges. I went straight through the chicanes a couple of times, but we kept it out of the wall which was good! In FP1 we had a couple of small issues on my car which were nothing major, and everything was resolved for FP2. We also ran a few experiments on the aerodynamic side, which was a positive step in the second session as we got the car in a good window. There was some fine tuning to help the traction as that’s quite significant around here. All of the corner exits are very important and there’s a few long, combined exit phases. I think there’s still some more time to find but we’re definitely in the mix of the midfield battle.”

    Jonathan Eddolls, Chief Race Engineer

    “Overall I’d say it was a fairly productive Friday for us in Canada. Neither of our drivers knew the track, so coming here – similar to Monaco – the plan was to give the drivers lots of laps with a car that is as consistent as possible. We’ve obviously fitted our next new power unit here, being an updated power unit we needed to carry out the normal mapping work, and everything is working completely as expected. There’s been no issues and the driveability is very good. In the first session we ran some mechanical and aerodynamic tests, trying to find the best compromise with the setup on this track. Everything behaved as expected in the first session, we made some further changes for FP2, in particular with Pierre’s car. It was a fairly standard plan in FP2, Brendon had a very good session and his finishing position reflects that. I think the setup changes we made went a bit too far for Pierre. He wasn’t 100% comfortable with the car so he wasn’t quite able to get a lap together, which is why he finished lower on the timesheets. We know if we string it all together and get the setup optimised we can improve that. The Hypersoft was struggling a bit with graining and degradation, so I think many teams were suffering with that. On our car the Hypersoft looked fairly under control. There’s a lot for us to go through tonight to decide the best setup tomorrow, and to decide the right strategy direction for Sunday.”

    Toyoharu Tanabe, Honda F1 Technical Director

    “We are running updated PUs on both cars, with the changes mainly linked to the ICE and so far, everything is working as it should, which is encouraging for the rest of the weekend. Apart from that, we worked on our usual Friday programme of finding the best settings for the PU at this circuit. The two sessions were trouble free and so we were able to run through all our planned programme.”

    McLaren

    A mixed day for McLaren. Alonso looked competitive, finishing in the top ten in both sessions despite only running the ultrasoft tyre in FP2. Vandoorne was also on the pace until he drifted too far wide and clipped the wall in FP2, breaking his suspension and ending his involvement in proceedings.

    Fernando Alonso - FP1: 1:13.900, P7; FP2: 1:13.866, P10

    “It felt quite positive today. The car felt good straight away from FP1, and then we concentrated a little bit more on long runs and set-up in FP2, and I think we’re happy. The car seems competitive here, now we need to deliver the result tomorrow in qualifying.

    “On this circuit, you need to prioritise race pace, because you can overtake here so you need to be strong on Sunday. It’s not worth putting all your efforts in on Saturday because there are no points in qualifying, but I think Q3 is possible tomorrow.

    “We didn’t have any big issues with the balance – we hardly touched the set-up, we just did some aero tests with the new parts we brought out here and we will now sit down, analyse the data and optimise the car for tomorrow.

    "I tested the Hypersoft only in FP1 and it’s difficult to say how it really is, but maybe it’s a little bit better than expected, as the graining so far is not too bad. It’s definitely the quickest tyre over one lap.

    “The race will be interesting with some people going for one stop and some for two using the Hypersoft, and that opens a window to creativity, so let’s see if we can optimise that.”

    Stoffel Vandoorne - FP1: 1:14.311, P9; FP2: 1:14.167, P16

    “It’s actually been a reasonable day today. I had an unfortunate touch with the wall in FP2 which cut our day a little bit short, but in general it’s been a positive day. We were quite competitive in FP1, and in FP2 we were looking pretty good as well. We didn’t really run the Hypersoft in FP2. Looking at all that, I think it’s been a good day and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.

    “The balance was a bit up and down for me as we tried a lot across both cars today, which was very good learning from the new bits we have here. Tomorrow we’ll put everything in the right spec and I feel confident we’ll be in good shape.

    “This track is always a bit of a compromise: there are a lot of straight lines and a lot of tight chicanes, and you really need to be able to position the car well. There’s always a balance to strike with the set-up, and we have to see what the best is for the race.

    “When I hit the wall it wasn’t because anything was out of control, I was just a little bit too ambitious. I clipped the wall and unfortunately it caused a puncture. Despite that, the feeling today in the car was positive and we did some decent laps.”

    Eric Boullier, Racing Director

    “Although our running this afternoon was cut prematurely short on Stoffel’s side of the garage when he tagged the wall in FP2, we can be satisfied with the work we’ve completed today to test a number of new configurations on both our cars in today’s sessions.

    “We tested various set-ups and components on both cars in the morning session, and in the afternoon turned our attention to higher-fuel running. The Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve offers fairly unique characteristics for our engineers to tune into, and finding the sweet-spot is a tricky compromise between speed and traction.

    “We’ve amassed a good amount of information and learning about the track and our cars’ behaviour here today, complete with analysis of our power unit upgrades which we plan to put to good use tomorrow in qualifying. The damage on Stoffel’s car isn’t serious enough to affect tomorrow’s programme, however even with a smooth day’s running we know that the competition will be tough. We’ll be pushing hard, as usual, to maximise everything we have at our disposal.”

    Renault

    Renault didn't have the perfect start today - first Hulkenberg parked his R.S.18 track side in FP1 with a box full of neutrals. Worse was to come in FP2 when Sainz spun his car into the wall. A busy day for the mechanics, and much fact finding left to do for both drivers in FP3 if they are to hone their set ups ahead of qualifying.

    Nico Hulkenberg - FP1: No time set, P20; FP2: 1:13.967, P14

    “It was a pretty quiet morning for me once I found my way back to the garage, but the afternoon was far more productive. We weren’t able to run through all of our usual programme because of the missed track time, but we still made progress and know what has to be done to get the car more to my liking for tomorrow.”

    Carlos Sainz - FP1: 1:14.116, P8; FP2: 1:14.433, P17

    “It was a promising morning then a frustrating afternoon. We had made good progress in FP1 and I was happy with the car. In the afternoon, during my second run with the supersofts, I just lost the rear end and couldn’t brake enough before touching the wall. Thankfully, it doesn’t look like there was too much damage but it’s a pity because we could have gathered valuable info from this session. Thanks to my crew for the extra work required today. Tomorrow I think we can still have a good day and I’m already working on it.”

    Bob Bell, Chief Technical Officer

    “It was a difficult day for us with Nico’s gearbox issue in the morning and Carlos tapping the wall in the afternoon. Despite compromising our programme, we have a reasonable idea of the direction we need to take with car set-up and we can recover well for tomorrow. Carlos had a good run in the morning which illustrates the potential of the car, whilst Nico didn’t get a fair run at showing his true potential with the hypersoft tyres."

    Sauber

    Neither Sauber driver had a mistake free session, with both running wide on occasion. But it was Leclerc who looked to have the edge when they stayed on track, finishing P11 in FP2, just 0.018s off of the top ten. Could Sauber spring a surprise and get both cars into Q2?

    Marcus Ericsson - FP1: 1:15.386, P13; FP2: 1:14.108, P15

    “It was a good Friday for us. We completed the planned programme and tried out all of the different tyre compounds between our two cars. Our pace is quite competitive at the moment, and we will be building on that tomorrow. It is fun to be back in Montreal, and I really enjoy driving on this track. Being close to the midfield today means that I can look forward to the rest of the weekend with confidence.”

    Charles Leclerc - FP1: 1:15.439, P14; FP2: 1:13.884, P11

    “It was a positive day overall. As it is my first time driving on this circuit, it took me a few laps to get into the rhythm of it. By the time we headed out for FP2 I felt confident on the track and in the car, and P11 is quite a good result for the first day. We will work on making further improvements, and hopefully we can get a similar result tomorrow.”

    Pirelli

    Mario Isola, Head of Car Racing​

    “Both free practice sessions were interrupted by red flags and virtual safety cars, but we could already see that the hypersoft has a significant performance advantage over the other compounds of more than a second, balanced out by a shorter overall life with higher degradation, which is exactly what we expected of this tyre here. As a result, the teams tried out a number of different combinations of tyre usage during free practice on varied fuel loads, as they explored a number of potential strategy options, which might include running a harder tyre in Q2 tomorrow. On a very different circuit to Monaco, where the track was front-limited, the objective for most teams today was to assess the wear and degradation rate of the hypersoft on a rear-limited circuit that is all about traction. This information will form an integral part of the strategy calculation. Tomorrow’s FP3 session will also be important to collect more data.”

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