Hamilton in ‘fighting spirits’ as he praises ‘strong’ Friday for Mercedes in Canada

MONTREAL, QUEBEC - JUNE 07: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas

Lewis Hamilton was left in a buoyant mood after the opening day of action at the Canadian Grand Prix, with the seven-time world champion feeling “really confident” despite mixed conditions during both of Friday’s practice sessions.

Hamilton – who claimed his first-ever win in F1 at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve back in 2007 – ended FP1 in fourth place on the timesheets before finishing FP2 in seventh, having put in plenty of laps throughout the hour in changing weather conditions.

FP2: Alonso goes fastest while Verstappen suffers problems during rain-affected second practice in Canada

Despite not yet having Mercedes’ new front wing on his car – with the team opting to save this for Saturday, having wanted to avoid any potential damage during Friday’s wet weather – Hamilton sounded a positive note after the session.

“It felt great,” the 39-year-old said following FP2. “I was just raring to go every second, kept telling the guys, ‘let’s get out, let’s get out, let’s get out’, so I was rushing my guys, ‘let’s go, let’s go’. Just to maximise time on track, whatever the conditions.

“This is a track where you just have to… It’s building blocks, getting as much time out on track and understanding both conditions, and also the changes they made to the surface and to some of the run-off areas.

“But it was a really good session, the car felt good, the car was feeling strong and I thoroughly enjoyed that session.”

‘I’m in fighting spirits’ insists Hamilton after ‘strong’ first day in Canada

Asked if he had reached the end of the day with the confidence that he had hoped to build, Hamilton responded with a nod: “Yeah. I obviously didn’t get to finish my lap, but yeah.”

And on how the newly resurfaced track had felt, Hamilton reflected on the day’s mixed weather conditions as he explained: “This circuit is amazing, it’s one of the best circuits. Today’s definitely an odd one, it’s like a summer’s day in the UK – it was literally summer this morning, then it rained hailstones!

HIGHLIGHTS: Watch the action from a dry/wet FP2 in Montreal as Alonso sets the pace and Verstappen hits trouble

“I don’t remember the last time I saw hailstones, but they were huge. Then sunny again, really hot and humid and then rain again, so if only we had started the day a bit earlier we could have caught the two good spots in the day.”

In terms of where he and the team are at for the rest of the weekend in Montreal, Hamilton warned that it is “too early to say” but voiced his optimism that Mercedes can be nearer to the battle at the front.

“I feel like I’m in fighting spirits,” the Briton commented. “I feel like the car is reacting to my inputs and, as I said, I feel really confident out there. But we won’t know until we get out in the… Saturday is often a different day for us, but I’m hoping tomorrow’s a good day..

“But I think, in either conditions, I felt really strong today, so I’m really hopeful. I do feel like we are closer to the front this weekend.”

'Car feeling good' for P2 Russell despite tricky conditions

Team mate George Russell also enjoyed his time on track during Friday, with the 26-year-old ending the day in second place on the timesheets.

“It was good fun out there, to be honest,” Russell said after the session. “Difficult to take much learning because every single lap was different conditions, spitting then raining then drying up, which was pretty fun. The car was pretty good, but we’ll only find out tomorrow.”

FP1: Norris leads Sainz and Leclerc during wet first practice in Canada

Elaborating further on the challenges faced during the mixed weather, the British driver added: “I felt confident in these conditions. You need to have faith in the car beneath you to push the limits when it’s constantly changing lap after lap, and I did, to be honest.

“So I think we are in a good place if the conditions continue tomorrow. If it’s fully dry, honestly we have no idea, but as I said, first view is the car is feeling good.”

However, given the lack of learning available from Friday’s weather-affected track time, Russell admits that the approach heading into Saturday may differ slightly to the usual.

“In FP3 you usually focus on your qualifying runs, but we’ll have to focus a bit on our race runs, then focus at the end of the session on our quali runs, then very quickly in between the two session to make changes, because in all honestly there’s not a lot that any driver or team learned today,” the Mercedes driver conceded.

“But there’s a chance the weather will be similar tomorrow, so perhaps…”


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