Lewis Hamilton posts fastest time in opening Canadian GP practice session

Auto-racing-Hamilton-drives-during-practice

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain steers his car during free practice. (Joan Monfort/AP)

MONTREAL — Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes was the fastest driver in the first of two practice sessions on a dry and sunny Friday morning at the Canadian Grand Prix.

The four-time world champion set the morning’s quickest lap of one minute 12.767 seconds on the 4.361-kilometre Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

The drivers were back on the track for a second practice run later Friday.

Hamilton, a British driver, edged out Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas of Finland at 1:12.914. Mercedes has triumphed in all six races this season, with Hamilton winning four times and Bottas taking the other two.

All other teams were well off pace of the Mercedes cars on Friday morning.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc of Monaco posted the third-fastest time of 1:13.720 with a few lock-ups throughout the session.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was fourth at 1:13.755. The Dutchman complained the track was "insanely dirty" on the team radio in the early going, suggesting a lack of grip. His car needed a new wing after the first few laps, though it was unrelated to an incident.

Defending Canadian Grand Prix winner Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari was fifth at 1:13.905 while the Alfa Romeo of Kimi Raikkonen came in sixth in 1:13.945.

Montreal native Lance Stroll, in his first Canadian Grand Prix with new team Racing Point, finished 17th of 20 drivers at 1:14.812 — more than two seconds behind Hamilton.

Stroll is looking to end a devastating run of 10 consecutive exits in the first round of qualifying this weekend. He’s also hoping to erase the memory of last year’s Grand Prix in his hometown, when he crashed out of the race in the opening lap.

Stroll wasn’t the only Canadian on the track for the first of two practice sessions.

Williams reserve driver Nicholas Latifi of Toronto finished last, 3.432 seconds off the leader. Latifi, previously with Force India, struggled to maintain full control of his car at times. The 23-year-old F2 driver ran wide on a turn before locking up into the hairpin a few laps later.

Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi’s practice run ended when he lost control of his car on turn nine and spun out, with his left rear tire crashing into the wall.

A third practice session is on Saturday followed by qualifying. The race is on Sunday.

NOTES: Hamilton has won six of the past 11 Canadian Grand Prix races. He is looking for his seventh victory in Montreal, which would tie Michael Schumacher’s record.

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.