Nico Rosberg has taken his Mercedes GP W02 quickest around the Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve in the opening practice session for this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix. With team-mate Michael Schumacher third-fastest and the two Ferraris completing the top-four-fastest positions in the session, this has already set tongues wagging that we could be in for an unusual weekend.
The big talking point of the session was Sebastian Vettel, who became the latest champion to clobber the infamous ‘Wall of Champions’ at the final chicane. The German had completed just eighth laps of the circuit before his smash, and he had to sit out the remainder of the session.
With rain forecast to hit the circuit over the weekend, conditions were better as the running got underway at 10:00AM local time.
As a portent of things to come in what would be an action-packed and incident-filled ninety-minute session, Jarno Trulli was almost immediately returning his Lotus to the pits with a damaged front wing, courtesy of collecting a bird on the back straight.
With grip being next to non-existent on this semi street circuit, a number of drivers found themselves making off-track excursions as they explored the limits of adhesion. Nico Rosberg and Jaime Alguersuari both had slides over the Turn 8 grass, while Nick Heidfeld enjoyed a quick spin at Turn 2 after getting on the power too quickly.
With Alonso, Schumacher, Hamilton and Massa all enjoying turns at the top of the timesheets before the red flags came out to clean up the mess after Vettel’s accident, Alonso lowered the benchmark in the final half-hour before Nico Rosberg turned up the wick and posted the session’s fastest time with seven minutes to run in the session.
Finishing fifth- and sixth-fastest were the two McLarens of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton – Hamilton having his steering column replaced during the session after his LED display on his steering wheel packed it in. Button had his rear wing changed after experiencing problems with his DRS.
2011 Canadian Grand Prix – Free Practice 1 Session Times:
|1.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes GP W02||1:15.591||32|
|2.||Fernando Alonso||Ferrari F150° Italia||+ 0.548||27|
|3.||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes GP W02||+ 0.958||30|
|4.||Felipe Massa||Ferrari F150° Italia||+ 1.067||26|
|5.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-26||+ 1.085||20|
|6.||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren Mercedes MP4-26||+ 1.251||19|
|7.||Rubens Barrichello||Williams Cosworth FW33||+ 1.399||28|
|8.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes VJM04||+ 1.703||26|
|9.||Nick Heidfeld||Renault R31||+ 1.854||28|
|10.||Nico Hülkenberg||Force India Mercedes VJM04||+ 1.958||20|
|11.||Sergio Pérez||Sauber Ferrari C30||+ 2.071||27|
|12.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Renault RB7||+ 2.229||30|
|13.||Jaime Alguersuari||Toro Rosso Ferrari STR6||+ 2.867||31|
|14.||Vitaly Petrov||Renault R31||+ 2.915||15|
|15.||Daniel Ricciardo||Toro Rosso Ferrari STR6||+ 3.057||35|
|16.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Renault RB7||+ 3.261||8|
|17.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Cosworth FW33||+ 3.341||20|
|18.||Jarno Trulli||Lotus Renault T128||+ 3.683||29|
|19.||Heikki Kovalainen||Lotus Renault T128||+ 3.831||30|
|20.||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber Ferrari C30||+ 3.986||26|
|21.||Jérôme d’Ambrosio||Virgin Racing Cosworth MVR-02||+ 4.247||31|
|22.||Vitantonio Liuzzi||HRT F1 Cosworth F111||+ 4.369||23|
|23.||Timo Glock||Virgin Racing Cosworth MVR-02||+ 4.929||21|
|24.||Narain Karthikeyan||HRT F1 Cosworth F111||+ 5.248||27|
[Image via Sutton Images]