Max Verstappen set the early pace as practice got underway for the Canadian Formula 1 Grand Prix at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

For the first time since last month’s Spanish Grand Prix, Red Bull Racing did not secure a 1-2 result on the practice timesheets, with championship leader Lewis Hamilton claiming second-quickest ahead of Verstappen’s teammate and Monaco Grand Prix winner Daniel Ricciardo.

Verstappen was on a quest to redeem his reputation, having threatened in Thursday’s FIA Press Conference to “head-butt” any journalist who questioned whether he should change his driving approach after a succession of driving errors since the start of the season.

The Dutch youngster let his driving do the talking with an error-free session around the 4.361-kilometre circuit. He moved to the top of the timesheets before the session’s final half-hour, out-pacing Hamilton’s earlier benchmark lap by over half a second.

After backing off to cool his Hypersoft tyres for one lap, he went even quicker to clock a 1:13.302. Hamilton was also circulating rapidly and chipped his way towards Verstappen’s time. Running the more durable Ultrasoft tyres, Hamilton got to within one-tenth of a second of Verstappen’s effort.

Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas lay third-quickest with his time also coming on the Ultrasoft Pirelli rubber, but the Finn found himself bumped down to fifth on the timing screens as Ricciardo and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel – both running Hypersofts – went quicker. Kimi Räikkönen finished the session sixth-fastest to give the ‘big three’ teams their customary lockout at the top of the time sheets.

‘Best of the rest’ honours went to McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, who waged an entertaining scrap for track position with Räikkönen late in the session. He and teammate Stoffel Vandoorne traded fastest laps early on but were ultimately outpaced as track grip levels improved; Vandoorne finished ninth-fastest behind Renault’s Carlos Sainz Jr.

Sainz’s teammate Nico Hülkenberg languished at the bottom of the time sheets without posting a lap time. His car ground to a halt as he exited the hairpin and despite a number of attempts to get his RS.18 going again, he was forced to abandon his car. The session was briefly red-flagged so a recovery vehicle could be dispatched to retrieve the Renault.

A late effort by Pierre Gasly got his Toro Rosso into the top ten, while teammate Brendon Hartley was seven-tenths of a second slower and 16th-fastest overall after a trip through the Turn 1 run-off.

The session proved rather dramatic for a number of drivers, particularly the struggling Williams team. Local driver Lance Stroll became the latest victim of the ‘Wall of Champions’, clipping the barriers as he exited the final chicane which punctured his right-rear tyre and confined him to just 16 laps for the entire session.

Teammate Sergey Sirotkin outpaced Stroll by over half a second on the time sheets, but the Russian gave the Williams mechanics more work to do when he spun into the barriers at Turn 6 late in the session.

The circuit’s traditional low grip conditions also caught out Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson, who spun his Alfa Romeo Sauber at Turn 8 in the final minutes of the session. The Swedish driver and teammate Charles Leclerc finished the session 13th and 14th quickest, sandwiched by the two Haas Ferraris of Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen.

Force India gave reserve driver Nicholas Latifi time behind the wheel in the opening session in place of Sergio Pérez. The Canadian driver finished the session slowest of those to post a time, almost a second slower than the best effort of his compatriot Stroll.

Friday’s second practice session gets underway at 14:00 local time (GMT -4).

Driver Team / Entry Time Gap Laps
1. Max Verstappen Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB14 1:13.302 26
2. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport F1W09 1:13.390 + 0.088 29
3. Daniel Ricciardo Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB14 1:13.518 + 0.216 24
4. Sebastian Vettel Scuderia Ferrari SF71H 1:13.574 + 0.272 19
5. Valtteri Bottas Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport F1W09 1:13.617 + 0.315 31
6. Kimi Räikkönen Scuderia Ferrari SF71H 1:13.727 + 0.425 28
7. Fernando Alonso McLaren F1 Team Renault MCL33 1:13.900 + 0.598 27
8. Carlos Sainz Jr Renault Sport F1 Team RS18 1:14.116 + 0.814 24
9. Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren F1 Team Renault MCL33 1:14.311 + 1.009 19
10. Pierre Gasly Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda STR13 1:15.004 + 1.702 31
11. Esteban Ocon Force India F1 Team Mercedes VJM11 1:15.071 + 1.769 29
12. Romain Grosjean Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-18 1:15.119 + 1.817 21
13. Marcus Ericsson Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C37 1:15.386 + 2.084 30
14. Charles Leclerc Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C37 1:15.439 + 2.137 30
15. Kevin Magnussen Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-18 1:15.579 + 2.277 21
16. Brendon Hartley Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda STR13 1:15.756 + 2.454 38
17. Sergey Sirotkin Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW41 1:15.768 + 2.466 30
18. Lance Stroll Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW41 1:16.259 + 2.957 16
19. Nicholas Latifi Force India F1 Team Mercedes VJM11 1:17.145 + 3.843 28
20. Nico Hülkenberg Renault Sport F1 Team RS18 no time 3

Image via Aston Martin Red Bull Racing

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.