Lewis Hamilton dominates first Canadian GP practice

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer in Montreal
Hamilton goes for a spin in Canada
Canadian Grand Prix
Venue: Circuit Gilles Villeneuve Dates: 5-7 June
Live TV, text and radio commentary via the BBC TV, BBC Sport website and app. Full coverage details here.

Lewis Hamilton set the pace as Mercedes dominated the first practice session at the Canadian Grand Prix.

Hamilton, in impressive form throughout, was 0.415 seconds quicker than team-mate Nico Rosberg.

Lotus's Romain Grosjean and Force India's Nico Hulkenberg made it a Mercedes-engined top four, ahead of Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel.

The four-time world champion, third overall this year behind Hamilton and Rosberg, was 1.6secs off the pace.

Hamilton enters the race determined to extend his lead in the championship after being robbed of victory in Monaco two weeks ago by a team strategy error.

The world champion has refused to talk about the incident in Montreal this weekend, saying he is determined to focus on the future rather than the past.

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Just as in Monaco, where he dominated the entire weekend until the late-race problem, Hamilton was straight onto 'attack' mode as soon as he took to the slippery and treacherous Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on the Ile Notre Dame in the middle of the St Lawrence Seaway.

Hamilton's first flying lap was 2.724secs faster than Rosberg's. On their next runs, Hamilton was 1.655secs clear.

At one stage, Rosberg got to within 0.019secs of Hamilton, only for the Englishman to stretch his advantage again with his next run.

But it was not a completely seamless session for Hamilton, who had a spin at the hairpin before the long straight after locking up a front wheel on entry and running a little wide of the ideal line.

Hamilton also complained of slower than normal upshifts as he and Mercedes went about dialling the car into one of the most demanding tracks on the calendar.

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Ferrari have an engine upgrade worth about 15bhp in outright power but so far it has not made much difference.

Mercedes also have an upgrade, although theirs is only for reliability, and nearly all the cars supplied by the German manufacturer have new engines for this race.

Grosjean was consistently fast all session, and ended it 1.509secs off Hamilton, and 0.15secs quicker than Hulkenberg.

Behind Vettel, Williams's Felipe Massa was sixth, confirming the team's belief they will be more competitive in Canada after a poor performance in Monaco.

The Renault-engine Red Bull of Daniil Kvyat was seventh, ahead of the second Lotus of Pastor Maldonado and the McLaren-Honda of Fernando Alonso and Williams's Valtteri Bottas.

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Alonso's team-mate Jenson Button was 14th, 0.6secs behind the Spaniard. The Englishman suffered gearbox problems in the first half-hour but did get up and running later.

Honda, like Ferrari, have used the first of their permitted engine development tokens - three for Ferrari with their combustion upgrade; two for Honda, who say theirs is only for reliability.

The third British driver, Manor's Will Stevens, was slowest, 0.008secs behind team-mate Roberto Merhi.

The second session starts at 2pm local time (19:00 BST) and forecasts suggest it could be hit by rain showers.

"The Canadian Grand Prix has everything"
For a start, there's the location. On a picturesque island in the middle of the forbidding St Lawrence Seaway, a stone's throw from downtown Montreal, one of the world's great cities.
The place is steeped in history. The race dates back to 1967, this specific venue to 1978, when Quebec-born Gilles Villeneuve won the inaugural race and created an instant national hero out of a man who was to go on to become one of the all-time greats. His legacy remains in the thousands who pack the place out every year.
And then there's the track. Apparently a simple mix of straights and chicanes ring-fenced by two hairpins, it is in fact deceptively difficult. Low-grip asphalt ringed by walls waiting to catch the unwary or careless.
Crashes are virtually guaranteed; breathless racing action, too. Add it all up, and it's no wonder it's one of the most popular races on the calendar.

Full practice results