Alonso fastest as practice disrupted by rain

Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso in wet second practice for the Canadian Grand Prix
Fernando Alonso is ninth in this year's drivers' championship [Getty Images]

Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso was fastest in Friday practice at the Canadian Grand Prix on a day disrupted by intermittent rain.

Alonso’s best time, which put him 0.463 seconds ahead of Mercedes’ George Russell in second, came at the driest point of the second session before more rain fell in Montreal.

The first session, in which McLaren’s Lando Norris was fastest, was also rain-affected, so the headline lap times of the day were almost entirely meaningless.

But there were obvious problems for championship leader Max Verstappen.

The Red Bull driver, who was 18th fastest in the second session, pitted after just four laps with smoke pouring from the back of his car.

Red Bull said his car had suffered a problem with the energy recovery system.

Verstappen said: “It’s not ideal, I would have liked to drive more laps. So it’s definitely not how I would have liked to get on in P2.

“But it is more important to figure out what happened and what implications it will have on the weekend and the rest of the year.”

Wet weather was the theme of the day. At one stage, before practice started, organisers closed the Ile-Notre Dame, the man-made island in the St Lawrence Seaway that hosts the track, because of a heavy storm.

The first session started on time but the cars were unable to go out as the pit lane was not opened while marshals tried to dry the track.

When it did get under way, it progressively dried to the point that the drivers were able to run slick tyres for the final five minutes of the session.

Norris set the pace by 0.328secs from the Ferraris of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc.

In the second session, Alonso ran consistently at the front as the track had a brief dry period for 15 minutes or so at the start before rain started again.

The two-time champion said: “A tricky Friday for everyone. Not many laps in either session.

“No proper laps in dry conditions or in wet conditions, but it could be like this in qualifying and race. We need to be sharp tomorrow.”

Behind Alonso and Russell, the Spaniard’s team-mate Lance Stroll was third fastest, from Leclerc, RB’s Daniel Ricciardo, Haas driver Kevin Magnussen and Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes.

Hamilton, who with Michael Schumacher is the equal most successful driver in Montreal with seven wins, said: “It felt great. I was just raring to go every second. This is a track where it’s building blocks, about getting as much time in the car and understanding both conditions and the changes they have made to the surface and the run-off areas.

“The car was feeling strong. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

“The circuit is amazing. It is one of the best circuits but this was an odd day, like a summer’s day in the UK. It was summer this morning then it rains with huge hailstones, then sunny and hot and humid and then rain again.

"I feel really confident out there but we won’t know until we get out there on Saturday but on either conditions I felt really strong today.”

Despite the conditions, only one driver crashed all day - Sauber’s Zhou Gunayu lost control through Turn Five in the first session and broke his front suspension.

Leclerc won a cheer from the crowd at the hairpin when he did a 360-degree spin in the second session, to no harm.

Charles Leclerc's Ferrari throws up spray from standing water on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve track
The first practice session started in very wet conditions but the circuit quickly dried out [Getty Images]