|© James Moy Photography/Force India
Taking advantage of a drying track and a late crash, Paul di Resta emerged as the quickest driver in the first practice session for the Canadian Grand Prix on Friday.
Practice began after the rains, forecast for Friday and Saturday, had halted 30 minutes before the scheduled start but the initial laps were run on full wet tyres, later switching to intermediates and then the dry compounds towards the end.
Pirelli had brought developmental prototype tyres to evaluate in practice but had only limited running – and consequently limited learning - towards the end.
The Force India driver’s time around the Circuit Gilles Villenueve was 1 minute 21.020 seconds, which was about 5.5 seconds slower than the quickest time set in first practice last year.
Drivers and teams continued to assess the condition of the circuit before switching over to the dry compounds, resulting in a few slides and slips over the course of the session.
Halfway in, Jules Bianchi ended up down the escape road at Turn 3 with the team requesting the Frenchman to switch the engine off. His session ended after just eight laps.
“To confirm, nothing wrong with Jules' car and no damage,” Marussia confirmed on its Twitter page. “Just an off, he tried to turn and get back on track but everything got a bit hot.”
Lewis Hamilton, meanwhile, ran onto the grass at Turn 14 after he found traffic obstructing his entry into the final chicane on his hot lap just past the halfway mark. The Mercedes had swerved to avoid the Red Bull of Mark Webber and went over the run off area further ahead, going hard over the newly laid 50mm-high ‘speed bumps’ installed after the apex adjacent to the start-finish straight.
In the closing stages, Pastor Maldonado slipped at Turn 4 , crashed into the wall and damaged his front wing. The driver was unhurt after the shunt but the waving yellow flags meant that several drivers out on the circuit at the time had to back off significantly.
McLaren driver Jenson Button was 0.088 seconds slower in second followed by Lotus’ Romain Grosjean. Fernando Alonso was nearly three-tenths off the pace in fourth in his Ferrari while Kimi Raikkonen was just over half a second slower than di Resta in fifth.
Daniel Ricciardo of Toro Rosso was sixth, ahead of Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg and Sergio Perez. The Red Bull drivers rounded up the top ten with Sebastian Vettel ahead of teammate Webber. Felipe Massa was 11th and Hamilton 16th.