Lewis Hamilton tops FP1, Fernando Alonso hits early reliability issue on F1 return
Canadian Grand Prix - FP1

Lewis Hamilton tops FP1, Fernando Alonso hits early reliability issue on F1 return

09/06/2017

Lewis Hamilton edged Sebastian Vettel to the quickest time in opening practice for the Canadian Grand Prix, where Fernando Alonso encountered immediate issues on his return to McLaren-Honda.

Having completed just 13 laps on his return to a Formula One cockpit, Alonso's MCL32 suffered a loss of hydraulic pressure, affecting the steering and gearshifts and prompting him to pull up at Turn 10 and throw the headrest from the car. It represented a miserable return to action after missing the Monaco Grand Prix to compete at the Indy 500 last month, a decision motivated by Honda's third successive year failing to provide McLaren with a competitive or reliable power unit.

With Alonso using Thursday's media session in Montreal to set McLaren-Honda the highly unlikely target of winning a race by September if the team wants him to stay for 2018, the early failure demonstrates the enormous scale of the team's current predicament. As he waited for a lift back to the paddock, Alonso smiled and laughed with the marshals around him, but a route back to a winning car appears to look less and less likely by the day.

At the front, Hamilton enjoyed a strong start to a weekend Mercedes hopes will be a fightback from its dismal showing at the Monaco Grand Prix, where neither car finished on the podium. The three-time world champion's benchmark of 1:13.809 was 0.198s ahead of Vettel, though Friday's opening practice session rarely provides a truly accurate forecast for the rest of the weekend. Early spins by Ferrari pair Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen -- who finished 0.4s off the lead -- and a wobbly moment for Hamilton at Turn 1 showed how green the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve was at the beginning of the session, with grip and tyre warm-up likely to play a key role in influencing the fight for pole and the win this weekend.

Behind the lead four, Force India registered a strong start to the weekend with Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon finishing fifth and sixth -- the only cars within one second of Mercedes or Ferrari. Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo finished either side of eighth-placed Felipe Massa, though it seems unlikely the Milton Keynes team will be that close to the midfield teams later in the weekend.

Daniil Kvyat rounded out the top ten ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne, who completed 29 laps in a McLaren-Honda engine which managed to complete an entire session. Kevin Magnussen ended 12th for Haas ahead of local boy Lance Stroll, preparing for his first Canadian Grand Prix, though the teenager sounded unhappy with his set-up throughout the session.

Romain Grosjean was 14th ahead of Renault's Nico Hulkenberg, who was one of the drivers to spin early in the session at Turn 7. Behind Alonso, Sauber pair Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein finished either side of Renault's Jolyon Palmer in 18th. Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz finished bottom of the order, though he completed just one installation lap early in the session before hitting trouble wuith his Renault engine.

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