Verstappen completes perfect Friday in Canada
Canadian Grand Prix - FP2

Verstappen completes perfect Friday in Canada

Max Verstappen set the pace for the second practice session in a row at the Canadian Grand Prix as the top three teams all looked competitive on Friday afternoon.

A series of accidents in the opening six races of the season have put pressure on the Red Bull driver going into this weekend's race, but Verstappen responded to his recent criticism on Friday by setting the fastest time by 0.130s. Kimi Raikkonen was second fastest for Ferrari but the competitive picture was skewed by Mercedes opting against using Pirelli's fastest compound -- the hyper-soft -- on either car across both practice sessions.

Given that the hyper-soft is expected to be worth nearly a second in performance over a flying lap, Lewis Hamilton's fourth fastest time -- set on the super-soft compound and 0.579s off Verstappen -- looks all the more competitive. Mercedes decided not to use the hyper-soft after bringing just five sets of the pink-striped compound to this weekend's race and will test the tyre for the first time in Montreal in final practice on Saturday morning. While the strategy will give Hamilton and teammate Valtteri Bottas fewer laps to become accustomed to the the hyper-soft ahead of their qualifying laps, it gave the team more super-soft and ultra-soft tyres to test during Friday practice, which are expected to be the better race tyres.

Daniel Ricciardo was third fastest after a power unit issue early in the session forced him to return to the garage. Red Bull is running new Renault engines in both cars this weekend and, fortunately for Ricciardo, the problem was rectified without the need for a component change. He returned to the track at the end of the session to set his flying lap, and although his flying lap was slightly hampered by being on track at the same time that the rest of the field was focusing on long-run pace, he still managed a time 0.405s off his teammate Verstappen.

Sebastian Vettel had to settle for fifth fastest after missing the early part of the session while his car was worked on in the garage. He was 0.787s off Verstappen by the chequered flag with work to do to ensure he is in the fight for pole position on Saturday. Bottas rounded off the top six, 0.863s off Verstappen, but set his fastest time on the ultra-softs due to Mercedes' unusual tyre strategy.

Romain Grosjean finished at the front of the midfield for Haas but hit an animal, believed to be one of the native groundhogs, towards the end of the session. The impact damaged the nose of his car, which has received a significant upgrade this weekend. He was just over a tenth of a second clear of the two Force Indias, which were split by just 0.007s in Esteban Ocon's favour, while Fernando Alonso rounded off the top ten for McLaren.

Carlos Sainz's session ended prematurely when he lost the back end of his Renault through Turn 7 at the 26-minute mark, clouting the wall with the rear of his car. The Spaniard was able to continue but limped back to the pits in his damaged Renault, with the resulting debris on the circuit briefly prompting red flags. Sainz finished behind Stoffel Vandoorne in the standings; the Belgian was the other casualty of the session, breaking his rear suspension after hitting the wall through on the exit of Turn 8. Unlike Sainz, Vandoorne was unable to bring the car back to the pits and was forced to park it on the side of the road. Both incidents brought out red flags and short stoppages in the session.

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