The battle for supremacy grew even closer in Montreal on Friday afternoon, as Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen edged Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in second practice. Their respective team mates Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas – as well as Red Bull’s Max Verstappen – all finished within half a second of Raikkonen’s leading time.
However, it was far from all good news for Red Bull. Daniel Ricciardo suffered a suspected engine failure early on, while Verstappen brought out the red flags with 20 minutes to go after losing drive on his RB13.
Felipe Massa capped an encouraging first day for Williams with sixth in the times, ahead of McLaren’s Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard missed the first half of the session due to the hydraulic issues that afflicted him in FP1, but gradually improved and in the final minute set a time good enough for seventh. Force India were next up through Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez, who were separated by Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat.
As if on a mission to prove something after Monaco, Raikkonen was the only man to lap the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in 1m 13s as the Finn headed FP1 pacesetter Hamilton by two-tenths of a second.
Ferrari set the immediate pace on the supersoft Pirelli tyres, with their two drivers repeatedly swapping fastest times. After a lull, Ferrari switched to the ultrasofts, Vettel achieving 1m 13.744s to go fastest, then improving that to 1m 13.200s. Raikkonen replied with 1m 13.366s for seconds as Hamilton was third in 1m 13.955s on his first ultrasoft lap.
Bottas then bettered that with 1m 13.482s, also on ultras, as Raikkonen went fastest of all with the first sub-1m 13s lap of 1m 12.935s. That was getting closer to Michael Schumacher’s qualifying record of 1m 12.275s set in Q2 in 2004. Hamilton’s 1m 13.150s put him second, two-tenths down on the red car.
The fastest times in sectors 1, 2 and 3 fell to Vettel, Raikkonen and Hamilton respectively, suggesting that Mercedes still have a small power advantage down the long back straight, but that the Ferraris still have slightly better handling.
The midfield scrap was equally tight, with Romain Grosjean 11th despite several spins. Nico Hulkenberg was next up for Renault, followed by Carlos Sainz’s Toro Rosso and Kevin Magnussen’s Haas.
It was a session with myriad minor incidents. Chronologically, it started with Grosjean spinning his Haas twice in Turn 6 (and later again in Turn 1); Hamilton going off in Turn 1; Vettel only just avoiding oversteering into the ‘Wall of Champions’; Hulkenberg brushing the wall in Turn 9; Verstappen going off in Turn 1; Stoffel Vandoorne spinning in Turn 14; Bottas spinning in Turn 1; Vettel going off in Turn 2 in avoidance; Marcus Ericsson clipping his Sauber against the aforementioned champions’ wall; Vettel spinning in Turn 6; Kvyat spinning in Turn 1; Jolyon Palmer doing likewise in his Renault; Perez going off there in his Force India; and Kvyat in Turn 6.