Formula 1 Racing

What we learned in Friday practice at the F1 Canadian GP

The hardy fans on Friday saw Norris top opening practice that started with no running due to huge puddles and ended with a dry track

Heavy rainfall punctuated Friday’s Formula 1 free practice sessions at the Canadian Grand Prix, yielding a little over half an hour of dry running across the day.

Severe thunderstorm warnings accompanied the weather forecasts in Montreal and, although predicted high winds did not whip up a frenzy around the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, a deluge of marble-sized hail interrupted the Friday pitlane displays ahead of FP1 prior to a period of heavy rain. The downpour let up shortly before the session, but a smattering of puddles around the Ile Notre-Dame track required attention before the session could properly get started.

With two rain-affected sessions, there was minimal information that could be gleaned from the stifled on-track action: a 20-minute hiatus in running at the start of FP1 sapped away at the session’s run-time, while FP2 was also affected after the soft-tyre runs with an increase in precipitation that necessitated the return of the intermediate tyre.

The rest of the Montreal weekend looks set to be affected by rain, which is generally referred to by cliche-fanciers as “the great leveller”. It’ll do more than just water down the gravy in the paddock poutine stall, as it’ll be up to the teams to consider how much they expect to compromise their set-ups depending on the weather forecasts.

However, there’s always something to learn, even if Friday’s sessions end up being wholly unrepresentative of the rest of the weekend. But it’s likely that the rain is here to stay, judging by the local forecasts…

The story of the day

By the end of the opening practice session, the sun had burned through the smoke-grey clouds and helped to dry the circuit as it became suffused in a mysterious robe of steam. The drivers felt sufficiently confident to ditch the suite of wet-weather tyres and explore the circuit on softs, after which Lando Norris assumed the bragging rights with his time-topping effort at the end of the session – a 1m24.435s.

The hardy fans on Friday saw Norris top opening practice that started with no running due to huge puddles and ended with a dry track

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Norris’ effort followed a longer period of running in wet weather, which was paused shortly after it had belatedly begun. Zhou Guanyu aquaplaned at Turn 5 and caught the wall with his left-front tyre – causing suspension damage and the Sauber driver’s stoppage at the following corner. The break in running allowed the…

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