The first practice session in Montreal started wet, and although it wasn’t raining, there were puddles and standing water at various points of the track.
Tire-wise, this was due to be an extremely interesting session. As this is the first time drivers are allowed to test the new Pirelli compounds, this obviously led to some concern over harvesting true information from the revised Pirelli tires. Unless the track completely dried out, I couldn’t see how the teams would learn from the tire wear.
Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel was in the first group of drivers who went out to assess the situation. He managed an installation lap, along with Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen. On full wet tires, Esteban Gutierrez delivered the first timed lap of the day with a 1:34.11. Vettel and teammate Mark Webber both switched tires to the Pirelli intermediate compounds. Webber set his first timed lap with a 1:29.41, the quickest by eight tenths of a second.
By the half way mark, a dry line started to appear and the race director enabled DRS.
I did wonder when the silver arrows would come into play, and Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg set the pace with a 1:24.90, while his teammate Lewis Hamilton could only manage fifth, 1.37 seconds adrift.
Would Mercedes end up dominating again or would the track conditions come into effect? The Mercedes have developed an extremely fast car of late but due to their ability to eat through their tires, their race results often suffer. It was hard to tell what the tires were doing as teams weren’t doing enough laps and the track was still damp.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso hit the track but only managed eighth, 1.74 seconds off the pace. Was this due to testing a simulated race set up? Hamilton suffered a moment’s lapse in concentration and he had to take avoiding action at the final chicane when he got caught out by Webber and Ferrari’s Filipe Massa as they slowed for the pits. His Mercedes took a bumpy ride over the curbs and grass.
An hour in, and Vettel also made a mistake, running wide – despite the dry line, parts of the track were still slippery and wet. Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne made a bold move and headed out of the pits on full slick tires. This encouraged Alonso and Sergio Perez to give the slicks a go.
In the last 15 minutes of P1, Vettel, Raikkonen and Jenson Button all went out on the medium tires. Raikkonen managed second quickest, just half a second slower than Vettel’s leading time. Pastor Maldonado was the first driver to find the infamous wall, smashing his William’s front wing.
By the chequered flag, Paul di Resta clocked the fastest time, a good show of speed for Force India’s 100th race. Hopefully the track will have dried out for Practice 2 — it’s imperative the teams get a grasp on how these new Pirelli tires perform for the rest of the season.
1. Paul di Resta – [Force India] – 1:21.020
2. Jeson Button [McLaren-Mercedes] – 1:21.108
3. Romain Grosjean [Lotus-Renault] – 1:21.258
4. Fernando Alonso [Ferrari] – 1:21.308
5. Kimi Raikkonen [Lotus-Renault] – 1:21.608
6. Daniel Ricciardo [STR-Ferrari] – 1:22.068
7. Nico Rosberg [Mercedes] – 1:22.402
8. Sergio Perez [McLaren-Mercedes] – 1:22.587
9. Sebastian Vettel [Red Bull Racing] – 1:23.047
10. Mark Webber [Red Bull Racing] – 1:23.131