Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2023

Hamilton heads Mercedes one-two in extended but disrupted second practice

2023 Canadian Grand Prix second practice

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Lewis Hamilton was quickest in a specially extended second practice for the Canadian Grand Prix ahead of his team mate.

Both Mercedes drivers took advantage of fresh soft tyres late in the session to set the quickest times of Friday, with Hamilton less than three-hundredths of a second quicker than George Russell in the other Mercedes, before heavy rain fell in the closing minutes.

After the first practice session was effectively cancelled due to a problem with the circuit’s CCTV system, half an hour was added to the start of the second session to allow teams to recover some of the track time they had lost. Nineteen of the 20 cars took to the circuit as soon as the extended practice session began, with only Alexander Albon remaining in the garage in his heavily updated Williams.

Charles Leclerc set the early pace on the medium compound tyres, with a 1’16.564 putting him two tenths ahead of the two Red Bulls of Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen. Perez then improved to a 1’15.230 to move to the top of the times, with Verstappen then going second a tenth behind his team mate.

Pierre Gasly had brought out the red flag that ended the earlier session after his Alpine lost driver. However, his team had successfully solved the problem for the start of second session and Gasly demonstrated how healthy his car now was by jumping to the top of the times with a 1’15.224. His time at the top was not long lived, however, as first Verstappen, then Leclerc eclipsed him on the soft tyres, both breaking under the 1’15s.

Just before the bonus 30 minutes had elapsed, the session was red flagged after Nico Hulkenberg came to a halt on the start-finish straight with smoke rising from the rear of his Haas VF-23. The marshals quickly extinguished the car and pushed it clear, allowing practice to resume again after a delay of just under 10 minutes.

When the session resumed, Perez immediately pushed in the Red Bull on soft tyres, and brushed the wall on the exit of turn seven, abandoning his run and returning to the pits for a suspension check and a change of tyres. Carlos Sainz Jnr moved to the top of the times with a 1’13.844, before the session was stopped for a second time when Esteban Ocon ground to a halt at turn nine with a loss of water pressure in his Alpine, prompting the second red flag intervention of the session.

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After another brief delay, practice began again with just under 45 minutes remaining. By this time, rain was slowly approaching the circuit from downtown Montreal, making this phase of the session crucial for teams to collect dry running data while the conditions still allowed it. Ferrari returned to the circuit on used tyres on both Sainz and Leclerc’s cars, while Mercedes sent out their two drivers on new soft tyres. Russell went quickest of all with a 1’13.745 on his fresh tyres, before that was beaten by team mate Hamilton by only 0.027s, despite encountering traffic at the end of his lap.

With just under half an hour remaining, the rain was now threatening to fall over the circuit at any moment. However, drivers continued to circulate as the rain appeared reluctant to begin. Lando Norris had an off in turn one before McLaren team mate Oscar Piastri kissed the ‘wall of champions’ with the right side of his car, causing concern on his pit wall.

Storm clouds continued to gather overhead but the rain remained away. The wind picked up, blowing leaves and pollen all around the track. Eventually, with seven minutes left, the long-anticipated rain finally arrived at the hairpin of turn 10, falling heavily from the south side of the circuit while the north remained relatively dry. After staying out for an extra lap on intermediate tyres to explore the conditions, Norris was the final car to return to the safety of the garage.

With two minutes of the session remaining, the two Aston Martins opted to head out into the rain on intermediate tyres. They were joined by the two Ferraris, Alfa Romeos and Norris’s McLaren, who returned to the track for a final lap. After a final lap at crawling speeds, all seven successfully made it back to the garage and the session finally concluded.

The two Mercedes ended the session quickest, with Hamilton just ahead of Russell. Sainz was third in the Ferrari, ahead of Alonso, Leclerc and Verstappen sixth in the Red Bull. Valtteri Bottas split the Red Bulls in seventh, with Perez eighth ahead of Stroll’s Aston Martin with Gasly completing the top ten.

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2023 Canadian Grand Prix second practice result

Position Number Driver Team Model Time Gap Laps
1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W14 1’13.718 30
2 63 George Russell Mercedes W14 1’13.745 0.027 31
3 55 Carlos Sainz Jnr Ferrari SF-23 1’13.844 0.126 39
4 14 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin-Mercedes AMR23 1’14.044 0.326 38
5 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari SF-23 1’14.094 0.376 38
6 1 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda RBPT RB19 1’14.142 0.424 34
7 77 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo-Ferrari C43 1’14.220 0.502 40
8 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull-Honda RBPT RB19 1’14.250 0.532 29
9 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes AMR23 1’14.419 0.701 31
10 10 Pierre Gasly Alpine-Renault A523 1’14.477 0.759 39
11 81 Oscar Piastri McLaren-Mercedes MCL60 1’14.533 0.815 38
12 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari VF-23 1’14.544 0.826 36
13 4 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes MCL60 1’14.617 0.899 40
14 24 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo-Ferrari C43 1’14.811 1.093 37
15 22 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT AT04 1’14.941 1.223 43
16 21 Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT AT04 1’15.002 1.284 38
17 23 Alexander Albon Williams-Mercedes FW45 1’15.003 1.285 33
18 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault A523 1’15.092 1.374 17
19 2 Logan Sargeant Williams-Mercedes FW45 1’15.426 1.708 38
20 27 Nico Hulkenberg Haas-Ferrari VF-23 1’16.369 2.651 11

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2023 Canadian Grand Prix

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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3 comments on “Hamilton heads Mercedes one-two in extended but disrupted second practice”

  1. I have been saying Bumper Lanes Wittich probably won’t allow any running in wet weather. The fact he declared a bone dry track (minutes before it did start chucking) “wet” and disabled DRS is a perfect example of how comically cautious this joke of a “race” director is. I’ll say this for him, I’d love him to babysit my kids. I know they’d be safe as houses with him.

  2. Hey look! A driver dropped their energy drink! Better red flag the session!!

    I understand the Gasly red flag in FP1. But seriously– it took 3 minutes to clear Ocon’s car, and it was in a reasonably safe part of the track, there was no crash debris or track damage– So why the red flag instead of yellows?

    Anyone else think the FIA is getting a bit trigger-happy on red flags?

    1. Red-flagging, more often than not, is the resorted choice in practice & qualifying sessions, although I agree that even in these sessions, it shouldn’t be a choice in any literally given situation.

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