Canadian F1 Grand Prix 2018 Qualifying: Max Verstappen Tops 1st Friday Practice

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistJune 8, 2018

MONTREAL, QC - JUNE 08: Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing poses for a photo before practice for the Canadian Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on June 8, 2018 in Montreal, Canada.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Max Verstappen led the way in Friday's first practice ahead of the 2018 Formula One Canadian Grand Prix and clocked the fastest time of one minute, 13.302 seconds in Friday's early session.

The Dutchman edged Mercedes talisman Lewis Hamilton by 0.088 seconds at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, while Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo finished third and Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel was fourth fastest.

Hamilton can equal Michael Schumacher's record of seven victories in Canada if he takes first place in Sunday's Grand Prix, and Friday's first practice suggested he's got the gas to close the gap on Verstappen. 

Red Bull's 20-year-old boy-wonder recorded the fastest lap at the Monaco Grand Prix a fortnight ago and is hoping to clinch his first pole position of 2018 in Montreal.

The official Formula One Twitter account provided a look at the classification from Friday's early practice session:

      

First Practice Recap

Verstappen made his surge into P1 with only half-an-hour remaining in first practice and excelled on the hypersofts, while Channel 4 F1 confirmed an early end to proceedings for home favourite Lance Stroll in the Williams:

Hamilton didn't experiment with the hypersofts in Friday's first outing and will be hopeful of closing that gap when he does switch on to a softer compound.

Verstappen drew praise for his performance on the track on Friday, but he was in the headlines for a different reason on Thursday, when he gave an aggressive response to those who criticise his driving style, via ESPN F1:

He's hoping to follow in the footsteps of team-mate Ricciardo, who won the Canadian Grand Prix in 2014. The Australian made a promising start with 24 laps. Toro Rosso's Brendon Hartley recorded more laps than any other driver in first practice with 38—team-mate Pierre Gasly and Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen came closest with 31 each.

Stroll wasn't the only Canadian native who had an unremarkable early outing at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, either, as Force India reserve driver Nicholas Latifi struggled to break off the foot of the lap-time table.

But at least Latifi could say he set a time, something Renault's Nico Hulkenberg didn't manage after an apparent gearbox issue forced him to stop soon after he wheeled on to the track, bringing out the red flag.

For all the money in motorsport and the millions poured into crafting such cutting-edge cars, even those at the pinnacle sometimes call upon the simplest methods, per Sky Sports F1:

Vettel made a late switch on to hypersofts and rallied to fourth in the final 30 minutes, although the Italian manufacturer was perhaps concerned with testing their new engine upgrades, per The Independent's Philip Duncan.

There were a couple of incidents right at the end of Friday's first practice session as Sauber's Marcus Ericsson locked his tyres to spin on to the middle of the track.

Williams already saw Stroll's session ended by a puncture, and team-mate Sergey Sirotkin compounded their woes when he spun at Turn 6 into the barrier, although he seemed to suffer only slight damage to his exterior.  

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