A busy first session in Montreal saw Lewis Hamilton finish top of the timesheet and Heikki Kovalainen badly damage his Caterham.
Double Monteal winner Lewis Hamilton put his McLaren at the top of the order with 20 minutes of the session remaining, setting a time of 1:15.564. It left the Englishman a tenth ahead of Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel with Nico Rosberg third for Mercedes, Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari fourth and Mark Webber fifth in the second Red Bull. The top five were separated by just three-tenths of a second.
Unusual for FP1, the session was a busy one with many of the field going beyond the 30-lap mark and Kimi Räikkönen managing 41 for Lotus. A few drops of rain were falling but the forecast for the afternoon suggests showers are on the way: everybody therefore wanted to maximise their dry running in the morning.
One man who failed to do that was Heikki Kovalainen who, having completed sixteen laps at the halfway mark, hit the wall hard at the exit of the turn 8-9 chicane. His Caterham suffered significant damage to the righthand side and, with the track covered in debris, the session was red-flagged. Kovalainen swiftly emerged but some time was lost as the marshals swept the circuit clear. Caterham tweeted that their driver was unhurt and had explained he simply lost the car on the exit: ‘Heikki’s had an off but is back in the garage & is fine. He says he lost the rear a little and just couldn’t hold it so ended up in the wall,’ said the Caterham feed.
After a delay of 12 minutes the pitlane re-opened and cars streamed out onto track for the last half-hour. One man not re-emerging was Jenson Button, McLaren mechanics had the rear of his car stripped down and were working on the gearbox.
With the track rubbering-in and many teams moving from the soft to the supersoft tyre for the last part of the session, faster times continued to be set and the order was far from static. Red Bull in particular were moving up, though Vettel seemed to be unable to set a properly flying lap, hitting slower traffic at the wrong parts of the circuit on many of his laps. His final tour jumped him up into second place but Hamilton had done enough to lead the order.