Hamilton in charge in final practice in Canada

Hamilton fastest on soft tyre as rivals, on supersofts, struggle to dent Mercedes’ dominance.

Lewis Hamilton continued to dominate the timesheets in Montreal as went quickest in final practice at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. The Briton, who failed to set a representative time on the quicker supersoft tyre at the end of the session, still managed to finish half a second clear of supersoft-shod Williams driver Felipe Massa.

Hamilton set his P1 lap of 1:15.610 with 25 minutes of the session remaining, as the final longer runs on the soft tyre came to an end. That put him half a second clear of team-mate Nico Rosberg.

However, when the time came to bolt on the supersoft tyre for qualifying simulations, neither Mercedes driver set a convincing time, with Hamilton returning to the garage first and Rosberg following soon after.

Despite the field being clear none of the duo’s supersoft-shod rivals could make a dent on their soft tyre times. Williams’ Felipe Massa came closest, splitting the Mercedes, but otherwise the closest challenger was Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, eight tenths adrift of Hamilton.

In the early part of the session the pace was set by McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen, the Dane topping the timesheet with a lap of 1:18.325. The expected front-runners were still in the pit lane, however, with Lewis Hamilton not emerging inside the first quarter of the hour.

As the 15-minute mark was reach, the session was briefly red-flagged. Esteban Gutierrez lost control of his Sauber on the run down to turn four and hit the wall on the outside of the exit.

Action resumed four minutes later and Hamilton joined the fray and the Briton jumped to P1 on his second lap out, with a lap of 1:17.416. That was swiftly eclipsed by Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen before the Mercedes driver responded by becoming the first man to break the 1 min 17s barrier with a lap of 1:16.760.

Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg was not to be outdone, however, and after Hamilton had lowered the bar to 1:16.186, the championship leader shaved another six hundredths of a second off to claim P1.

There was no denying Hamilton, though, and he soon moved ahead again, registering the fastest lap on soft tyres – a 1:15.610 – before the duo returned to the pits. Behind them the quickest prime tyre runners were Massa in third and over a second down on Hamilton, Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo, and Valtteri Bottas in the second Williams.

Raikkonen was the first to make the switch to the supersoft tyre, 20 minutes before the end of the session and the Finn jumped to third with his first lap out, still just under a second shy of Hamilton’s soft tyre benchmark.

The rest of the field left it later, with most not making the switch until the final 10 minutes. Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg leaped from 10th to fifth and then Fernando Alonso moved third ahead of team-mate Raikkonen by just 0.040s.

The battle at the top should have been about the two Mercedes drivers but as Hamilton left pit lane for his first supersoft run he got on the radio to his team asking them to investigate a problem noticed when leaving the garage. He returned to the pits after an first lap out and didn’t re-emerge. Rosberg too opted out of his run on the red-banded Pirelli tyre after failing to find significant improvement and thus the session ended with Hamilton’s soft-tyre time giving him spot, 0.476s ahead of Felipe Massa’s best time on supersofts, with Rosberg third.

Alonso was fourth on supersofts, some eight tenths down on Hamilton’s times, with Daniel Ricciardo fifth for Red Bull Racing. Raikkonen took sixth place ahead of compatriot Bottas and the Finns were followed by the Toro Rossos of Daniil Kvyat and Jean-Eric Vergne. The final top-10 spot went to Sebastian Vettel, who ended the session almost 1.3s adrift of Hamilton’s time.

A number of drivers had offs during the session, with Gutierrez’s being the most significant. Turn eight caught out number of drivers with Marcus Ericsson, Romain Grosjean and Sergio Perez all surviving spins at the turn. Kamui Kobayashi made a late exit from the session, his Caterham team telling him to stop his car at Turn 10 as they had spotted an issue with his CT05.

2014 Canadian Grand Prix – Free Practice 3 Times
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:15.610  18
2 Felipe Massa Williams 1:16.086 0.476 16
3 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:16.120 0.510 20
4 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:16.488 0.878 15
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:16.504 0.894 15
6 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:16.528 0.918 22
7 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:16.684 1.074 20
8 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:16.820 1.210 21
9 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:16.824 1.214 19
10 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing 1:16.884 1.274 15
11 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:16.944 1.334 17
12 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:16.993 1.383 19
13 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:17.121 1.511 21
14 Sergio Perez Force India 1:17.188 1.578 19
15 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:17.224 1.614
16 Jenson Button McLaren 1:17.360 1.750
17 Adrian Sutil Sauber 1:17.900 2.290
18 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:18.518 2.908
19 Max Chilton Marussia 1:18.525 2.915
20 Marcus Ericsson Caterham 1:19.865 4.255
21 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham 1:20.227 4.617
22 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:22.388 6.778