World Championship leader Max Verstappen (4/7 – Race Winner) appears to be the man to beat at this week’s Canadian Grand Prix after the Red Bull driver set the pace during both practice sessions on Friday.
Having already topped the time timesheets during Practice One, reigning world champion Verstappen led the second session from almost start to finish, posting a fastest time of 1:14.127, nearly a tenth of a second quicker than nearest rivals Charles Leclerc (15/2 – Race Winner) of Ferrari.
Leclerc was the only driver to get anywhere near Verstappen’s time during P2, with his Scuderia team-mate Carlos Sainz (15/2 – Race Winner) more than a tenth further back in third at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
However, Ferrari confirmed after Friday’s action that Leclerc will incur a 10-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race due to excessive engine usage, further denting his title hopes, while enhancing those of Verstappen.
Verstappen (5/6 – Fastest Qualifier) currently holds a 21-point lead in the Drivers’ Championship standings and he was in confident mood following Friday practice despite the threat of rain in Montreal for Saturday’s qualifying session.
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“It was a positive day, of course there are always things that you can look at to try and find the complete balance, but overall today was a good start to the weekend,” the 24-year-old told reporters.
“If it rains in qualifying, it’s the same for everyone, we just deal with it.
“It’s good to see that for Sunday we should have a competitive car so whatever happens tomorrow, we will see.”
Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez (9/2 – Race Winner) is currently the Dutchman’s nearest rival in the championship standings, but he was well off the pace on Friday, finishing down in 11th.
It was also another frustrating day for Mercedes, with George Russell (40/1 – Race Winner) coming in seventh fastest, while Lewis Hamilton (50/1), who described his car as “undriveable”, was down in 13th.
Practice Three will commence at 18:00 UK time on Saturday, while Qualifying is scheduled for a 21:00 start.
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