Sun, Jun 10, 2012 - Page 19 News List

Lewis Hamilton fastest in Canadian practice runs

AP, MONTREAL, CANADA

Two-time champion Lewis Hamilton posted the quickest lap in both practices at the Canadian Grand Prix on Friday.

Hamilton, who has three pole positions in Montreal to go with his victories in 2007 and 2010, had a top lap of 1 minute, 15.564 seconds in the morning run on the 4.3km Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

The McLaren Mercedes driver bettered that to 1:15.259 in the afternoon.

Fernando Alonso, the Formula One series leader, was second best at 1:15.313 with his Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa third. Sebastain Vettel was fourth for Red Bull with Paul Di Resta fifth for Force India and Kamui Kobayashi of Sauber sixth.

Hamilton’s teammate, Jenson Button, last year’s race winner, got in only 12 laps in the morning before developing gear box trouble and did not get out again until late in the second session, but managed to place ninth.

Teams were to have one more practice early yesterday before qualifying. The race is today.

Only a few raindrops fell during each session despite forecasts of thundershowers, so teams got in a full day’s work.

However, Button turned the car over to mechanics in his garage earlier than expected.

Race stewards issued a reprimand to Vettel for causing a collision with Bruno Senna’s Williams on the final chicane before the start-finish line. And Sergio Perez of Sauber was fined 1,200 euros (US$1,500) for speeding in pit lane.

The slippery track saw Caterham’s Heikki Kovalainen slide into a wall at turn eight in the morning, scattering debris across the track and forcing a 12-minute delay. The Finnish driver was unhurt. The Renault-powered car was badly damaged on the right side, but was fixed in time to return partway through the afternoon run.

There were no signs of the protesters who tried to disrupt a Grand Prix charity cocktail event on Thursday that led to several arrests. The city has seen nightly demonstrations for several weeks by students and others opposed to university tuition hikes.

Instead, the mischief came from animals that live near the track, which is in an island park across from the downtown area. A fox ran onto the asphalt, but managed to duck under a barrier in time to avoid any cars. Later, a squirrel jumped a barrier ahead of Kimi Raikkonen’s onrushing Lotus and a groundhog made it across the track safely.

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