Fernando Alonso set the fastest time in Friday’s chilly and damp practice sessions at the Canadian Grand Prix, boosting Ferrari’s hopes of ending Mercedes’ recent monopolization of pole positions.
The Spanish driver posted a lap of 1 minute, 14.818 seconds, just over a hundredth of a second faster than Lewis Hamilton.
Romain Grosjean of Lotus was third fastest, ahead of Red Bull’s Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg, who won the previous race at Monaco and has claimed the previous three poles for Mercedes.
Alonso cautioned against reading too much into the practice times due to the damp conditions.
The day started on a wet track from overnight rain, but the afternoon saw the track stay dry until a few spots fell with 15 minutes left on the clock.
That allowed Alonso’s time to hold up just when drivers usually post their quickest times.
The rain led to some slipping and sliding, including a near-crash between Webber and Grosjean. Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus also went for a slide.
Williams’ Pastor Maldonado hit a wall late in the morning session and damaged his front wing, while Jules Bianchi’s Marussia stopped on a slip road after 41 minutes, ending his session. Several others, including Button and Hamilton, had minor slides, but kept going.
Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel was seventh fastest on Friday behind Ferrari’s Felipe Massa. Force India’s Adrian Sutil set the eighth-fastest time, ahead of McLaren’s Jenson Button, Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen of Lotus.