2014 Canadian GP Practice Two: Lewis Hamilton edges out Nico Rosberg
Mercedes back on top by nearly half a second; Sebastian Vettel best of the rest; Ferrari updates seemingly working.
By William Esler. Last Updated: 07/06/14 10:06am
Normal service was resumed in Practice Two in Canada as Mercedes returned to their usual spot at the top of the timesheets as Lewis Hamilton headed Nico Rosberg by a tenth of a second.
Having trailed the updated Ferrari of Fernando Alonso during the morning session, this season's dominant team never looked flustered in the afternoon as they opened a gap of nearly half a second to the opposition.
The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve may reward a powerful engine, but rather ominously for the chasing pack the two Mercedes cars were at the tail end of the top ten through the speed traps suggesting the Silver Arrows still have time in hand.
Perhaps surprisingly it was Rosberg who was bouncing over the kerbs and looking a little ragged at the final chicane, whilst Hamilton was in the words of Martin Brundle "threading the eye of a needle" at the venue where he took his maiden F1 victory in 2007.
"It's been a great day. Both me and Nico were working on the set-up and it's great to see we have great pace, an incredible job from the guys in the factory," Hamilton told Sky Sports F1 after the session.
"There's still more to come because we don't have the set-up as well as we would like, but that's the thing here - you are always chasing the set-up and trying to go faster."
Sebastian Vettel was best of the rest as he put the Renault updates to good use late in the session to move ahead of the two Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso. Whilst the World Champion's fastest lap may have come when track conditions had improved, his advantage of over a second to Daniel Ricciardo will have been a welcome confidence boost after a difficult opening six races alongside the Australian.
After some public criticism of his pace compared to Alonso, Raikkonen also gave the perfect response as headed his team-mate in Ferrari's heavily revised car, despite a rather clumsy spin on the exit of the hairpin.
"They look generally fast around here," commented added Brundle. "There are no medium and high-speed corners, it is all about point and squirt and if they have car with good traction which it appears they have - whether the can maintain that pace throughout a grand prix distance with fuel consumption and cooling... But there is no doubt Ferrari have taken a step forward on this race track."
The two Williams cars of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas were line astern behind the Ferraris as they put their Mercedes power to good use to be the top customer team, enjoying a gap of one and a half tenths over fellow Stuttgart customer powered McLaren.
Being nearly a second off the outright pace will have been disappointing for the Woking-based team on a circuit that should have suited their powertrain. However, things could have been even worse had Kevin Magnussen been penalised for blocking Adrian Sutil early in the session. The rookie had slowed on the racing line ahead of a flying lap which caught out the German, forcing the Sauber driver across the final chicane, but the after investigating the stewards decided to take no further action.
Jean-Eric Vernge made it two Renault powered cars in the top ten with the Toro Rosso ahead of Romain Grosjean and Ricciardo to break the run of Mercedes engine cars.
Indeed, Force India were only 13th and 14th fastest and nearly a second slower than the Williams cars which will have been a disappointment for a team that harboured thoughts of a podium finish heading to Montreal. There will certainly be a lot of number crunching going on back in the Silverstone factory before Saturday night's qualifying hour.
After his points heroics in Monaco, it was a disappointing return to work for Jules Bianchi whose running in the second session was limited to just three laps due to a power unit problem and the Frenchman propped up the timesheets in 22nd position.