Could the tide be changing in this year’s world championship? Nico Rosberg arrived in Canada with his lead cut to 24 points after Lewis Hamilton’s victory in the Monaco Grand Prix. Friday’s two practice sessions both saw the defending world champion in supreme form.
The first practice session saw Hamilton 0.331 seconds faster than Rosberg. An impressive result considering he was using a slower set of tyres than his team mate who was on the ultra-soft tyres.
It was a better day for Sebastian Vettel in his Ferrari. He’s starting the weekend down in fifth in the drivers’ championship 46 points behind Rosberg. He was third fastest in practice only 0.157 seconds behind Rosberg and better was to come in the second practice for the former champion. .
The Monaco Grand Prix wasn’t such a great weekend for rising star Max Verstappen crashing out on the 34th lap after his previous victory in Spain. Verstappen was fourth fastest in the first practice session using the soft tyre. He did get reprimanded by the stewards though after slowing for the final chicane and incurring the wrath of Hamilton and Bottas who were on flying laps. Not such good news for Felipe Massa who crashed in first practice but thankfully wasn’t injured.
Daniel Ricciardo, who really should be a lot higher in the table but for team strategy and pit errors was only 11th fastest in first practice. He had a better second practice though finishing in fifth but way behind Hamilton.
Second practice was again dominated by Hamilton who finished 0.257 seconds ahead of Sebastian Vettel. Not a great session for Rosberg who was more than half a second behind Vettel. Could the Ferrari’s who have a new turbo design and bodywork this weekend be closing the gap on Mercedes and Red Bull?
Jenson Button isn’t revealing much about what he’ll be doing next season but he certainly enjoyed second practice. The British driver finished seventh fastest in his McLaren just behind the Williams of Bottas. He was the only McLaren in the top ten though with Alonso trailing in 11th but there are definitely some promising signs for the McLaren team.
“It’s been an awesome day,” said Hamilton after the second practice session, “This has always been a strong circuit for me (only Schumacher has won more races here than him)and I’m really enjoying being back here again. I’ve generally been really happy with the car so far.”
This could be the weekend when Hamilton really puts himself back in the title picture. There could be some rain on Sunday though so another muddling race could be a possibility. Hamilton was impressive on Friday in practice and definitely ahead of Rosberg in all aspects. That big lead Rosberg had a few weeks ago may well become a thing of the past as Hamilton chases his third consecutive world title. I’ll be back later with news of qualifying, until then enjoy your racing.