Montreal FP2: Verstappen remains on top

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen was unbeatable one day of the Canadian Grand Prix weekend, he topped the timing screens at the end of the second free practice session of the day after doing so in the morning stanza also.

Verstappen ticked all boxes on a day in which he made no mistakes on his way to setting the fastest lap time of 1:12.198, around the 4.34 km sun-splashed Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. He ended quickest of all during the 90-minute afternoon FP2 session.

The Dutchman’s best effort came around 45-minute mark using the Hypersoft tyres and was a tad over a tenth up on Kimi Raikkonen in the Ferrari, who was top of the timing screens up to that point. The Finn ended the day second quickest.

Monaco Grand Prix winner, Daniel Ricciardo in the other Red Bull was third fastest despite being plagued with an electrical issue that cost him a significant chunk of track time. He managed 17 laps all afternoon, while his teammate managed to tick off 39 laps.

Verstappen also looked very strong on the race simulation runs, with the RB14 appearing to be kinder to its tyres than the cars of their rivals, something that was also evident two weeks ago in Monte-Carlo.

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton was only good for fourth place in the Mercedes, half a second down on the top time, with Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel a further quarter second shy in fifth and Valtteri Bottas, a tenth adrift of the German, rounding out the top six.

The sense in the paddock is that Ferrari have some ammo in reserve. On the day they allowed Raikkonen to have a stab at a couple of hot laps, while Vettel kept it typically downbeat, perhaps the Reds are waiting to crank it up when it matters.

On the other hand, Mercedes are without their power unit update and neither Hamilton or Bottas sampled the Hypersofts, the quickest of the rubber compounds available.

Best of the Rest, nearly 1.5 seconds off the benchmark time was Romain Grosjean in the Haas, maximising the updated Ferrari engine he and teammate Kevin Magnussen have bolted to their cars this weekend in Montreal, the Dane was 13th.

Both Force India drivers showed handy pace with Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez eight and ninth respectively. The Mexican was forced to sit out FP1 as Nicholas Latifi made his official debut for the team in the morning.

Fernando Alonso was tenth in the McLaren.

Although the gap between the Big Three and The Rest is substantial, that midfield battle is as close as it gets with less than one second separating Grosjean in seventh and Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly down in 18th.

Ferrari junior driver Charles Leclerc continued to impress in the Sauber by finishing the session 11th fastest which was a couple of tenths better than teammate Marcus Ericsson in 15th.

It was a miserable day for Williams as their drivers struggled to come to grips with their troublesome car around the Ile Notre Dame. Both hit the wall at some point and were firmly anchored top the bottom of the timing screens at the end of the day, a concerning 2.5 seconds off the pace.