Hamilton sets the pace

World Championship leader quickest in opening practice sessions

Hamilton: pacesetter

Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time in Friday's practice sessions for the Canadian Grand Prix after Ferrari's Felipe Massa had earlier topped the timesheets.

Hamilton, who won his maiden grand prix in Montreal last year, posted a quickest lap of one minute 15.752 seconds during the second 90-minute long session at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

Fresh from a victory in Monaco two week ago which propelled him into the lead of the World Championship, Hamilton had completed only eight laps during Friday morning's first practice session.

He was then sixth fastest in his McLaren Mercedes as Massa went quickest with a lap timed at 1:17.553s around the 2.71-mile track.

Hamilton started the afternoon session moderately, and was lying fifth fastest before upping his pace.

A time of 1:15.766s knocked World Champion Kimi Raikkonen off the top spot before the McLaren man went quicker still on his 42nd and last lap.

Raikkonen, three points behind Hamilton in the Drivers' Championship heading into Sunday's race, was then supplanted by BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica, the Monaco runner-up, who continued his good form with a fastest lap of 1:16.023s.

The Pole had also been second quickest behind Massa in the morning's session on a track that had dried out following overnight rain.

Raikonnen had been last out of the pits and vied with team-mate Massa for much of the afternoon's session, with the Finn clocking a fastest 1:16.093s for what would be the third fastest time.

Hamilton's McLaren team-mate Heikki Kovalainen was fourth fastest with a 1:16.331s effort, with Massa next (1:16.413s) despite coming to a stop out on the track with 20 minutes remaining.

Nick Heidfeld rounded off the top six for BMW Sauber with a time of 1:16.589s.

But the second session was a bad one for Renault, with Nelson Piquet Jr. grinding to a halt as he entered the pit lane, while team-mate Fernando Alonso spun off the track at Turn One and proved unable to get going again.

The pair ended the afternoon in 17th and 20th positions respectively.

Timo Glock was another early finisher, brushing one of the walls and damaging the right wheels on his Toyota, forcing him to abandon the car at Turn Six.

Massa was the next to stop, his premature finish affecting the whole field as marshals struggled to steer his Ferrari through a gap in the safety barriers.

When the session resumed, Hamilton proceeded to turn in his quickest laps ahead of Saturday's final practice and qualifying sessions for Sunday's race.


He also had his work cut out in avoiding a groundhog which strayed on to the circuit.

Hamilton got his wildlife confused, thinking at first he had encountered a beaver, but was nevertheless relieved to have avoided contact.

"I love the track - there's not a part that I don't like," he said.

"But there are a lot of beavers or, I don't know what they're called. They keep coming onto the track, and I'm a bit worried they're going to kill themselves - because at the end of the day you're travelling at 200miles per hour and they're standing there in the middle of the track.

"There's not much you can do.

"I saw one in the middle of the track and I had to go around it. I saw the crowd, and they were quite happy I missed it."

Canadian Grand Prix, Friday practice (session two):

1. Lewis Hamilton (Britain) McLaren 1min 15.752secs
2. Robert Kubica (Poland) BMW Sauber 1:16.023
3. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Ferrari 1:16.093
4. Heikki Kovalainen (Finland) McLaren 1:16.331
5. Felipe Massa (Brazil) Ferrari 1:16.413
6. Nick Heidfeld (Germany) BMW Sauber 1:16.589
7. Mark Webber (Australia) RedBull - Renault 1:16.604
8. Nico Rosberg (Germany) Williams - Toyota 1:16.767
9. Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Toro Rosso - Ferrari 1:17.019
10. Jarno Trulli (Italy) Toyota 1:17.068
11. Kazuki Nakajima (Japan) Williams - Toyota 1:17.242
12. David Coulthard (Britain) RedBull - Renault 1:17.334
13. Rubens Barrichello (Brazil) Honda 1:17.462
14. Giancarlo Fisichella (Italy) Force India - Ferrari 1:17.508
15. Timo Glock (Germany) Toyota 1:17.549
16. Sebastien Bourdais (France) Toro Rosso - Ferrari 1:17.559
17. Fernando Alonso (Spain) Renault 1:17.644
18. Adrian Sutil (Germany) Force India - Ferrari 1:17.813
19. Jenson Button (Britain) Honda 1:17.842
20. Nelson Piquet (Brazil) Renault 1:18.076