SCOTLAND’S Paul Di Resta unleashed a flying lap in the final seconds of yesterday’s first practice session to top the times ahead of this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix.
With the track drying out after a morning rain shower, the West Lothian driver saved his best for last, guiding his Force India car around the treacherous Montreal street circuit in a time of one minute 21.020 seconds.
Fellow Briton Jenson Button, who won the Canadian Grand Prix two years ago, was second fastest overall in his McLaren, just ahead of Romain Grosjean and Fernando Alonso.
Germany’s triple world champion Sebastian Vettel was ninth in his Red Bull after setting the fastest time earlier in the session.
With light rain falling and puddles of water still on the circuit, most of the drivers adopted a cautious approach as they began their preparations for tomorrow’s race, the seventh of the Formula 1 season. There were no major incidents although Pastor Maldonado hit a wall, breaking the front wing of his Williams.
Di Resta, who has never finished on the podium in his three seasons in Formula 1, gave his struggling team a great start to a weekend where it celebrates its 100th Grand Prix, though he was not taking anything for granted. “This is the worst grand prix of the year for weather,” he told the BBC. “It’s so unpredictable and we spend more time hiding from the rain here than anywhere else. I think anything in the top six on Sunday will be exceptional.”
Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton believes he has to regain the confidence of everyone at Mercedes after admitting to a braking problem that has put the skids under his campaign.
Hamilton has come clean for the reasons behind his lack of pace relative to team-mate and Monaco Grand Prix winner Nico Rosberg, saying he has been suffering a season-long issue with braking that has affected his confidence in the car.
“It’s all about my feeling in the car. I’m confident the car is a great one. Nico has proven that with his victory in Monaco,” said Hamilton. “But you have to feel at one with the car, and I’m definitely not feeling at one with it at the moment, and it’s all in the braking. Never in my life have I had brake problems, or a lack of confidence in the brakes, since I started out in karts at five years old. This is the first time I’ve experienced it, so it has caught me a little off guard.
“When you brake it’s all about feel through your boot, the reaction of the car when you hit the brakes. There are so many different things that give you that confidence. When I was at McLaren we worked on the brakes for a long time, we got it right and it was the same for six years. Here at Mercedes we’re working on it. It’s not unfixable. I can change them if I want or I can just get used to them, and I prefer to grab a hold of it, get used to them and do a good job.”
Hamilton’s problems could be brought into sharp focus this weekend, with Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve renowned as a track tough on brakes.