FERNANDO Alonso edged ahead of Mercedes pair Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in practice to offer Ferrari a glimmer of hope of success in Canada.
Despite Mercedes’ domination of the current campaign, with the teamaiming for a new Formula One record of six consecutive one-twos, it was not the first time Alonso has led the way this year.
Remarkably, double world champion Alonso has now stood at the top of the timesheet on four occasions this year, exactly the same figure as Rosberg.
Naturally, it is only tomorrow’s results that count, and at present it is Rosberg who leads the way with 122 points, double that of Alonso who lies third in the standings after six races.
Under grey skies over the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Alonso clocked a time of 1 min 17.238 secs, withHamilton a very close runner-up, just 16 thousandths of a second adrift.
Rosberg had to settle for third quickest on this occasion, coming in 0.146 secs down and, as has become the norm, the rest were nowhere.
Four-times champion SebastianVettel was in fourth, just under nine tenths of a second off the pace around the 4.3km track sited on an island in the middle of the St Lawrence Seaway.
As for Alonso’s team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, the Finn – who has been off the pace so far this season since theybecame team-mates – was down in ninth, 1.340 secs behind.
Williams’ Valtteri Bottas was fifth, followed by Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, and then the McLarens. Despite Jenson Button suggesting that the team’s cars would not set the track alight this weekend, Button and Magnussen finished seventh and eighth, separated by three quarters of a second.
Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne completed the top ten, but 1.4 secs back, with Marussia’s Max Chilton down in 20th, 3.604 secs adrift.
Bringing up the rear was Caterham reserve Alexander Rossi, with the American standing in for Kamui Kobayashi and finishing 4.5 secs down on Alonso.
Meanwhile, Grand Prix weekends are poised to undergo a revolution from as early as next year. As part of the ongoing debate over cost savings among the 12 teams, one proposal under discussion relates to a scaling back of the current Fridayformat.
For many years the sport has run two 90-minute practice sessions, but one possibility that could be pushed through would result in the teams only running for one 90-minute outing in the afternoon.
The thinking behind the move is that not only will money be saved on the track with the running of just one session, but it allows teams to arrive a day later at venues and cut travelexpenditure. Whether or not racepromoters will be happy with the cars featuring less on their tracks has yet to be determined.
The move could be ratified by the end of the month following meetings of the Formula One Commission and FIA World Motor Sport Council. Both are scheduled to sit over the coming weeks and need to give approval before cementing the changes in next year’s regulations.
The Commission meeting is crucial as promoters sit on that body and may yet throw a spanner in the works. Another suggestion could involve a ban on in-season testing, which only returned this year.