Mercedes look the part in Canada

MERCEDES suggested McLaren will not have things all their own way in this weekend's Canadian Grand Prix after opening practice in Montreal.

McLaren are hot favourites for tomorrow's race at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, situated on the Ile Notre Dame in the St Lawrence Seaway, as their car is ideally suited for the track.

Although Jenson Button posted the quickest time with a lap of one minute 18.127secs for the 4.361km temporary venue, team-mate Lewis Hamilton had to settle for third behind Michael Schumacher. This race is Schumacher's second most successful as he is a seven-time winner, one behind his record of eight in France. The seven-times world champion finished 0.158secs adrift of Button and 0.067secs ahead of Hamilton, with the second Mercedes of Nico Rosberg just four thousandths of a second behind the 25-year-old.

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Although Red Bull Racing have been on pole at all seven grands prix this year, it is anticipated that run will end today. Sebastian Vettel, however, was at least in touch with the leading quartet as he finished 0.422secs off the pace, in contrast to team-mate Mark Webber who was in 14th, almost 1.5secs down.

Practice times are always relative, however, as fuel loads can often vary between team-mates, not just teams. On a circuit that should also be of benefit to Renault, Robert Kubica was just over half a second adrift of Button, with team-mate Vitaly Petrov in 13th on his first outing at the venue.

The Russian was one of eight drivers savouring one of the best circuits on the calendar for the first time, although given it's semi-permanent nature, there were complaints of it being dirty and greasy. The top ten was completed by Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, followed by the Force India of Vitantonio Liuzzi and Williams duo of Nico Hulkenberg and Rubens Barrichello. Felipe Massa, who this week signed a new two-year deal to remain at Ferrari through to the end of 2012, was 12th overall behind Adrian Sutil in his Force India.

Lucas di Grassi finished at the bottom of the standings without a time to his name as the Brazilian suffered a technical issue with his Virgin Racing that resulted in him stopping on track on his fourth installation lap.