Canadian GP - Slipping and sliding
Ice Hockey is the most popular sport in Canada and Kimi Raikkonen as a good Finn, is also a devotee of the game. However, both he and Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro team-mate Felipe Massa struggled a bit today when they discovered that the track surface at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve resembled that of an ice hockey ring in terms of the grip levels on offer.
At the end of three hours of free practice, held in warm conditions as Montreal finally warmed up after a cold week, it was reigning world champion Fernando Alonso who was quickest for McLaren-Mercedes. The Spaniard was the only driver to get under the 1`'17" barrier. Felipe Massa finally put together a strong lap right at the end of the afternoon session, steering his F2007 to second place, ahead of the second McLaren- Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton. Kimi Raikkonen set the fourth quickest time, while the ever consistent BMW Sauber of Nick Heidfeld was fifth ahead of Nico Rosberg in the Williams-Toyota. The factory Toyota team did not do so well, having a difficult day as Jarno Trulli suffered two front suspension failures after riding the kerbs at Turn 8. This corner also claimed the Renault of Heikki Kovalainen who crashed in the afternoon, while the twins of Red Bull Racing's Mark Webber and Scuderia Toro Rosso's Scott Speed had to go and see the Stewards after the American ran into the back of the Australian on the very last lap.
"It is difficult to get a clear picture of the situation because the track was really slippery today, more so than we could have expected," said Kimi. "But the grip level improved a bit in the afternoon. We got through our planned programme and now we have to study the data to work out how to improve our performance and find the best balance for the car, taking into account that the condition of the track surface should improve over the course of the weekend."
Luca Baldisserri said, "It was rather a complicated day today. This morning the track was virtually free of any grip whatsoever and we struggled to find the right settings on the F2007. Then, bit by bit as the track rubbered in, the situation improved and we can say we now understand in which direction we need to move forward. Both Kimi and Felipe are reasonably happy with the work achieved today. The pecking order seems to be more or less the same as we have seen to date this season: it's very close and it takes very little to make the balance swing one way or the other."
Tomorrow, Saturday, the whole programme comes forward an hour to better suit European TV schedules, with morning free practice at 10 and qualifying at one in the afternoon local time.