The Mercedes duo of Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher completed 110 laps of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve between them today in Montreal as F1 return to Canada after years absence.
Nico Rosberg finished the day third fastest and, despite difficult track conditions, was pleased with the performance of his car around the Montreal track.
“I’m generally pleased with the progress that we made today although conditions were difficult because it was very slippery out there on the track,” explained the German.
“We made some good set-up changes to help the car around this circuit and spent a lot of time working with the tyres to understand their performance. The soft option tyre was particularly difficult and we were struggling a little there, like many teams. But overall it was a good start and we have a lot of information to look at tonight before qualifying.”
Michael Schumacher was only ninth fastest at the end of the day, but set the second fastest time in the morning’s free practice session. The seven-times world champion acknowledges the variation in performance between the two sessions, and thinks that tyre wear could be a major issue this weekend, especially if the expected rain appears.
“My sessions today were a bit mixed,” said Schumacher. “In the morning, we were making progress but towards the end we carried over some issues into the second session which we could not solve. The main focus this afternoon was to get the tyres together.
“The track is pretty green with not much rubber which means the tyres are getting a hard time and everybody was struggling with graining. If it rains, the track will remain green and it will probably be difficult to hold the tyres together again, even the harder compound.
“For tomorrow, it is difficult to predict what we will be able to achieve. My feeling is that we will perform according to our expectations which is around the third quickest of the teams.”
Ross Brawn says that the team are in a ‘decent’ position as they head into qualifying, but realises that tyre strategies could be a defining factor on this tricky Canadian circuit:
“We’re reasonably happy with where we are today in terms of performance and were able to achieve some good longer runs this afternoon in preparation for the race.
“The key consideration for the weekend looks to be the tyre strategies and managing the levels of graining, particularly on the options and to a lesser extent the prime, as was evident from the struggles faced by most of the teams this afternoon.
“With the predicted weather conditions for the weekend, this could all change, but for now we are in a decent position and looking forward to qualifying tomorrow.”