Verstappen quickest; Canadians Stroll and Latifi on track in Canada GP practice

MONTREAL — Max Verstappen‘s Red Bull proved fastest in both practice runs Friday at the Canadian Grand Prix.

The Dutchman turned in the day‘s quickest lap in the afternoon session of one minute 12.198 seconds on the 4.361-kilometre Circuit Gilles Villeneuve after leading the morning session at 1:13.302.

He edged Kimi Raikkonen‘s Ferrari at 1:12.320. Daniel Ricciardo, coming off a victory two weeks ago at Monaco, lost power early in the afternoon and spent more than an hour in the garage before returning to post the third-quickest time of 1:12.603 for Red Bull.

Defending champion Lewis Hamilton‘s Mercedes was fourth at 1:12.777, Sebastian Vettel‘s Ferrari was fifth at 1:12.985 with Valtteri Bottas‘ Mercedes sixth in 1:13.061.

A rare day in Formula One saw two Canadians on track at once — Williams driver Lance Stroll of Montreal and Force India reserve driver Nicholas Latifi of Toronto, who ran only in the first of two 90-minute practice sessions.

Stroll struggled, touching a wall in the morning session and managing only 19th place in the afternoon, only ahead of teammate Sergey Sorotkin.

Latifi was 19th among the 20 drivers to post a time in the morning session, although he said he was only testing the car for the team and not looking for a fast lap. The 22-year-old drove in the morning session only and handed the car back to Sergio Perez of Mexico for the rest of the weekend.

A third practice session plus qualifying is to run on Saturday, with the race on Sunday

The session stopped for three minutes after Carlos Sainz‘s Renault hit a barrier and spun out, then yellow flags came out when Stoffel Vandoorne broke his suspension after his McLaren touched a wall, ending his afternoon.

In the morning, Latifi ran 28 laps, with 1:17.145 his best. Like many drivers, he had a brief slip off the track 50 minutes in at a chicane on the back side of the course.

"It was a special feeling pulling out of pit lane — I had a big smile on my face," said Latifi. "It was especially nice on my last lap to see all the Canadian flags waving to me.

"Overall I was happy with the session. The main thing was to get through the program, which we did. I kept it off the walls, which isn‘t easy to do on this track."

Stroll also had a mishap in the morning session as his back right tire clipped the infamous Wall of Champions on the final turn, causing a puncture. The same spot has seen many crashes involving world champion drivers over the years. The 19-year-old made it slowly back to the Williams garage.

Latifi was named reserve driver by Force India this season after serving in a similar role with Renault. He attended the Canadian Grand Prix the last two years without getting a chance to drive.

He has raced in the F2 series the last two seasons and currently sits 10th in F2 standings after eight races this year, including a third-place finish at Baku, Azerbaijan. He hopes to finish in the top five to earn enough points for his F1 superlicence.

Stroll picked up his first career points with a ninth-place finish as a rookie at last year‘s Canadian GP. He sits 16th in driver standings with four points from six events as the Williams car has struggled with performance all season.