Motor racing-Hamilton dominates Canadian GP practice

 Hamilton walks in the paddock at the Gilles Villeneuve circuit.
Hamilton walks in the paddock at the Gilles Villeneuve circuit.PHOTO: EPA

MONTREAL (REUTERS) - Lewis Hamilton dominated Canadian Grand Prix practice on Friday in a further indication that the Formula One championship momentum could be swinging back towards him.

The triple world champion set the pace in the morning session at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and went even quicker in the afternoon, clocking a best time of one minute 14.212 seconds in his Mercedes.

Two weeks after finally taking his first win of the season in Monaco, the Briton will be confident of a fifth victory in Montreal on Sunday which, if team-mate Nico Rosberg draws a blank, will see him regain the overall lead.

Rosberg has never won on the island track, finishing runner-up for the past two years, and the championship leader has work to do after ending the day third fastest and more than half-a-second off Hamilton.

The German was leapfrogged on the time-sheets in the second session by countryman Sebastian Vettel, the four times champion, who was second fastest in a Ferrari that has a new turbocharger for this race.

Vettel is still seeking his first win of the season and, after finishing 0.257 seconds off Hamilton, will be hoping the seventh round brings that elusive victory.

Max Verstappen showed his confidence has not been dented by crashing out in Monaco, just two weeks after his historic win in Barcelona, with the fourth fastest time ahead of Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.

Had it not been for the pit-stop error in Monaco that wrecked Ricciardo’s victory chances, the team would have been aiming for a third success in a row.

The Red Bull duo, making the most of improved Tag Heuer-badged Renault engines, were the only other drivers within a second of Hamilton.

Valtteri Bottas set the sixth fastest time for Williams while Jenson Button, the 2009 world champion who is giving little away about his plans for next year, was seventh after an oil leak in the opening session.

Button’s McLaren team mate Fernando Alonso had a few brushes against the wall on his way to the 11th fastest time behind Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz who completed the top 10.

The Williams mechanics had to work hard in the lunchtime heat to repair Felipe Massa’s car after it slammed into the barriers when the Drag Reduction System failed after seven laps.

The hard work paid off as the Brazilian racked up 44 laps in the afternoon.