No Bull! Vettel tops in practice

DEAN MCNULTY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:41 PM ET

TORONTO - Any hopes that rival teams might use the tight corners at the Canadian Grand Prix’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve to pass the dominant Red Bull Formula One cars were pretty much tossed into the St. Lawrence River on Friday.

Sebastian Vettel put his Red Bull on the top of the leader board in the second of two practices on the Ile Notre Dame track with a lap of one minute, 16.877 seconds.

That was more than a full tenth of a second faster than Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso’s 1:16:963 and nearly three-tenths faster than Nico Rosberg, who laid down a 1:17:151 lap in a Mercedes.

Championship points leader Mark Webber was fourth fastest yesterday with a lap of 1:17.273.

The best Jenson Button — who is second in the championship — could muster was a 1:17.961 in his McLaren.

This was the same Button who had predicted earlier this week that the long straightaways and sharp corners in Montreal would be an advantage for McLaren.

It certainly didn’t seem that way Friday.

Vettel, however, like many of the drivers, did say that the track was very slippery and made for some tense moments.

But he blamed that on the fact that there was no race in Canada last season.

“It’s very slippery — for two years we haven’t had a race here and the circuit needs time but it was already much better in the afternoon,” he said.

Vettel said that the more laps he made the more he felt at ease on the 4.361-km course.

“It’s looking good, I feel comfortable in the car,” he said.

Vettel, who is in only his third full F-1 season, sounded like a veteran in describing his impressions of the Montreal GP layout

“The secret here is the tires,” he said.

“Everyone was sliding around a bit at the end — it was a bit more like rally cross than Formula One. The track started very green this morning, but that’s normal and it will improve as the weekend goes on.

“The secret is not to panic, as (the track) tends to come to you. We only made some small adjustments between the two sessions.”

Button said if there’s a secret to getting more grip at Montreal he had yet to find it in his McLaren.

“The tires aren’t lasting very long. I ran with the option tire at the end with heavy fuel and it grained so much I had to come in,” he said.

“I struggled with the balance and instability under braking.”

The real action starts Saturday with knock-out qualifying and Webber, for one, thinks it’s going to be a fight to the finish especially if the threat of rain, forecast for near the end of the session, holds true.

But he said that the type of tire wear that concerned some drivers Friday shouldn’t be a problem in qualifying.

“There was some graining with the option tire, but they’ll get better as the track rubbers in, so I’m not worried about it,” Webber said.

“It’ll be a hard fight on Saturday with everyone, but the car ran really well (Friday) so we’ll see what happens.”

Michael Schumacher, who holds the record with seven wins in Canada, wasn’t among the leaders in practice — his best lap was a 1:17.688 — but he is a master in the wet.

And in the morning Friday runs he was able to turn the third fastest lap so he can’t be counted out as a threat to win for an eighth time here in Montreal.


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