Formula 1

F1 leader Max Verstappen hit by smoky battery problem in Canadian Grand Prix practice

F1 leader Max Verstappen hit by smoky battery problem in Canadian Grand Prix practice

MONTREAL (AP) — Formula 1 points leader Max Verstappen left the track early with his Red Bull machine smoking, while Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso had the fastest lap Friday in the second free practice at the Canadian Grand Prix.

After Circuit Gilles Villeneuve was hit by heavy rain, lightning and hail before the first practice session, Verstappen returned to the garage four laps into the second session after a run on dry tires. Red Bull said the smoke was caused by a battery issue.

“It’s not ideal, I would have liked to drive more laps,” Verstappen said. “It’s definitely not how I would have liked to get on in FP2 but I think it’s more important to figure out what actually happened and what kind of implications that will have for this weekend and the rest of the year.”

Alonso had a fast lap of 1 minute, 15.810 seconds. Mercedes driver George Russell was second at 1:16.273, and Aston Martin's Lance Strol, the lone Canadian in field, followed at 1:16.464.

“It was a tricky Friday for everyone,” Alonso said. “But it could be like this for qualifying and the race, so it’s still very useful information. The right decision can gain you five seconds, wrong decision and you’re out of the race.”

Earlier, McLaren’s Lando Norris had a lap at 1:24.435 after the downpour delayed the first practice. Ferrari's Carlos Sainz was second, followed by teammate Charles Leclerc,

Lightning, heavy rain and hail rolled through a little more than an hour before the practice start time. Sauber driver Valtteri Bottas attempted to form a snowball out of the large pieces of hail that filled the paddock.

“Today was definitely an odd one,” seven-time season champion Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes said. “It was literally summer this morning, then it rained hailstone. I can’t even remember the last time I saw hailstone but they were huge. Then sunny again, really hot and humid, and then raining again.”

Event organizers asked spectators to leave the grandstands amid the inclement weather while police shut down the bridges accessing Notre Dame Island.

The storm subsided roughly 15 minutes before the expected start time and the site was reopened to fans. The drivers didn’t hit the wet track until 22 minutes into the session as groundcrews worked to clear the water, but conditions remained less than ideal.

Sauber driver Zhou Guanyu triggered a red flag five minutes later when he aqua-planed and clipped the wall at Turn 5 before grinding to a halt. Several other drivers, including Bottas and Stroll, slid off course and into the grass during the session.

More rain is expected through the weekend. Qualifying is Saturday for the race Sunday.


AP Formula 1:


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