Is today the day the Formula 1 field gets shaken up?
It certainly could be.
With weather looming, as it often does at the Canadian Grand Prix, the teams are set for both the third practice session, and qualifying, ahead of Sunday’s main event. Today could be something of a voyage of discovery for the drivers and the teams, thanks in part to the weather but also Friday’s bizarre practice sessions.
The first practice session saw just four minutes of actual action, but was halted first when Pierre Gasly had a failure, and remained halted due to a CCTV failure on the track. FP2 was extended by thirty minutes as a result. Officials were able to complete repairs to the CCTV system, and a backup plan was put in place as well.
While Valtteri Bottas topped the timing sheets in the abbreviated FP1, it was a different story during FP2. With the threat of rain looming, many teams took to the track at the start of the extended FP2 looking to get in some early qualifying simulations, which saw the Ferrari duo of Carlos Sainz Jr. and Charles Leclerc at the top of the table early after some strong runs on the soft compound, followed by Max Verstappen.
Then with just over one hour to go in the extended session, the red flag was out again. Nico Hülkenberg’s Haas experienced an engine failure, forcing the driver to stop the car on the track and exit the cockpit before his VF-23 burst into flames. Marshals were able to get to the car before it caught fire, but they could not stave off the need for the stoppage.
This was the top five when the red flag came out:
The session resumed with 52 minutes left, and the threat of rain continuing to linger over the grid. Sam Collins of F1TV indicated that there were two storm cells lingering in the region that were expected to hit the area at some point in the next hour.
Then came another red flag, as Esteban Ocon of Alpine stopped on the track at the exit of Turn 9. That meant both Alpine drivers had experienced a failure on Friday, and with the rain coming in, teams were facing the prospects of resuming under wet conditions.
With under 30 minutes remaining, the Silver Arrows made some noise. Lewis Hamilton pushed to the top of the grid, followed just behind by George Russell, to put Mercedes P1 and P2 as the skies darkened.
As the clock ticked down to 15 minutes remaining, the wind picked up, the pollen was flying, and strikes of lightning were seen in the distance, just beyond the hairpin turn at the northern end of the circuit. The rain had arrived, and a flurry of activity broke out on pit lane. Ferrari made the decision to send both Sainz and Leclerc out on the hard compound, hoping to get just the slightest bit of data on the hards before FP2 came to a close.
The conditions also made for some incredible visuals:
The bulk of the teams made the switch to the intermediate tyres, including Mercedes, Ferrari, and Red Bull, along with Gasly and Oscar Piastri. Suddenly, the skies opened, and the downpour began. That led to an incredible moment on F1TV, as Alex Jacques lamented “what a ridiculous day.” Some drivers were out on the track with slick compounds, and struggled to get back to the pits.
But with just a minute remaining, Alonso and Stroll came out to the cheers of an emptying grandstand on the intermediates. Stroll went deep into the curve at Turn 9, and Sainz did as well, and finally — mercifully — the session came to a close:
Here is the classification for FP2:
With that as the backdrop, we turn to today’s FP3 and qualifying session. Qualifying will get underway at 4:00 p.m. Eastern, but we will be providing live updates starting at 3:00 p.m. from FP3, so come back early, and often!