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Max Verstappen suffers early setback at Canadian GP as Red Bull car fault restricts practice running

Max Verstappen admitted his start to the Canadian Grand Prix weekend was “not ideal” after his Red Bull car hit technical trouble on Friday in Montreal.

On a disrupted opening day for the whole grid amid on-off rain at the Circuit Giles Villeneuve, Verstappen was restricted to just four laps in Practice Two due to an ERS (Energy Recovery System) problem which saw his RB20 trail smoke before returning to the pits.

Red Bull are investigating the cause of the fault ahead of Saturday’s action in Montreal, when qualifying is at 9pm live on Sky Sports F1.

“It’s not ideal,” said Verstappen, whose Red Bull team are aiming to return to the front this weekend after being outperformed by Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes last time out in Monaco.

“I would have liked to drive more laps, some other people had a few more laps in the dry and a few more laps in the wet.

“It’s definitely not how I would have liked to get on in FP2 but it’s more important to figure out what actually happened and what kind of implication it will have for this year and the rest of the year.”

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Max Verstappen believes it’s important to figure out the implications of the electrical issue he suffered during P2 ahead of this weekend.

Verstappen, who is using a fresh engine this weekend – his third of the 2024 season – added: “They are investigating it now. I haven’t been back in the garage yet but I’m sure soon we will figure out what it is.”

The Dutchman had completed only 10 laps in Practice One after running in that session had first been delayed by a morning hailstorm and then, once the track was deemed ready for cars, a red flag caused by a crash from Sauber’s Zhou Guanyu.

Both Friday timesheets were effectively rendered academic by the changeable weather conditions, meaning few concrete clues as to the weekend’s pecking order have yet emerged.

Will Red Bull struggle again or be back on form in Montreal?

Although Verstappen and Red Bull’s season-long positions at the head of F1’s world championship tables remain unchanged, their respective points advantages have narrowed in recent weeks amid a tightening of the field at the front of the grid.

Verstappen has only won one of the last three races – and then narrowly so, from McLaren’s Lando Norris at Imola – and on Thursday struck a note of caution about their prospects in Montreal this weekend given the track features the kind of kerbs that the 2024 Red Bull is not enjoying.

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Highlights from Friday Practice at the Canadian Grand Prix.

Assessing the team’s start to a weekend where the weather is predicted to remain changeable, Sergio Perez, who finished 10th in Practice Two, said: “It was overall a very tricky day with the conditions that we had.

“It’s going to be very important [on Saturday] to be out there at the right time. We could see already that it was changing quite a bit if you were not pushing on the right lap, it could be quite a difference.

“We have a bit of an idea on the car but it’s very difficult to draw any conclusions on a track that was dominated by the weather really.

“We will get to see the competitiveness [on Saturday].”

Leclerc pleased with ‘very competitive’ start | Norris: Ferrari seem ahead

While the inconsistent track conditions may have made it difficult to gain a truly accurate read on where the leading teams stand on pace, Monaco victor Charles Leclerc saw enough to draw early encouragement from Ferrari’s Friday showing.

“All in all, I’m very happy because we’re very competitive in all the conditions,” said Leclerc, who finished fourth fastest on the P2 timesheet.

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Charles Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton narrowly avoid one of Montreal famous groundhogs during P2 of the Canadian GP.

“We never really were on top of the timesheet just because we didn’t do the right time in the session having the driest track. But, all in all, every lap we were doing we were very competitive so that is a good thing.

“But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to improve on the car. We still have to do some changes for [Saturday] which hopefully will bring us into a better position again.”

McLaren’s Lando Norris, an obviously unrepresentative 20th and last in the second session, suggested Ferrari were the team to beat.

“At the minute I think we seem a little bit off,” he said.

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Lando Norris isn’t sure where McLaren are in the order for Montreal but feels it was a reasonable first day on track.

“Ferrari seem definitely a little bit ahead. But I don’t know where we are at the minute because the conditions are changing.

“The Englishman added: We learned a good amount, actually not in the dry. Didn’t learn enough in the dry to be honest. We did the least laps I think out of everyone. So not the best thing with that.

“In the wet a good amount, I think in a reasonable place. It’s always tricky around here but I think it was a reasonable first day.”

Sky Sports F1’s live Canadian GP schedule

Saturday June 8
5.15pm: Canadian GP Practice Three (session starts at 5.30pm)
8pm: Canadian GP Qualifying build-up
9pm: Canadian GP Qualifying
11pm: Ted’s Qualifying Notebook

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A look back at the drivers who have fallen victim to the infamous ‘Wall of Champions’ over the years at the Canadian Grand Prix.

Sunday June 9
5.30pm: Grand Prix Sunday – Canadian GP build-up
9pm: Chequered Flag – Canadian GP reaction
10pm: Ted’s Notebook

Formula 1 is on Montreal for the Canadian Grand Prix and you can watch every session at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve this weekend live on Sky Sports F1, with Sunday’s race at 7pm. Stream every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership – No contract, cancel anytime

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