(Montreal) Seven-time winner of the Canadian Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton has not denied one of the circuits where he is most comfortable. The Briton was the fastest driver in free practice on Friday.

He set the fastest lap of the day, stopping the clock at 1 minute 13 seconds and 718 thousandths. His teammate at Mercedes, George Russell, took second place, just under three hundredths of a second behind.

Carlos Sainz, at Ferrari, followed him. The weekend is off to a good start for the Scuderia, as Charles Leclerc took fifth position. Quebecer Lance Stroll, at Aston Martin, was the ninth fastest.

The team had announced that it had made changes to its car, and these were to be put through its paces on Friday. Without going into details, Stroll said he was happy with the results so far. “It’s a good day, we did what we wanted. We’ll see what happens tomorrow,” he told reporters in torrential rain.

Driver standings leader Max Verstappen finished sixth.

The second free practice session was cut short by a few minutes, as a violent downpour suddenly hit the Gilles-Villeneuve circuit just before the end.

The first session had lasted only a few moments. A clutch problem forced Pierre Gasly, of Alpine, to immobilize his car. A red flag was raised and all the cars entered the garage, while Gasly’s single-seater was evacuated from the track.

The action never resumed. A synchronization problem between the security cameras installed on the circuit forced the cancellation of the end of the session. A third of the pilots had never even started their engine.

The third and final free practice session will take place on Saturday, as will qualifying.