June 6, 2008 / 4:22 PM / in 9 years

Hamilton fastest in Canadian GP practice

MONTREAL (Reuters) - McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time in practice for the Canadian Grand Prix on Friday with a best lap of one minute 15.752.

<p>McLaren Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain takes part in the afternoon practice session at the Canadian F1 Grand Prix in Montreal June 6, 2008. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi</p>

After a wet track had restricted the drivers in the morning session, the world championship leader pulled out a time which was 0.271 faster than that of second quickest Robert Kubica in a BMW Sauber.

The 23-year-old Briton, who took his first grand prix win at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve last year, lapped fastest with his final effort of the day.

He will now be confident of repeating his 2007 pole position in qualifying Saturday as he looks to extend his three point lead over Ferrari’s world champion Kimi Raikkonen.

“In the afternoon, we were able to improve the car on every run - I felt very comfortable with the set up and balance,” said Hamilton.

“We’ve still got some work to do ahead of qualifying and the race but we’ve already got some positive running under our belts,” he added.

Kubica, who was second quickest behind Ferrari’s Felipe Massa in the first session, looked sharp throughout the day and his performance will ease any worries about the psychological effect of the Pole’s horrific crash at the circuit last year.

Raikkonen was third fastest, 0.341 behind Hamilton, on a grey and overcast day with McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen and Massa producing the next quickest laps.

“I‘m quite satisfied with this first day of testing,” said Raikkonen. “We were always quick. The car turned out to be well balanced right from the morning and I think we can aim for the top spots over the rest of the weekend.”

Massa did not participate in the last 15 minutes of the final session due to a technical problem with his car.

“My car seemed to suffer some sort of blackout, gradually all the systems shut down and I had to stop at the side of the track,” said the Brazilian.

“Even if we did not get through everything we wanted to do, this problem won’t cost us anything. From what I could understand today it is very close between us and our rivals,” he said.

The exit of turn four proved problematic for a number of drivers with Kubica and Toyota’s Timo Glock both making contact.

Brazilian rookie Nelson Piquet’s miserable form continued with the Renault driver slowest in the afternoon with a lap 2.324 off Hamilton’s pace after he suffered a gearbox failure.

Editing by Alan Baldwin

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