Vettel tops in practice, Alonso 2nd
MONTREAL -- Sebastian Vettel topped the Canadian Grand Prix speed chart Friday, rebounding from a costly accident two weeks ago in Turkey to show that Red Bull has the speed to extend its season-opening pole streak.
Vettel edged Ferrari's Fernando Alonso by 0.086 seconds, turning a lap of 1 minute, 16.877 seconds in the second 90-minute practice session at 2.709-mile Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Fifth in the opening practice, Vettel used Bridgestone's super-soft compound tires on his fast lap in warm afternoon conditions.
"The secret here is the tires," Vettel said. "Everyone was sliding around a bit at the end. It was a bit more like rally cross than Formula 1. The track started very green [rubber-free] this morning, but that's normal and it will improve as the weekend goes on.
"The secret with these circuits is not to panic, as they tend to come toward you. We only made some small adjustments between the two sessions."
Mercedes' Nico Rosberg was third in the second practice, 0.274 seconds back.
Red Bull's Mark Webber, a two-time winner this year and the Formula 1 points leader, was fourth after running 14th in the first session.
"We were pleasantly surprised with the pace," Webber said. "We're going to have a tight fight with everyone tomorrow, but the car ran really well. There was some graining with the option tire, but they'll get better as the track rubbers in."
Red Bull has won the first seven poles of the season, with Vettel -- the Malaysian winner in April -- taking the top spot three times and Webber four.
But all the focus has been on the team's costly run-in in Istanbul when Vettel made contact with Webber and spun while trying to pass for the lead.
"It's been dealt with. It's been discussed," team principal Christian Horner said. "It was shame to lose a Grand Prix win and 1-2 finish that way, but you move on."
In the first practice session, McLaren's Jenson Button led the 24-car field at 1:18.127 on Bridgestone's medium-compound tires.
Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher, driving for Mercedes GP after a three-year retirement, was second in the opening practice and ninth in the second. The 41-year-old German star has won seven times on the Montreal track.
"My sessions were a bit mixed," Schumacher said. "In the morning, we were making progress, but toward the end we carried over some issues into the second session, which we could not solve. The main focus this afternoon was to get the tires together. The track is pretty green with not much rubber, which means the tires are getting a hard time and everybody was struggling with graining.
"If it rains, the track will remain green and it will probably be difficult to hold the tires together again, even the harder compound."
After a final hour of practice Saturday morning, the field will be set in the afternoon with three rounds of qualifying.
"For tomorrow, it is difficult to predict what we will be able to achieve," Schumacher said. "My feeling is that we will perform according to our expectations, which is around the third quickest of the teams."
McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, the winner in Turkey, was third in the first session and seventh in the second. He won the 2007 race in Montreal for his first F1 victory.
"I'm not entirely happy with how this afternoon went," Hamilton said. "Today, in general, the track has been incredibly difficult to drive. It's very hard to switch the tires on and get heat into them. It's so slippery, it's like driving on an ice rink. It's such a huge difference from when we were last here."
Renault's Robert Kubica, the 2008 winner for BMW Sauber in F1's last Montreal race, was sixth in the opening practice and eighth in the second.
"It was quite a difficult Friday," Kubica said. "Overall, we're struggling with a lack of grip and it seems like everybody is suffering with the tire wear on the long runs. So managing the tires will be quite an important factor for the weekend."
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press
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