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Canadian GP: Lewis Hamilton encouraged by Mercedes practice performance in Montreal

Lewis Hamilton was encouraged by the performance of his Mercedes in challenging conditions during Friday practice at the Canadian Grand Prix; watch qualifying for the Canadian GP on Saturday at 9pm, with Sunday's race at 7pm - live on Sky Sports F1

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A confident Lewis Hamilton felt Mercedes were closer to the front after a 'strong' Friday Practice in Montreal

Lewis Hamilton reckons Mercedes are "closer to the front" at the Canadian Grand Prix after being encouraged by his car's performance during Friday practice in Montreal.

Mercedes have failed to keep pace with Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren during the opening eight rounds of the 2024 season, with Hamilton and team-mate George Russell yet to score a podium finish for the Silver Arrows.

However, during Friday's two sessions in which the competitive picture was difficult to assess due to adverse weather conditions, Hamilton was encouraged by the way the W15 felt ahead of final practice and qualifying on Saturday.

"It's too early to say," the seven-time world champion said. "I feel like I'm in fighting spirits, I feel like the car is reacting to my input and I feel really confident out there.

"But we won't know until we get out, and Saturday is often a different day for us but I'm hoping it is a good day. But I think in either [wet or dry] conditions I felt really strong today. So, I do feel like we are closer to the front this weekend."

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Highlights from Friday Practice at the Canadian Grand Prix

Mercedes have gradually been bringing upgrades after a hugely underwhelming start to their campaign, but opted not to run their new front wing in Friday's wet conditions over fears of damaging them with only limited stock of the updated part.

While teams and drivers were unable to amass any significant data in dry conditions, the fact more rain is forecast for the remainder of the weekend means Friday's running could turn out to provide useful information.

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"It felt great," Hamilton continued. "I was just raring to go, just every second. Just telling the guys 'get out, get out, let's go'. Just to maximise time on track whatever the conditions.

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

"This is a track where it's building blocks. It's about getting as much time on track and understanding both conditions and also the changes they made to the surface and also some of the run-off areas."

Hamilton finished second practice just over a second back from Fernando Alonso's leading time, but had been on course to outpace the Aston Martin driver, setting the fastest first and second sectors of the session before being held up by traffic towards the end of the lap.

"It was a really good session, a good day," added Hamilton, a seven-time winner in Canada. "The car was feeling strong, so I thoroughly enjoyed the session.

"I didn't obviously get to finish my [best] lap, but yeah."

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Russell: The car is feeling good

Russell, who finished second to Alonso in Friday's second session, was also cautiously optimistic over Mercedes' prospects for what he expects to be a hectic Saturday.

"It was good fun out there," Russell said. "Difficult to take much learning because every single lap was changing conditions. Spitting, then raining, then drying up, which was pretty fun.

"The car's been feeling good but we'll probably only find out tomorrow.

"In FP3 you're usually focusing on your qualifying runs but we're going to have to focus a bit on our race runs, then focus at the end of the session on the qualy runs.

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"Then we're going to have to be very quick in between the two sessions to make changes, because in all honesty, there's not a lot any team or driver has learned today."

The latest forecast suggests rain is possible on Saturday and Sunday at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, an eventuality that Russell believes would suit Mercedes.

"I felt confident in these conditions," the Brit added. "You need to have faith in the car beneath you to push the limits when it's constantly changing, and I did, to be honest.

"So I think we're in a good place if the conditions continue. If it's fully dry, honestly we have no idea. But the first view is that the car is feeling good."

Sky Sports F1's live Canadian GP schedule

Montreal hosts the ninth round of the 2024 F1 season with the Canadian Grand Prix
Image: Montreal hosts the ninth round of the 2024 F1 season with the Canadian Grand Prix

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

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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