Canadian GP: Mercedes and Ferrari set for 'exciting' battle
Button predicts "exciting" Canadian GP with Mercedes quick in the corners, but Ferrari strong on the straights; Watch qualy on Sky F1
By James Galloway and Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 08/06/19 3:47pm
Sky F1's Jenson Button believes the early form from the Canadian GP suggests an "exciting" race weekend should be in store in Montreal.
Ferrari outpaced unbeaten Mercedes in Friday's second practice session and the midfield proved closely-packed, while drivers through the field struggled with tyre performance over long race-fuel runs amid hot track temperatures.
- Hamilton in 'headmaster's office'
- P2: Leclerc on top after Hamilton crash
- The Canadian GP schedule - qualy at 7pm
"Qualifying is one thing but the race is something completely different altogether, with the degradation that we're seeing on the tyres," said Button, the 2009 world champion.
"This is really exciting. I think it could really mix up the race."
What's the picture at the front?
Mercedes and Ferrari each finished with one-twos in one practice session apiece on Friday, with the latter topping the quicker second session.
That led Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas to say that while Mercedes still "seemed strong on both long and short runs", Ferrari were "very quick on the straights, so I expect it to be a very close fight".
However, both Ferrari drivers were keen to play down any suggestions that they ended day one with any advantage at the front of the field.
"We are not the fastest," insisted Sebastian Vettel. "I know that in terms of the one-lap performance it looks maybe like that today, this afternoon, but there's still quite a reasonable gap to Mercedes."
Charles Leclerc, who set the fastest overall time, added: "I still believe that Mercedes is very, very strong and I expect it to be very hard to beat them in qualifying so we need to work very hard.
"We did a good step in terms of performance from P1 to P2, the car felt better but we should do another step to try and hopefully challenge Mercedes tomorrow.
"If you are quick in the straight you will be a bit more struggling in the corners. At the moment it's our compromise and how we work the best. We'll see if that's enough."
McLaren leading the midfield?
Sky F1's Karun Chandhok labelled Carlos Sainz his star of Friday, with the McLaren closer to Charles Leclerc out in front - just 0.3s - than he was his nearest midfield driver.
Sainz finished P2 in fourth, but isn't expecting to be quite that high up come qualifying.
"Obviously I'm pretty happy with the day, it's probably one of the best Fridays of the season," said Sainz, who has scored points in three consecutive races. "Still, I don't believe a bit that we are fourth fastest, I think we are behind the top three teams.
"I guess I was getting comfortable with the car but probably [on Saturday] it will be back to reality."
Sky Sports F1 is the home of live and exclusive F1. Find out more here to watch the 2019 season live