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Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes cuts a frustrated figure after practice at the Canadian Grand Prix. Photo: EPA-EFE

Canadian Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton car ‘undriveable’ and Charles Leclerc penalised after Max Verstappen sets pace

  • Leclerc faces substantial grid penalty in Montreal, while Hamilton says his car is ‘getting worse’
  • China’s Zhou Guanyu was 16th in practice as world champion Verstappen, who will start his 150th Formula One race, set the pace
Charles Leclerc’s hopes of victory at this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix were dented when it was confirmed he will face a substantial grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

Soon after finishing second behind series leader and world champion Max Verstappen of Red Bull in second practice at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on Friday, Ferrari said they would be fitting new electronic control components to Leclerc’s power unit.

The 24-year-old Monegasque has suffered two engine failures this year and the new parts will mean he exceeds the limit and will face a penalty of at least 10 places.

The team may consider giving him a complete new power unit. Leclerc has slipped from leading the title race to third behind Verstappen and Sergio Perez, despite taking four consecutive pole positions.

Also struggling was seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, who declared his Mercedes car “undriveable” and “getting worse”, before later dismissing any hope that it would improve before next year.

Verstappen set the pace as he completed a double top in Friday’s practice. The 24-year-old Dutchman, who will start his 150th Formula One race on Sunday, clocked a best lap time of one minute and 14.127 seconds in the second session to beat Leclerc by 0.081 seconds.

China’s Zhou Guanyu, of Alfa Romeo, was 16th, with a best time of 1:15.526.

“It’s been a positive day and overall a good start to the weekend,” said Verstappen. “There are always other things that you can look for to find the perfect balance, but we have a competitive car, so that’s good.

“If it rains in qualifying, it’s the same for everyone and we will just deal with it,” he said, with rain expected during the weekend.

Carlos Sainz was third-quickest in the second Ferrari ahead of resurgent four-time champion Sebastian Vettel of Aston Martin and two-time champion Fernando Alonso of Alpine.

Pierre Gasly improved to take sixth place for AlphaTauri ahead of Mercedes’ George Russell, Lando Norris and his McLaren teammate Daniel Ricciardo.

Esteban Ocon was 10th in the second Alpine ahead of a strangely off-colour Sergio Perez in the second Red Bull, local hope Lance Stroll in the second Aston Martin and Hamilton in the second Mercedes.

Hamilton, who claimed his maiden Formula One victory at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in 2007 and has triumphed a record seven times at the track, admitted that the Mercedes he has struggled with this season is “here for the year”.

‘Heartbroken’ Zhou Guanyu demands answers from Alfa Romeo over car failure

Blighted by performance problems, notably with “porpoising” and bouncing, the team had tried some radical set-up ideas in a bid to solve their problems.

“The car is getting worse the more we do to it,” said Hamilton. “It’s pretty much like every Friday for us – trying lots of things, including an experimental floor on my side, which didn’t work.

“Nothing we do to this car seems to work. We were going in different ways but nothing works. For me it was a disaster.

“We keep working on it, but it is what it is and I think this is the car for the year so we just have to tough it out and work hard on building a better car for next year.”

Hamilton laughed as he described the experience of driving his car as it bounced, jumped and moved around on the track.

In the closing minutes, with a new floor fitted, he told the team “this car is now undriveable”.