Formula One: Canada practice cut to five minutes by circuit power problems

AFP , Friday 16 Jun 2023

Opening free practice at the Canadian Grand Prix was hit by power and communications infrastructure problems that ended the action after only five minutes on Friday.

Mercedes British driver Lewis Hamilton during the first practice session for the 2023 Canada Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in Montreal, Canada, on June 16, 2023. Photo: AFP


To the frustration and growing annoyance of drivers, teams and a big crowd at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, the only running saw 12 cars make brief ‘installation’ appearances before a red flag.

The stoppage was initiated by French driver Pierre Gasly’s Alpine suffering a transmission failure after only four minutes – after which there was no further scheduled action.

His car was retrieved but the track saw no more cars lapping as the organisers sought to deliver a compromise by planning to start second practice 30 minutes earlier than scheduled.

Both sessions are usually run for 60 minutes.

In a statement, the FIA said the re-start was delayed “due to issues with the local CCTV infrastructure around the circuit. The local organisers are working to resolve the issue and until that time we can’t restart for safety reasons.”

A later statement added that “the CCTV is not synched correctly and until the issue has been fixed we cannot run on track. This system is a local installation and they are continuing to work to resolve the problem.

“The clock will continue to run down on FP1 and the session won’t be extended as there must be 2.5hrs between FP1 and FP2. We are looking at options to extend FP2.”

The session had begun in warm conditions. All the teams were sporting upgraded parts, notably Aston Martin with a major package at the home event for team owner Lawrence Stroll.

When the action began, however, the session was rapidly halted after only five minutes – Pierre Gasly’s Alpine slowing to a halt at Turn Eight. “I lost the driveshaft,” said the Frenchman. “Let me know what to do. No gears…!”

His Alpine team-mate Esteban Ocon’s was on jacks in the team garage as the session was red-flagged, leaving everyone else frustrated, Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas having set an early fastest lap ahead of home hero Lance Stroll.

With heavy rain forecast for later Friday or Saturday, the absence of a first session was a setback for all involved.

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