MONTREAL (AP) — Max Verstappen was in a better mood after a couple of practice sessions at Formula One’s Canadian Grand Prix.
Scorching the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve with the fastest times of the day will have that effect on a driver.
A day after Verstappen half-jokingly threatened to head-butt anyone who asked him about recent crashes, the Dutchman completed the 2.71-mile (4.36-km) lap in 1 minute, 12.198 seconds. It was the best time in Friday afternoon’s practice and a full second better than his best lap in the morning, when he was also the fastest.
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was 0.13 seconds slower, followed by Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate and Monaco winner Daniel Ricciardo. Then came three-time defending Montreal winner Lewis Hamilton, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, and Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas.
“We still have work to do,” Vettel said.
Verstappen’s decision-making has been challenged following crashes at Baku, when he and Ricciardo took each other out of contention for the podium, and at Monaco, when the Dutchman missed qualifying after crashing at the end of the third practice session.
Asked about his driving style on Thursday after arriving in Montreal, he said, “I get really tired of all the questions. And I think if I get a few more, I’ll head-butt someone.”
His outlook had improved on Friday after leading in practice for the first time this year.
“Happy with the progress we made today,” Verstappen tweeted. “The car was working well. Feeling positive.”
A four-time Formula One champion, Hamilton is looking for his fourth straight win and his seventh overall in Montreal, which would tie Michael Schumacher for the most at the track; no one else has won more than three times.
“Didn’t have any problems,” said Hamilton, who leads the championship standings by 14 points over Vettel and 38 over Ricciardo.
All three have won two races so far this season.
Mercedes did not practice on the hypersoft tires, leaving Ricciardo wondering if he has seen their best effort.
“They’ll be hard to beat,” the Australian said.
Ricciardo is third in the standings, but he also failed to finish two races. He spent most of the second practice session in the pits waiting for his team to iron out an electrical issue, and managed just 17 laps in the session.
Only Stoffel Vandoorne and Carlos Sainz, who crashed out of the session, posted fewer trips around the track.
“It was a little bit frustrating, but it doesn’t seem too dramatic” of a problem, Ricciardo said. “It was waiting, waiting, waiting and eventually we got out. The lap time, I can’t say I’m too excited about.”
It was a rough day for Renault, which saw Nico Hulkenberg fail to post a flying lap in the first session because of a gearbox problem and then run 14th in the afternoon. Teammate Sainz put the back end of his car into the wall early in the afternoon and managed just nine laps.
Romain Grosjean damaged his nose cone when he hit an animal, believed to be a groundhog in the afternoon.
In the morning session, Williams driver Sergey Sirotkin spun and hit a wall, but was able to continue. Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson also had a spin that left him facing the wrong way on the track, but he straightened out and resumed.
Canadian Lance Stroll, in the other Williams, caught the Wall of Champions in the morning and punctured a tire. He is hoping to build on last year’s appearance at his hometown track, when as a rookie he earned the first points of his Formula One career.