It was a long wait before we saw any cars come out onto the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
for final practice for the Canadian Grand Prix
on Saturday morning, but for once it wasn't the teams playing mind games about not wanting to be first out on track.
Instead, the session was delayed by a full half an hour while extensive repairs were made to the Armco barrier at turn 3, which had received a heavy hit during an earlier support race. With regulations requiring a full two hours between the end of practice and the start of qualifying, and with no one wishing to upset the TV companies by delaying the latter, the session was eventually shorted to just 30 minutes when it finally got underway.
Conditions were less than ideal out on the track, after overnight rain and a persistent grey murk left occasional patches of light rain sweeping over the circuit. The track quickly dried up once the cars got out and started to make high-speed runs, but it was still not exactly the run-in to qualifying that the teams wanted especially as they were now starting to worry about preserving their rain and intermediate tyres for Sunday in case the forecasts of showers for race day proved accurate.
Caterham's Giedo van der Garde was the first man to post a time of 1:30.873s but almost immediately the times tumbled in large chunks - just a minute later and McLaren's Sergio Perez took almost three seconds out of that initial benchmark. Many of the top runners like Ferrari, Red Bull
and Mercedes opted to stay in the garage for the time being, waiting for the conditions to improve and for the other car to establish a dry line around the course.
Even so, it wasn't until seven minutes before the end of the session that the drivers felt confident enough to start putting on slick tyres, with Perez opting for the medium compound tyres while the majority of other drivers opting for the supersoft, as conserving sets of tyres for qualifying and the race was no longer an issue given the inclement weather so far in Montreal this weekend.
Ferrari's Felipe Massa
threw down the gauntlet with a lap of 1:22.482s with three minutes to go and all 22 drivers finally out in action. Pastor Maldonado
took over at the top for Williams
with a time of 1:21.035s demonstrating the rapidly improving conditions now that the last of the light drizzle had abated, but Massa recaptured the top spot with a time of 1:19.750s completed after the chequered flag only to be demoted all the way back to eighth place as the rest of the field completed their final runs behind him.
In the end it was Mark Webber
left with the top time of 1:17.895s, a third of a second ahead of Force India's Adrian Sutil
with Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel, Nico Rosberg
and Paul di Resta all finishing ahead of Massa by the finish.
There were a flurry of minor incidents, spins and run-offs in the final minutes as the drivers pushed to the limit of the still edgy conditions, and in some cases beyond; but there were no serious issues for any of the drivers heading into qualifying.Full FP3 times are available.