CLICK HERE for Canadian Grand Prix FP1 results

Lewis Hamilton shrugged off a spin to come out of the blocks fighting in first free practice for the Canadian Grand Prix, the defending champion comfortably quicker than title rival Nico Rosberg and a vast margin ahead of the chasing pack.

With the threat of rain looming later in the day, FP1 also began under leaden skies, but while the sun would eventually break through, relatively cool temperatures would make the little-used Circuit Gilles Villeneuve more slippery than usual in the early stages.

Related Articles

Indeed, several drivers would endure off-track moments, with a handful swapping ends, including Carlos Sainz at turn one, Valtteri Bottas at turn six and, more significantly, Hamilton at the turn ten hairpin.

Despite this, Hamilton quickly recovered his composure to improve his benchmark to a session-topping 1min 16.212secs lap, four tenths quicker than Monaco GP winner and Mercedes team-mate Rosberg.

Perhaps more ominously for Mercedes' rivals, however, a full 1.5secs would mark the gap back to third place, held by former Canadian Grand Prix podium winner Lotus' Romain Grosjean, while Nico Hulkenberg was also an unexpected front runner in the fourth place Force India, the pair making the most of their Mercedes power units to top the speed traps and climb the leaderboard

Sebastian Vettel headed up the Ferrari challenge in fifth place, albeit a sizeable 1.6secs off the pace, ahead of Felipe Massa in the leading Williams and Daniil Kvyat, who brought his Renault-powered Red Bull well into the top ten in seventh.

Pastor Maldonado added to Lotus' positive start to the day in eighth, while Fernando Alonso gave an encouraging hint of McLaren's form with the ninth best lap, ahead of Montreal newcomer Max Verstappen in tenth position.

Elsewhere, Kimi Raikkonen found himself 2.2secs adrift in 12th place, while last year's race winner Daniel Ricciardo was a lowly 14th having endured more than one off-track moment during the 90mins session.

Jenson Button, meanwhile, was six tenths down on team-mate Alonso having been hampered in the early stages after getting stuck in second gear on his first lap of the weekend.