Fernando Alonso is expecting a closer battle from opposition outside the McLaren team in the Canadian Grand Prix, despite topping both free practice sessions at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

The double world champion headed McLaren team-mate - and biggest Monaco 'rival' - Lewis Hamilton in the opening 90-minute outing, before improving after lunch to head Ferrari's Felipe Massa by half a second. However, despite the sizeable advantage, Alonso insisted that the opening day conditions made accurate predictions of performance hard to gauge.

"It was a good start to our weekend at a challenging circuit, but I don't think we will dominate like we did at the last race in Monaco," the Spaniard claimed, "In the first session, we limited our running slightly as the track was very dirty and only used one set of tyres, but still emerged fastest. The second session was spent on tyre evaluation and also looking at the brakes. We have made some good progress so so far so good, but the track conditions here means that it's very hard to estimate where our competition is."

Rookie team-mate Hamilton was making his first appearance at the Montreal circuit, but acclimatised quickly and backed Alonso up in both sessions.

"Today was the first time I had the opportunity to drive at the Montreal circuit and I really enjoyed myself," the Briton revealed, "We had done a lot of work back in the UK with our simulation programme and I have watched a few of the past races here, but you can't beat the real thing. We worked on set-up, tyre evaluation and also looking at the brakes as this circuit is notoriously hard on the brakes, but there were no problems and it looks like we are in good shape."



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