Lewis Hamilton finally got one over on team-mate Fernando Alonso in final practice ahead of this afternoon's qualifying session for the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal, but the latter nevertheless threw down the gauntlet to the young Brit by managing third place despite only completing a single flying lap.

Following overnight rain, a number of drivers chose to go out straightaway do conduct an exploratory lap, and it was Scuderia Toro Rosso's Vitantonio Liuzzi who set the first true time - a high 1min 22secs - almost a quarter of the way through the session. The Toyotas were similarly out early, keen to discover whether they had managed to resolve the suspension woes that had so badly blighted their Friday practice, and before long both Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli had shuffled Liuzzi down to third.

Rubens Barrichello and Scott Speed were also early birds, while moments later Trulli would be the first driver to lock up and go straight on into turn one. He would certainly not be the last.

Kimi Raikkonen was the first of the 'grandees' to lay down a marker, by shooting to the top of the timesheets 22 minutes in. He followed that, however, by replicating Trulli's move and going straight ahead into turn one, and shortly afterwards he was deposed from the top spot by first an inspired Nico Rosberg, then Mark Webber and finally team-mate Felipe Massa.

With McLaren star Hamilton also entering the fray shortly before half distance, battle was well and truly rejoined, as the Briton and both Ferrari aces set about squabbling over the fastest time. Webber, Rosberg, Renault ace Giancarlo Fisichella and BMW-Sauber's Robert Kubica were next up, albeit all more than a second shy of the leading pace, while reigning double world champion Alonso waited patiently in his garage, no doubt feeling confident having thoroughly dominated proceedings over the opening day.

The Toyotas were still struggling with both repeatedly exploring the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve's verdant scenery, although Trulli shot up to fourth place with a determined effort as Hamilton got rather out-of-shape through the final two turns and failed to improve on his time.

Heikki Kovalainen's rotten luck over the weekend continued when his engine went bang. Worse still, as the Finn toured back to the pits, plumes of smoke pouring out of the rear, oil was laid down on the circuit along the back straight, very nearly catching out Alonso on his first flying lap of the day and bringing out the red flags with 25 minutes to go.

There was a lengthy delay as sand went down to clear the track up, and when the session finally resumed with just under ten minutes remaining the cars took to the circuit almost as one - and with Alonso still to set a representative lap time.

Nick Heidfeld's first effort vaulted him up the order into ninth place - with the German then performing the seemingly obligatory grass-cutting manoeuvre at turn one immediately afterwards - while Jenson Button was also on the move up to fifth.

Alonso, meanwhile, was really on it, and though he lost some time in the final sector his opening effort was nevertheless enough to steal the top spot. Team-mate Hamilton was having none of it, however, grabbing it back again just seconds later with a sterling effort that saw the reigning GP2 champion go four tenths clear.

Kubica and Sato were also impressive in launching themselves up into the top six with just minutes to go, while Raikkonen pushed the hitherto dominant Alonso back down to third by the scant margin of five thousandths of a second.

A fine late effort from Rosberg saw the Williams pilot take fifth place, with Webber following seconds later to pinch sixth. Massa, meanwhile, went off the circuit again as the Ferrari drivers continued to overstretch themselves in a vain effort to match McLaren's pace, particularly through the final sector.

A smooth last-minute effort from Raikkonen secured the Finn second place, though it was still almost four tenths adrift off Hamilton and only a fraction ahead of Alonso, with Massa ending up fourth, Sato a superb fifth less than eight tenths shy of the pace and Rosberg a strong sixth.

Webber wound up seventh ahead of Barrichello - again giving Honda hope of a significantly improved qualifying performance - with David Coulthard vaulting his RB3 up to ninth from plum last right at the close, despite fairly hammering the kerbs through the final chicane, and fellow Brit Anthony Davidson making it two Super Aguris in the top ten just behind.

Fisichella finished the session eleventh, in front of Jenson Button, Kubica, Trulli, Speed, Schumacher, Liuzzi, Adrian Sutil, a distinctly off-colour Heidfeld, Alex Wurz, the embattled Kovalainen and Christijan Albers.

To see the Saturday practice times in full, Click Here



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