Webber and Vettel friends again and setting the pace in Canada

Red Bull vow to ‘move on’ from crash but McLaren look to build on Istanbul win
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The Independent Online

As Red Bull have spent their time recently applying sticking plaster to wounds opened suddenly in Turkey, when Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel collided and threw away a likely 1-2, the two drivers have busily been insisting here that they are still friends and that the incident is behind them.

Well, it probably is: until the next time they each want the same bit of road. Given the performance of their Adrian Newey-designed car – which has taken pole position for all seven of the races held thus far this season and won three – that may not be long. The first corner here is so tight that it could easily be just after noon, local time, tomorrow.

"I'm cool, absolutely fine," drivers' championship leader Webber said, looking exactly that. "I'm totally over it and ready to go this weekend. I'm looking forward to getting back on the track."

Vettel, sporting his new unshaven look, said: "What happened, happened, so there's not much more to say. You can look at it from many different angles and you can't change it now, so looking back I wouldn't have done anything differently.

"What happened was bad for both of us and especially for the team because we gave a present to McLaren, but the most important thing is to move on.

"To be honest, F1 is not about yesterday, it's about tomorrow. I don't want to spend much time talking about what happened. It's important to understand what happened and that's why we met and talked about it."

That last bit is certainly true, as is the fact that despite horrible weather on Thursday and gloomy conditions for yesterday's practice, everyone is delighted to be back racing in North America. Walking the track on Thursday, former racer and Virgin team principal John Booth was so excited by it that he was moved to comment: "Of all the tracks we've been to this season, this is the one that makes me want to get back into a car."

Yesterday it was the two McLaren drivers – who had a little skirmish of their own in Turkey on their way to the team's second 1-2 of the season – who swapped fastest laps as teams dialled their cars into one of the more demanding circuits, which places a high premium on braking performance, stability, poise through tight chicanes and straightline speed, and less on the high levels of downforce that have been the Red Bull's strong suit thus far.

Hamilton scored his first grand prix win here in his 2007 rookie season but then blotted his copybook a year later by crashing into the back of Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari at the end of the pit lane. He had also repassed Button in Istanbul after the 2009 world champion had briefly edged ahead.

He said: "We don't have any team orders and of course we always want to support the team in getting the most points, but clearly both drivers always want to win. So if there is an opportunity to pass you take it."

This is one of those tracks, not just with that tight first corner but also with the last one which brings cars perilously close to the outer wall, where mistakes are easy to make. Vettel flirted with the concrete outrageously and at times looked ragged, as Button headed the morning times from Michael Schumacher, Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, leaving the Red Bull driver fifth. In the afternoon, Vettel was fastest, but the McLarens were doing race work. It's early days yet, but the prospects for another tight race look good.

Schumacher, though, has started to turn his attention towards next season already, in the belief that an eighth world title is out of reach.

The early fears that his comeback after three years in retirement was a mistake have slowly faded in recent grands prix, as he has displayed a steady improvement of late with Mercedes. Fourth-placed finishes in two of the last three races have proven Schumacher still has what it takes to compete at the highest level.

But after such a slow start to his return, Schumacher sits in ninth place in the drivers' standings, trailing championship leader Mark Webber by 59 points, and is already looking at 2011.

"When I started the season I was thinking about the championship – that was my aim and focus," he said. "But then at one point you understand your package is where it is and from there on you have to do a certain programme and process, and that's what we are going through.

"Although the year is still long [another 12 races remain] I don't think I'm really in a position to win the championship."

Friday Practice

First session

1 J Button (GB) McLaren 1min 18.127sec

2 M Schumacher (Ger) Mercedes 1:18.285

3 L Hamilton (GB) McLaren 1:18.352

4 N Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes 1:18.356

5 SVettel (Ger) Red Bull 1:18.549

6 R Kubica (Pol) Renault 1:18.662

7 F Alonso (Sp) Ferrari 1:18.726

8 V Liuzzi (Ita) Force India 1:19.097

9 N Huelkenberg (Ger) Williams 1:19.282

10 R Barrichello (Br) Williams 1:19.313

11 Adrian Sutil (Germany) Force India 1:19.373

12 F Massa (Br) Ferrari 1:19.511

13 V Petrov (Rus) Renault 1:19.549

14 MWebber (Australia) Red Bull 1:19.609

15 K Kobayashi (Japan) BMW Sauber 1:20.186

16 S Buemi (Swi) Toro Rosso 1:20.320

17 P De la Rosa (Sp) BMW Sauber 1:20.584

18 J Alguersuari (Sp) Toro Rosso 1:20.823

19 H Kovalainen (Finland) Lotus 1:21.869

20 K Chandhok (India) HRT 1:21.977

21 J Trulli (Ita) Lotus 1:22.543

22 B Senna (Br) HRT 1:22.701

23 T Glock (Germany) Virgin 1:22.713

N/C L Di Grassi (Br) Virgin

Second session

1 S Vettel (Ger) Red Bull 1 min 16.877sec

2 F Alonso (Sp) Ferrari 1:16.963

3 N Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes 1:17.151

4 MWebber (Aus) Red Bull 1:17.273

5 F Massa (Br) Ferrari 1:17.401

6 A Sutil (Ger) Force India 1:17.415

7 L Hamilton (GB) McLaren 1:17.522

8 R Kubica (Pol) Renault 1:17.529

9 M Schumacher (Ger) Mercedes 1:17.688

10 V Liuzzi (Ita) Force India 1:17.903

11 J Button (GB) McLaren 1:17.961

12 R Barrichello (Br) Williams 1:18.385

13 N Huelkenberg (Ger) Williams 1:18.447

14 V Petrov (Rus) Renault 1:18.582

15 P De la Rosa (Sp) BMW Sauber 1:18.658

16 K Kobayashi (Japan) BMW Sauber 1:19.142

17 S Buemi (Swi) Toro Rosso 1:19.168

18 J Alguersuari (Sp) Toro Rosso 1:19.274

19 H Kovalainen (Fin) Lotus 1:19.969

20 K Chandhok (India) HRT 1:20.879

21 B Senna (Br) HRT 1:21.097

22 J Trulli (It) Lotus 1:21.346

23 T Glock (Ger) Virgin 1:21.488

24 L Di Grassi (Br) Virgin 1:21.577

Qualifying: 6pm today

Grand Prix: 5pm tomorrow. TV: BBC1