Ferrari tops Canadian Grand Prix practice after Lewis Hamilton hits wall

But if he finishes first Sunday, he'll match Michael Schumacher's record

MONTREAL — Charles Leclerc posted the fastest time in practice for the Canadian Grand Prix on Friday as Ferrari took advantage of some Mercedes misfortune with world champion Lewis Hamilton watching from the pits after clipping the wall.

Leclerc lapped the island circuit in the day's best time of 1 minute 12.177 seconds, 0.074 ahead of his teammate, four-times world champion Sebastian Vettel.

That provided Ferrari with a much-needed boost as it looks to revive its challenge to Mercedes in Canada.

Mercedes has dominated this season so far with Hamilton and Bottas winning all six races, crossing one-two in five of them.

Hamilton is 17 points clear of Bottas at the top of the standings with a fading Vettel 55 points adrift of the Briton.

With Hamilton, fastest in the morning session, on the sidelines, his Finnish teammate Valtteri Bottas was third quickest for Mercedes in the afternoon, followed by McLaren's Carlos Sainz and Kevin Magnussen for Haas.

It was a wild, dusty day on the island circuit with several cars brushing the walls, including Hamilton, bringing a premature end to the five-times world champion's day.

After dominating the opening practice, Mercedes, using an upgraded engine, was flexing its muscles again in the second until a rare mistake by Hamilton sent him into the wall and then the pits.

With an hour left in the session, Hamilton, pushing too hard coming through a chicane, clipped the barrier, puncturing the right rear tire.

After limping back to the garage, Hamilton offered a sheepish apology to his team, telling them: "Sorry about that."

Having sustained damage to the floor of his car, Hamilton did not reappear on the track.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen, who complained to his team during the morning session that the track was "insanely dirty," introduced himself to the infamous Wall of Champions in the second, slapping the barrier with his left front tire.

The Dutchman returned to the pits and finished the session well down in 13th, after setting the fourth-best time in the morning.

Any hopes of rival teams that Mercedes would experience a few hiccups transitioning to an upgraded power unit were quickly dispelled when Hamilton appeared on track for each session and quickly jumped to the top of the timing charts.

Since registering his first career win on the high-speed island circuit in 2007, Montreal has remained one of Hamilton's favorite circuits.

The Briton has won six times in Canada and if he can finish first on Sunday, he will equal Michael Schumacher's record of seven victories.

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