MONTREAL, June 8 (Reuters) - Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, under pressure to clean up his act after a string of crashes and costly errors, kept his nose clean on Friday to clock the fastest time in opening practice for the Canadian Grand Prix.
Verstappen, who started from the rear of grid at the Monaco Grand Prix after a crash in qualifying, offered the promise of something much better in Montreal, taking full advantage of an upgraded power unit to clock a polished one minute, 13.302 seconds around the 2.7 mile (4.34 km) sun-splashed Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, chasing a record equalling seventh Canadian Grand Prix win, once again figured near the top of the time sheets, just .088 seconds behind the Dutchman but in front of the other Red Bull of Monaco winner Australian Daniel Ricciardo.
German former world champion Sebastian Vettel was fourth quickest as Ferrari also used opening practice to break in their upgraded engine.
Finland’s Valtteri Bottas was fifth best in a Mercedes that will run with an old power unit that will be on its seventh race.
Another Finn, Kimi Raikkonen, was sixth for Ferrari in front of McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, who is entered in his landmark 300th Grand Prix.
The home crowd had very little to get excited about as Williams’ Lance Stroll, who collected his first points at the Canadian Grand Prix last year, continued his struggles, posting only the 18th best effort.
Right behind Stroll was fellow Canadian Nicholas Latifi, whose father recently purchased a 10 percent stake in McLaren.
He got his first taste of what it is like to take part in a Grand Prix weekend, sitting in for Sergio Perez in the Force India for the first practice.
The 22-year-old, who is currently racing in the Formula 2 Championship, was 19th fastest ahead of only Nico Hulkenberg, who interrupted the session for nearly 15 minutes when his Renault coasted to a stop with suspected gearbox problems. (Editing by Toby Davis)