NASCAR

Lewis Hamilton tops Canadian Grand Prix practice

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MONTREAL (AP)

Lewis Hamilton topped both Formula One practice sessions Friday at the Canadian Grand Prix.

The McLaren driver, the winner at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in 2007 and 2010, had a top lap of 1 minute, 15.564 seconds in the morning session, and turned a lap at 1:15.259 in the afternoon.

''It's a circuit I do enjoy,'' said Hamilton, whose best results this year are third-place finishes in the first three races. ''The crowd is incredible every time I come here.

''As soon as I leave the pits I see the crowd stand up and wave and I try to show them acknowledgment. It's been that way every time I've been here. They really do give me a great boost. I hope that continues.''

Fernando Alonso, the leader in driver standings, was second at 1:15.313, and Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa followed at 1:15.410. Red Bull star Sebastain Vettel was fourth at 1:15.531.

The teams will have one more practice Saturday morning before qualifying. The race is Sunday.

Hamilton is seeking his fourth pole at the track.

''I feel positive for the weekend,'' the 27-year-old Englishman said. ''I try not to come into weekends with confidence or anything like that. ''I come in as best prepared as I can possibly be and make sure my head is down and I just continue to improve with the car and the track.''

Hamilton will no doubt also wish to erase the memory of last year's Canadian Grand Prix, when he was bumped off the track and out of the race in the opening minutes by teammate Jenson Button, who went on to win a wild, rain-soaked the race.

Rain threatened again Friday, but held off just long enough to get the two sessions in before it came down in a deluge of thunder and lightning. Sun is forecast for qualifying and for the race Sunday.

Alonso said Ferrari spent the morning evaluating new tweaks to the car and the afternoon comparing performance with different fuel loads and the two tire compounds teams are allotted by Pirelli.

''Now we must prepare as much as well as possible for the weekend,'' Alonso said. ''The circuit is very similar to a street circuit, with the walls very close to what are normal roads. It therefore becomes very important to find the right reference points, especially in terms of braking points and how far one is from the walls, in order both to put together a quick lap and drive smoothly over a long distance.''

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