F1 championship leader Max Verstappen continued his strong form by setting substantial benchmarks at the Canadian GP Practice sessions.

The Driver standings leader was fastest in both sessions at the island Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, setting a time of 1:15.158 seconds in a sunny first and 1:14.127 in the second that ended just before showers.

Carlos Sainz of Ferrari was second in the opening session, lapping 0.246 slower than the Dutch before his teammate Charles Leclerc pushed him down to third in the later hour.

Leclerc would have to do well in the qualifying to stand any chance of cutting Verstappen’s lead after getting a 10-place grid penalty for having a number of power unit components replaced.

The governing FIA said Ferrari had fitted a new control electronics to the car in second practice, one more than his allowance for the season.

Fernando Alonso finished a surprise third in the first session before dropping down to fifth for Alpine with Sebastian Vettel fourth in the second session.

Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez ended the second practice session 11th, a steep drop from 4th during the first session.

Mercedes’ seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton was eighth in session one and 13th in the latter while referring to his car as undrivable while his teammate George Russell was sixth and seventh and also complained of the car’s “brutal” stiffness.

The Canadian Grand Prix is being held for the first time in three years after being canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Verstappen leads the standings having won four of the last five races and leads Perez by 21 points, with Leclerc third and a further 13 behind.

Top 10 after Canadian GP Practice 2:

Max Verstappen.

Charles Leclerc

Carlos Sainz

Sebastian Vettel

Fernando Alonso

Pierre Gasly

Geroge Russell

Lando Norris

Daniel Riccardo

Esteban Ocon