Max Verstappen answered his critics in the best way possible on Friday, with the Red Bull driver setting the fastest times in both practice sessions in Canada.
The 20-year-old came out firing in a press conference ahead of the grand prix in Montreal, claiming he might "headbutt" those who continued to question his aggressive driving style. He has managed just one podium finish in a 2018 season littered with accidents, including a crash with his teammate Daniel Ricciardo in Baku.
However, this time Verstappen let his performance do the talking at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, clocking a best time of one minute, 13.302 seconds in the first session before going over a second quicker on his return to the track later in the day.
"Today was a good day, the car is working very well. We did not really change a lot initially and that's always a good sign and gives you hope," Verstappen said. "Mercedes was very quick, but I think we are not too far away. The tires worked well, we were quite fast and to see it in the long run, we can be even faster.
"The car did everything it should do, it started well straight away so I just followed the track. We are still lacking a bit of top speed, but we can make some improvements and we will see what we can do. But so far everything went well and I have a good feeling."
Ricciardo was third fastest in the second session despite issues with a power unit keeping him off the track for an extended period.
Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen was sandwiched in between the two Red Bulls, while Lewis Hamilton was fourth quickest in his Mercedes despite choosing not to go out on hypersoft tires. The Brit, who leads the world championship standings by 14 points, finished just ahead Sebastian Vettel – his nearest rival in the title race – prior to Saturday's qualifying session
FP2 was held up after Carlos Sainz Jr sent his Renault into the wall after exiting turn seven, bringing out the red flag.
Local favorite Lance Stroll did not enjoy a happy homecoming either; he suffered a puncture in FP1 and ended up a disappointing 19th in the second session, putting him just ahead of Williams colleague Sergey Sirotkin.