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Mercedes controls practice in France

Mat Coch

Saturday 22nd June, 2019 - 1:08am

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Valtteri Bottas

Mercedes ended the opening day’s running at Paul Ricard in control ahead of Sunday’s Formula 1 French Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas were almost inseparable in the opening session before the pair swapped positions in the day’s second session.

Third fastest on both occasions was Charles Leclerc, the Ferrari driver six tenths slower than Bottas in the afternoon and two tenths slower than Hamilton.

That deficit came despite the Ferrari driver using the fastest soft compound tyres, highlighting the both single lap and long run pace advantage Mercedes appears to hold.

Equally telling was the gap between Leclerc and the lead Mercedes, which increased by almost double from Practice 1.

Hot and blustery conditions saw a number of drivers run wide, though with vast tarmac runoff areas none proved serious.

The high temperatures made it difficult for drivers to get their tyres working, leading to graining on a track that evolved quickly throughout the day.

Set-up work therefore proved a constantly moving target as the tarmac rubbered in, though it was the heat more than anything that left drivers struggling for grip.

Bottas’ fastest time in Practice 2 was almost two seconds faster than Hamilton had done in the morning, with the remainder of the field improving by similar margins.

Max Verstappen was fourth fastest in the morning session, slipping to sixth as Sebastian Vettel and Lando Norris improved.

McLaren showed promising pace in both sessions, Norris starting the day seventh fastest before climbing to sixth in the second session.

His pace was backed up by that of team-mate Carlos Sainz, who was seventh fastest in Practice 2 having been eighth earlier in the day.

Their pace came as something as a surprise, with neither driver expecting their car to especially suit the Paul Ricard circuit.

Daniel Ricciardo is set to enjoy an up-rated Renault engine this weekend, the Australian inside the top 10 and two tenths up on his team-mate Nico Hulkenberg after Practice 1.

The pair then both dropped behind Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo) and Kevin Magnussen (Haas), who filled the bottom end of the 10, Ricciardo 12th and Hulkenberg 14th.

An incident midway through the second session saw Hamilton slew off track, clobbering a kerb and bollard before gathering his Mercedes back up and rejoining the circuit.

Though the Turn 4 slide was innocent in of itself, as he rejoined Verstappen arrived on the scene.

The Dutchman narrowly missed Hamilton as he swept into the apex, catching a snap of oversteer as a result of having to run wide around the slow Mercedes.

Despite there being no contact or harm done, the incident nonetheless caught the attentions of the stewards, who published their intentions to investigate post-session.

Practice continues on Saturday with final practice ahead of qualifying, which is scheduled to commence at 2300 AEST.

Result: Formula 1 French Grand Prix, Practice 2

Pos Num Driver Team Time Diff
1 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:30.937
2 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:31.361 +0.424s
3 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:31.586 +0.649s
4 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:31.665 +0.728s
5 4 Lando Norris McLaren Renault 1:31.882 +0.945s
6 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Honda 1:32.049 +1.112s
7 55 Carlos Sainz McLaren Renault 1:32.432 +1.495s
8 10 Pierre Gasly Red Bull Honda 1:32.448 +1.511s
9 7 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo Ferrari 1:32.677 +1.740s
10 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:32.789 +1.852s
11 99 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Ferrari 1:32.973 +2.036s
12 3 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:33.020 +2.083s
13 23 Alexander Albon Toro Rosso Honda 1:33.023 +2.086s
14 27 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:33.081 +2.144s
15 26 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso Honda 1:33.254 +2.317s
16 11 Sergio Perez Racing Point Mercedes 1:33.300 +2.363s
17 8 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:33.591 +2.654s
18 18 Lance Stroll Racing Point Mercedes 1:33.884 +2.947s
19 63 George Russell Williams Mercedes 1:34.614 +3.677s
20 88 Robert Kubica Williams Mercedes 1:35.195 +4.258s

Result: Formula 1 French Grand Prix, Practice 1

Pos Num Driver Team Time Diff
1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:32.738
2 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:32.807 +0.069s
3 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:33.111 +0.373s
4 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Honda 1:33.618 +0.880s
5 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:33.790 +1.052s
6 10 Pierre Gasly Red Bull Honda 1:34.091 +1.353s
7 4 Lando Norris McLaren Renault 1:34.110 +1.372s
8 55 Carlos Sainz McLaren Renault 1:34.261 +1.523s
9 3 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:34.540 +1.802s
10 23 Alexander Albon Toro Rosso Honda 1:34.804 +2.066s
11 11 Sergio Perez Racing Point Mercedes 1:34.809 +2.071s
12 27 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:34.810 +2.072s
13 18 Lance Stroll Racing Point Mercedes 1:35.063 +2.325s
14 26 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso Honda 1:35.326 +2.588s
15 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:35.410 +2.672s
16 7 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo Ferrari 1:35.522 +2.784s
17 99 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Ferrari 1:36.102 +3.364s
18 40 Nicholas Latifi Williams Mercedes 1:37.147 +4.409s
19 88 Robert Kubica Williams Mercedes 1:37.172 +4.434s
20 8 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:37.620 +4.882s

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