Qualifying simulations leave Verstappen fastest

Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen inched ahead of Valtteri Bottas during Free Practice 2 for this weekend’s Formula 1 French Grand Prix.

There was just 0.008s between the fastest two at the end of the session, which saw qualifying runs set the order as the back half of proceedings was spent focused on race simulations.

Third best was Lewis Hamilton, with Fernando Alonso showing well for Alpine on home soil.

Conditions in Paul Ricard remained tricky as blustery conditions saw many run off the road, though none found the wall as Mick Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel had in the earlier running.

Bottas started the session with his Free Practice 1 form to set the early pace, banking a 1:32.880s inside the opening five minutes.

Using a set of the medium compound tyres, it saw the Finn go a full second clear of Verstappen in second place on the yellow-walled rubber.

It was a busy start with all but Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc heading out as the green light came on.

Local favourite, Esteban Ocon, jumped to third with his soft tyre run, recording a 1:33.821s to signal the beginning of qualifying simulations.

Having trailed Mercedes in the first half hour of the session, Verstappen went fastest with a 1:32.872s, 0.008s better than Bottas to that point.

Leclerc’s best left the pole man from the two most recent races fifth fastest, 0.6s away from the lead Red Bull to suggest Ferrari has dropped back into the midfield this weekend.

In fourth best was Fernando Alonso, the two-time world champion showing well alongside his Alpine team-mate Ocon.

By comparison with the day’s opening 60-minute session it was a comparatively quiet affair.

In race trim, Bottas appeared the strongest on track with average lap times suggesting an 0.8s advantage over Hamilton.

The pair have switched chassis for the weekend, a planned change according to the team though one which appeared to work well for only half the garage.

Even still, the Mercedes duo looked faster than Verstappen in third, but by only a whisker, with Perez at arms reach back in fourth.

Daniel Ricciardo ended the day 14th best, 1.2s away from the outright pace and 0.3s away from his McLaren team-mate Lando Norris.

A final 60-minute practice session follows on Saturday, which begins at 20:00 AEST.

Results: Formula 1 French Grand Prix, Free Practice 2

Pos Num Driver Team Tim Diff Laps
1 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING HONDA 1:32.872 21
2 77 Valtteri Bottas MERCEDES 1:32.880 +0.008s 27
3 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 1:33.125 +0.253s 23
4 14 Fernando Alonso ALPINE RENAULT 1:33.340 +0.468s 25
5 16 Charles Leclerc FERRARI 1:33.550 +0.678s 23
6 31 Esteban Ocon ALPINE RENAULT 1:33.685 +0.813s 23
7 10 Pierre Gasly ALPHATAURI HONDA 1:33.696 +0.824s 25
8 55 Carlos Sainz FERRARI 1:33.698 +0.826s 24
9 7 Kimi Räikkönen ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI 1:33.786 +0.914s 26
10 4 Lando Norris MCLAREN MERCEDES 1:33.822 +0.950s 24
11 99 Antonio Giovinazzi ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI 1:33.831 +0.959s 23
12 11 Sergio Perez RED BULL RACING HONDA 1:33.921 +1.049s 24
13 22 Yuki Tsunoda ALPHATAURI HONDA 1:33.955 +1.083s 25
14 3 Daniel Ricciardo MCLAREN MERCEDES 1:34.079 +1.207s 24
15 5 Sebastian Vettel ASTON MARTIN MERCEDES 1:34.447 +1.575s 25
16 18 Lance Stroll ASTON MARTIN MERCEDES 1:34.632 +1.760s 24
17 63 George Russell WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:35.266 +2.394s 25
18 6 Nicholas Latifi WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:35.331 +2.459s 25
19 47 Mick Schumacher HAAS FERRARI 1:35.512 +2.640s 24
20 9 Nikita Mazepin HAAS FERRARI 1:35.551 +2.679s 23

Join the discussion below in the Speedcafe.com comments section

Please note: Speedcafe.com reserves the right to remove any comment that does not follow the comment policy. For support, contact [email protected]