Hamilton sets the pace at Paul Ricard

Hamilton sets the pace at Paul Ricard

Lewis Hamilton used an upgraded Mercedes power unit to power away from his rivals in second practice for the French Grand Prix, topping the timesheet, seventh tenths of a second clear of nearest rival Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull Racing.

Mercedes had been set to introduce an upgrade in Canada but held back the power unit for further tests, but today the Constructors’ champions confirmed that all six Mercedes’ powered cars will run this weekend with the new unit.

When the session’s qualifying simulations got into gear midway through the session, Ricciardo led the way on ultrasoft tyres. Hamilton, one of the last to bolt on the purple-banded Pirelli tyres, was about to attack that time when his out lap was interrupted by red flags.

The stoppage was caused by Sergio Perez whose Force India had shed its rear left wheel at Turn 7. The Mexican driver’s car was recovered and he later rejoined the action.

When the red flag period ended Hamilton went out again on ultrasofts and posted a lap of 1:32.539. That put him firmly ahead of Ricciardo, who held on to second place in the session.

That might not have been the case had Valtteri Bottas been able to fully exploit the ultrasofts. The Finn did run on the softest compound on offer this weekend prior to the red flag but after the stoppage he was unable to return to the track as Mercedes discovered a water leak on his car. He ended the session in P7.

Behind Ricciardo, Max Verstappen recovered from a long spell in the garage in the opening session to post the afternoon’s third quickest lap. The Dutchman recorded a lap of 1:33.271  to end the session just under three hundredths of a second behind his team-mate.

Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen was fourth quickest, setting a time of 1:33.426. He was the last man within a second of Hamilton’s benchmark, with the Finn’s team-mate Sebastian Vettel taking fifth 1.150s off the pace, though the German only did a single lap on ultrasofts before the red flag.

As with the morning session, outlier excepted, Haas’ Romain Grosjean was the best of the rest beyond the top three teams. The Frenchman finished just 0.010s behind Vettel as he enjoyed a good start to his home grand prix.

Fernando Alonso was eighth for McLaren 1.8s behind Hamilton, with Kevin Magnussen ninth ahead of home hope Pierre Gasly of Toro Rosso.

Elsewhere, Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson did not take part in the session due to damage to his car sustained in a heavy crash in the morning session.

2018 Formula 1 French Grand Prix – Free Practice 2
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 27 1:32.539
2 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 31 1:33.243 0.704
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 24 1:33.271 0.732
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 29 1:33.426 0.887
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 35 1:33.689 1.150
6 Romain Grosjean Haas 30 1:33.699 1.160
7 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 7 1:34.156 1.617
8 Fernando Alonso McLaren 24 1:34.400 1.861
9 Kevin Magnussen Haas 33 1:34.457 1.918
10 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 35 1:34.535 1.996
11 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 30 1:35.067 2.528
12 Carlos Sainz Jr. Renault 33 1:35.086 2.547
13 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 28 1:35.172 2.633
14 Charles Leclerc Sauber 33 1:35.583 3.044
15 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 31 1:35.697 3.158
16 Esteban Ocon Force India 25 1:35.705
17 Lance Stroll Williams 34 1:35.936
18 Sergey Sirotkin Williams 35 1:35.970 

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