Valtteri Bottas maintained Mercedes’ hold on top spot of the timesheets in free practice for the French Grand Prix, with the Finn beating team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who went quickest in the morning session, by more than four tenths of a second.
Bottas, who goes into the weekend second in the Drivers’ standings, set the pace early in the second session on medium compound tyres and following a move to softs for a performance run he lowered the benchmark to 1:30.937.
Hamilton might have been expected to challenge that time but the champion missed out on improving his early session best when he made a mistake during his performance run.
The Briton lost control of the rear of his car in Turn 3 and went wide through the corner. Recovering, he rejoined before Turn 5 just as Max Versrtappen arrived at the corner. The Red Bull driver took the turn but ran wide on exit. The FIA stewards announced that the incident would be investigated after the session.
Hamilton’s medium tyre time from early in the session was still good enough for him to hold onto P2 on the timesheets until the end of the session and he finished 0.225s ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc who mirrored his placing from the morning session. The Monegasque driver edged team-mate Sebastian Vettel out to fourth place by the slim margin of eight hundredths of a second.
After taking seventh and eighth places in the morning session McLaren continued its good start to the weekend as Lando Norris took fifth place in the afternoon, 0.945s behind Bottas but almost seven hundredths of a second ahead of Verstappen. The Dutch driver missed out on his initial performance run due to the Hamilton incident and then made a mistake on a second attempt.
Carlos Sainz was seventh in the second McLaren, almost four tenths behind Verstappen but 0.016s ahead of the second Red Bull of Pierre Gasly.
Behind the Frenchman, ninth place went to Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Räikkönen with Kevin Magnussen of Haas tenth on a time 1.852s behind Bottas.
2019 Formula One French Grand Prix – Free Practice 2
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 34 1:30.937
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 25 1:31.361 0.424
3 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 31 1:31.586 0.649
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 32 1:31.665 0.728
5 Lando Norris McLaren 31 1:31.882 0.945
6 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 29 1:32.049 1.112
7 Carlos Sainz McLaren 27 1:32.432 1.495
8 Pierre Gasly Red Bull Racing 29 1:32.448 1.511
9 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Racing 34 1:32.677 1.740
10 Kevin Magnussen Haas 30 1:32.789 1.852
11 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing 34 1:32.973 2.036
12 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 34 1:33.020 2.083
13 Alex Albon Toro Rosso 35 1:33.023 2.086
14 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 32 1:33.081 2.144
15 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 37 1:33.254 2.317
16 Sergio Perez Racing Point 30 1:33.300 2.363
17 Romain Grosjean Haas 27 1:33.591 2.654
18 Lance Stroll Racing Point 32 1:33.884 2.947
19 George Russell Williams 33 1:34.614 3.677
20 Robert Kubica Williams 32 1:35.195 4.258
Lewis Hamilton beat team-mate Valtteri Bottas to the top of the timesheet at the Circuit Paul Ricard as Mercedes set the pace in the first practice session for this weekend’s French Grand Prix. FIA Formula One World Championship leader Hamilton took P1 more than three tenths of a second over third-placed Charles Leclerc of Ferrari.
Apart from brief spells when rivals bolted on new tyre before them, the Mercedes pair largely monopolised the top two spots from early in the session. Hamilton and Bottas traded fastest time as they worked their way into the weekend's running and began to explore the grip levels of a circuit where much re-surfacing has been done over recent months.
Hamilton eventually worked his way down to a best lap of 1:32.738. Bottas couldn’t top that and settled for P2, 0.069s off his team-mate.
Ferrari were left trailing their title rivals by a margin until late in the session when Charles Leclerc rose up the order to claim third place 0.373s behind Hamilton. He also managed to edge out Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen, with the Dutchman finishing fourth in the session, half a second behind the lead Ferrari.
Sebastian Vettel ended the 90-minute session in fifth place after spending much of the early part of the session evaluating upgrades and like his team-mate he only made significant improvements late in the running, eventually posting a best time of 1:33.790 to finish a full second behind Hamilton.
Sixth place was taken by local favourite Pierre Gasly. The Frenchman finished a little under halfg a second off Red Bull team-mate and as he pushed the limits of grip he also had a spin during the session in Turn 3.
Gasly was pushed hard in the session by McLaren’s Lando Norris, with the rookie taking P7 just under two-hundredths off a second behind the French driver.
Norris also beat team-mate Carlos Sainz by 1500ths of a second with the Spaniard almost three tenths clear of ninth-placed Daniel Ricciardo of home team Renault. The top ten order was completed by Toro Rosso’s Alex Albon who was two seconds off the pace set by Hamilton.
2019 FIA Formula One French Grand Prix – Free Practice 1
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 21 1:32.738
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 20 1:32.807 0.069
3 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 21 1:33.111 0.373
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 20 1:33.618 0.880
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 22 1:33.790 1.052
6 Pierre Gasly Red Bull Racing 20 1:34.091 1.353
7 Lando Norris McLaren 23 1:34.110 1.372
8 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren 26 1:34.261 1.523
9 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 18 1:34.540 1.802
10 Alex Albon Scuderia Toro Rosso 25 1:34.804 2.066
11 Sergio Perez Racing Point 21 1:34.809 2.071
12 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 25 1:34.810 2.072
13 Lance Stroll Racing Point 22 1:35.063 2.325
14 Daniil Kvyat Scuderia Toro Rosso 24 1:35.326 2.588
15 Kevin Magnussen Haas 19 1:35.410 2.672
16 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo 22 1:35.522 2.784
17 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 22 1:36.102 3.364
18 Nicholas Latifi Williams 25 1:37.147 4.409
19 Robert Kubica Williams 27 1:37.172 4.434
20 Romain Grosjean Haas 9 1:37.620 4.882