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What we learned from Friday at the French Grand Prix

What we learned from Friday at the French Grand Prix



What we learned from Friday at the French Grand Prix

What we learned from Friday at the French Grand Prix

Mercedes came away with one-two finishes in each of Friday's practice sessions ahead of the French Grand Prix, the Silver Arrows largely returning to form as had been expected at Circuit Paul Ricard. Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas topped a session apiece across the day.

In what was a largely positive day for Mercedes, Hamilton gave the team a brief scare when he ran off-track and rejoined in the path of Max Verstappen, who ended up going off himself.

The moment was tinged with irony, as the paddock awaited news of Ferrari's hearing with the FIA over Sebastian Vettel's similar moment in Canada.

On the track, Ferrari's efforts suggested they are back to sitting off the pace of Mercedes.

Normal service resumed

A running theme of the season has been Ferrari's struggles to get the Pirelli tyres at their best, while Mercedes seem to have cracked it, and the signs are that this weekend would be similar.

Mercedes dominate Ferrari, but Hamilton investigation looms : French GP FP2 ResultsRead more

Charles Leclerc in particular seemed to struggle with keeping his tyres alive, especially the soft compound.

The Monegasque was quicker than Vettel in FP2, but still half a second adrift of Bottas, who led the afternoon session.

Hamilton himself was four tenths down, although that was seemingly more down to do with his error, which came on his attempted flying lap.

Bottas will take confidence nevertheless, having seen Hamilton take the last three races to open up a 29-point lead in the standings.

McLaren make a noise

Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz ranked in the top 10 in both practice sessions, putting the papaya cars in hope of a strong qualifying.

Norris was just two tenths adrift of Vettel in FP2 in fifth place as Verstappen had his quali sim spoiled by Hamilton's off and Pierre Gasly seemed to struggle once again – spinning in FP1.

There is an upgraded Renault engine in Le Castellet, although it is in Daniel Ricciardo's car.

The Australian was over a second down on Norris in FP2, although his time matched team-mate Nico Hulkenberg, who is still using the older, less powerful unit, so perhaps Ricciardo has more time in hand, having qualified fourth in Montreal a fortnight ago.

Kubica problems laid bare

Robert Kubica's struggles have been well-documented this year – the Pole has qualified and finished the race behind team-mate George Russell in every race this year.

However, he also ran marginally slower than Nicholas Latifi, the Formula 2 driver in action again for Williams, having taken Kubica's car in Canada practice a fortnight ago.

On that occasion, Russell was able to lap much faster than the Canadian, but Kubica running slower could raise more doubts over his long-term prospects in the team.

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