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Verstappen fights back as Red Bull echo Mercedes' FIA complaints

Verstappen fights back as Red Bull echo Mercedes' FIA complaints

F1 News

Verstappen fights back as Red Bull echo Mercedes' FIA complaints

Verstappen fights back as Red Bull echo Mercedes' FIA complaints

Max Verstappen hit back for Red Bull by topping second practice for the French Grand Prix by just 0.008secs from Valtteri Bottas.

Bottas had topped the morning session and was a second faster than the Dutchman on the early medium-tyre runs, but was unable to improve on his soft-tyre run.

Mercedes, however, will be content with the performance shown on a 'normal' track layout after struggling on the Monaco and Azerbaijan street circuits.

The track temperature peaked at 48.3 degrees centigrade but was paired with the high 'Mistral' wind, which lends its name to the long back straight at Paul Ricard, which made conditions tricky for the drivers.

Bottas was the first of the frontrunners to switch to the soft tyres but the high temperatures clearly affected his grip in the final sector, ending slower than his lap on the medium tyres.

As the temperatures cooled, however, Verstappen was able to hook up both the first and last sectors to edge ahead of Bottas with a one minute 32.872secs.

Hamilton was two-tenths adrift having complained that there was "something not right with the car" during his qualifying simulation.

Verstappen's running was interrupted early on as he fell foul of the aggressive kerbs lining the exit of turn two, losing part of his front wing early in the session.

Unlike Mercedes, who sent a combative message to the FIA when Bottas damaged his car over the kerbs in FP1, Red Bull sporting director Jonathan Wheatley said: "We are a bit short on those bits of carbon, it would be good if we could have it back."

Race director Michael Masi responded: "No problem, we will get that back to you at the end of the session."

However, at the end of the session, the team complained that the penalty was too harsh in terms of damage for running not too far wide, effectively echoing Mercedes' gripes.

Fernando Alonso impressed to finish 0.468secs away from Verstappen in fourth, with team-mate Esteban Ocon, fresh from signing a new three-year deal with Alpine, sandwiching Ferrari's Charles Leclerc.

AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly was just 0.002secs faster than Carlos Sainz, with Kimi Raikkonen ninth for Alfa Romeo and Lando Norris in 10th, two-and-a-half tenths faster than McLaren team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, who finished 14th.

Azerbaijan Grand Prix winner Sergio Perez finished only 12th, although was blocked on his flying lap by Nikita Mazepin's Haas, which propped up the field 2.679secs off the fastest time.

Aston Martin finished 15th and 16th on medium tyres, whilst George Russell returned to the cockpit to lead team-mate Nicholas Latifi having made way for Roy Nissany in FP1.

French Grand Prix second practice times

1. Max Verstappen [Red Bull] 1:32.872

2. Valtteri Bottas [Mercedes] +0.008

3. Lewis Hamilton [Mercedes] +0.253

4. Fernando Alonso [Alpine] +0.468

5. Charles Leclerc [Ferrari] +0.678

6. Esteban Ocon [Alpine] +0.813

7. Pierre Gasly [AlphaTauri] +0.824

8. Carlos Sainz [Ferrari] +0.826

9. Kimi Raikkonen [Alfa Romeo] +0.914

10. Lando Norris [McLaren] +0.950

11. Antonio Giovinazzi [Alfa Romeo] +0.959

12. Sergio Perez [Red Bull] +1.049

13. Yuki Tsunoda [AlphaTauri] +1.083

14. Daniel Ricciardo [McLaren] +1.207

15. Sebastian Vettel [Aston Martin] +1.575

16. Lance Stroll [Aston Martin] +1.760

17. George Russell [Williams] +2.394

18. Nicholas Latifi [Williams] +2.459

19. Mick Schumacher [Haas] +2.640

20. Nikita Mazepin [Haas] +2.679

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