French Grand Prix – Max Verstappen finished the second free practice session ahead of the Mercedes cars but only by a few thousandths.
Verstappen’s 1:32.872 came just before drivers started on their long-run practice and put him 0.008 seconds ahead of the quickest man in FP1 and early FP2 pace-setter, Valtteri Bottas. However Bottas’ best time was set on the medium tyre compared to the Dutchman’s which was done on the softs.
As the Finn did during the morning, Verstappen fell foul of the yellow kerbs and lost part of his front wing which led to a brief Virtual Safety Car, the only of the session, to allow a marshal to retrieve the piece of carbon fibre. Red Bull, like Mercedes earlier, contacted Michael Masi about the kerbs and the amount of damage they can cause. While the Race Director said the kerbs are the same as they were in 2019, and that people had been asking for physical track limits, but did say he would review them this evening.
Lewis Hamilton wasn’t overly happy with his car, saying that something didn’t feel right with it during the practice hour, and his best time saw him 0.253 seconds off the top of the timesheet. Fernando Alonso slotted into fourth with a very strong 1:33.340 lap in his Alpine.
It was a better session for Ferrari with cars in the top ten, Charles Leclerc in fifth 0.678 seconds behind Verstappen while Carlos Sainz was a tenth and a half slower in eighth. The two Frenchmen in the field separated the Ferraris, Esteban Ocon’s 1:33.685 leaving him sixth for Alpine with AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly eleven hundredths off in seventh.
Alfa Romeo finished in ninth with a lap from Kimi Raikkonen, the Finn putting in a 1:33.786, less than a second behind the Red Bull while Lando Norris rounded out the top ten for McLaren. After ending FP1 in fourth, Sergio Perez’s best during the afternoon was just over a second off and only enough to see him twelfth.