French Grand Prix – Mercedes enjoyed another 1-2 in opening practice at Paul Ricard, with Lewis Hamilton leading Valtteri Bottas.
The two Mercedes drivers were untouchable at the top of the times in France as opening practice got underway. Warm and sunny conditions were the name of the game, as Lewis Hamilton used the Soft tyre compound to put in a 1:32.738 to pip Bottas by just 0.069 seconds on the same compound.
Ferrari were, unsurprisingly, the closest competitor as Charles Leclerc finished P3 and 0.373 behind the two Mercs on the same Soft compound. Ferrari spent their session evaluating different aerodynamic configurations, including a new floor on Leclerc’s car. This seemed to work out in Leclerc’s favour, as he finished almost 0.7 clear of Sebastian Vettel – the German driver down in P5.
The two Ferraris were split by the Red Bull by Max Verstappen, while Pierre Gasly slotted into P6.
McLaren underlined their apparent resurgence by convincingly finishing next with P7 & P8 and behind the top three teams. Lando Norris was P7, just 0.021 behind Gasly’s Red Bull and less than two tenth ahead of Carlos Sainz’ MCL34.
Sporting a new power unit for this weekend, Daniel Ricciardo was P9 for Renault, with Alex Albon in P10 in the Toro Rosso.
Sergio Perez was P11 for Racing Point, with Nico Hulkenberg P12 in the second Renault. Lance Stroll was P13 in the other Racing Point, while Daniil Kvyat was P14 despite running the new specification Honda power unit.
Kevin Magnussen was P15 for Haas, while there was little sign of resurgence for Alfa Romeo. Running an updated C38, Kimi Raikkonen was P16 and just ahead of Antonio Giovinazzi.
Running in George Russell’s car for FP1, Nicholas Latifi finished P18 for Williams and 4.4 seconds from the front. However, he finished 0.025 clear of Robert Kubica in the other FW34.
Romain Grosjean was P20 for Haas after a water leak prevented him from taking meaningful part in the session.