French Grand Prix – Lewis Hamilton lead a Mercedes one-two in a difficult opening practice session at the Paul Ricard Circuit.
In a session littered with driving errors in windy conditions in the South of France, Mercedes were able to set the pace, with Hamilton’s time of 1:32.231 leading team-mate Valtteri Bottas by just over one tenth of a second.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo finished third fastest, three tenths down on Hamilton’s time.
Fourth fastest was Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, several tenths down, but with drivers and teams familiarising themselves with the new circuit, the session results could be taken with a pinch of salt.
The second Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel was fifth fastest, ahead of Haas’ Romain Grosjean and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly and Force India’s Sergio Perez were the fastest runners to set their best times on the super soft tyre, with Haas’ Kevin Magnussen completing the top ten with an ultrasoft tyre lap time.
A gusty opening day of the French Grand Prix weekend ensured that it was a difficult opening session for all runners.
The honour of making the first error of the weekend went to Brendon Hartley. The Toro Rosso driver took too much kerb and lost the rear-end of the car part-way through turn six. However, he managed to keep the car out of the barrier and complete his run.
Over the course of the session, he was joined by McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, with drivers seemingly caught out by the tail wind.
Vandoorne was involved in a near-miss with Hamilton in the early stages of the session. Seemingly backed up by traffic, the Belgian was approaching the turn eight/nine chicane very slowly and Hamilton – on a fast lap – had to take evasive action and cut across the chicane.
There were mistakes for the Sauber drivers too; Marcus Ericsson and Charles Leclerc spun at turns fourteen and one respectively, both avoiding damage.
It was Ericsson who caused the first red flag of the weekend; the Swede lost the rear of his car part-way through turn six and sent his Sauber into the barrier.
He walked away from the crash but the session was red-flagged to clear the car, which caught fire after the impact.
To view the full results of the session, click here.