Bottas Leads Hamilton By 0.041 Seconds in Final French Grand Prix Practice

by Aaron Gillard
Bottas - Mercedes - F1 France

Mercedes AMG Motorsport lead the way one again with Valtteri Bottas posting the fastest time ahead of Lewis Hamilton in final practice for the French Grand Prix, only separated by 0.041 seconds between the two drivers.

Bottas produced a 1:30.159 to go on top of the standings, resuming his quick pace he displayed in Friday’s Free Practice 2 that saw the Finnish driver top the standings. Hamilton remained fast but was short with his 1:30.

The two Scuderia Ferrari drivers were less than half a second short from Mercedes, with Charles Leclerc ahead of team-mate Sebastian Vettel in the final session before qualifying.

Both Red Bull Racing cars were fifth and sixth, but were off the pace as Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly were over 1.3 seconds off Bottas’ time, with Lando Norris in the McLaren F1 only two tenths away from the Red Bull pair.

The final practice session began with the McLaren cars heading out on track first, but it was the Toro Rosso Honda of Daniil Kvyat who set the first initial lap time with a 1:33.398.

The Russian improved into a 1:32.744 to continue being the fastest driver on track as the session reached the 15 minute mark, until Daniel Ricciardo jumped past the Toro Rosso with a 1:32.690 in his Renault R.S.19.

The front runners headed out on track with 40 minutes remaining as Bottas continued his strong pace with a 1:31.383 ahead Leclerc, who was short by 0.083 seconds. Hamilton and Vettel followed behind the two drivers in third and fourth. Williams Racing‘s George Russell suffered a mechanical related issue that saw the Brit drive the track slowly on his way back to the pits.

By the halfway stage, Bottas improved his time to break into the 1:30s with a 1:30.853 ahead of team-mate Hamilton, Leclerc, Vettel and Verstappen, who nearly lost control of his Red Bull car at the exit of Turn 6 whilst on a hotlap.

Mercedes in the final third of the session headed out on track early to complete their final qualifying practice runs, but saw mistakes from both Hamilton and Bottas in their first laps, leaving them to abort their lap. In their second attempt, Hamilton fell short by 0.041 seconds as the Ferrari improve their pace, but not enough to overhaul both Mercedes cars.

The Red Bull followed behind with Verstappen ahead of Gasly whilst McLaren’s resume their strong practice pace from Friday with Norris in seventh and Sainz in ninth. Ricciardo split the two drivers.

The session ended with Bottas and Hamilton continuing Mercedes’ strong pace shown from Friday, as they pull nearly half a second clear from Ferrari. Red Bull fall short by over a second with McLaren following behind their two drivers going into Qualifying.

177Valtteri BottasFINMercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport1:30.159
244Lewis HamiltonGBRMercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport+0.041
316Charles LeclercMONScuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow+0.446
45Sebastian VettelGERScuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow+0.474
533Max VerstappenNEDAston Martin Red Bull Racing+1.379
610Pierre GaslyFRAAston Martin Red Bull Racing+1.440
74Lando NorrisGBRMcLaren F1 Team+1.495
83Daniel RicciardoAUSRenault F1 Team+1.643
955Carlos Sainz Jr.ESPMcLaren F1 Team+1.728
107Kimi RäikkönenFINAlfa Romeo Racing+1.784
1127Nico HülkenbergGERRenault F1 Team+1.864
1299Antonio GiovinazziITAAlfa Romeo Racing+2.012
1323Alexander AlbonTHARed Bull Toro Rosso Honda+2.019
148Romain GrosjeanFRARich Energy Haas F1 Team+2.226
1520Kevin MagnussenDENRich Energy Haas F1 Team+2.241
1611Sergio PérezMEXSportPesa Racing Point F1 Team+2.332
1726Daniil KvyatRUSRed Bull Toro Rosso Honda+2.381
1818Lance StrollCANSportPesa Racing Point F1 Team+2.519
1988Robert KubicaPOLROKiT Williams Racing+3.743
2063George RussellGBRROKiT Williams Racing+9.828

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