Lewis Hamilton opened the French Grand Prix weekend fastest, beating Mercedes AMG Motorsport team-mate Valtteri Bottas by 0.069 seconds in Free Practice 1 at the Circuit Paul Ricard.
The reigning world champion set a lap time of 1:32.738 to go on top of the time sheets ahead of Bottas, who showed promising pace throughout the practice session. Scuderia Ferrari‘s Charles Leclerc followed behind the two Mercedes drivers in third, pipping Max Verstappen. Sebastian Vettel and home driver Pierre Gasly in the Red Bull Racing took fifth and sixth overall in the standings.
The session began with both Ferrari drivers heading out on track in the opening minutes, testing their new aerodynamic upgrades. Leclerc set the pace early on in the session with a 1:35.822 ahead of McLaren‘s Carlos Sainz Jr. and Vettel. The Monegasque driver had the old front wing specification whilst Vettel followed behind with the upgraded design.
Daniil Kvyat in the Toro Rosso Honda, who will start this weekend from the back of the grid, suffered a spin at the exit of Turn 5. Nico Hülkenberg had smoke pouring out of his cockpit due to the plank of his Renault rubbing too much on the ground.
Bottas jumped to the top of the standings with a 1:34.500 with over 30 minutes of opening practice session completed, ahead of Verstappen and team-mate Hamilton. Few drivers were struggling with the grip on their tyres in the early stages of the session.
After a quiet period on track around the midway point of the session, cars headed back on track with Norris, Gasly, Kevin Magnussen and Kimi Räikkönen heading out on track. Gasly’s first lap on the Medium Pirelli tyres pushed him to the top of the standings with a 1:34.271 before Norris surpassed him to first place by 0.161 seconds. The two Mercedes cars of Bottas and Hamilton quickly took over the top with Bottas breaking into the 1:33’s with a 1:33.773.
Home driver Gasly managed to find more time and split the two Mercedes cars before Hamilton set a 1:33.272 to go fastest ahead of Bottas, Verstappen and Gasly. Norris continued to show promising and quick pace throughout practice in his McLaren to be fifth overall ahead of Daniel Ricciardo and Sainz. With twenty minutes of the session left, Verstappen lost the rear of his car going into Turn 8, spinning as a result but managed to keep his Red Bull going and resume his running.
Ferrari headed back out on track in the late stage of the session with Leclerc improving to jump into third behind both Mercedes cars whilst Vettel struggled to place a quick lap in his opening laps with the Soft tyres. The German eventually placed a quick lap, putting himself in fifth ahead of Gasly, who spun at Turn 3 and 4 chicane in the final five minutes of practice.
The first practice session ended with Mercedes leading a one-two result with Hamilton ahead of Bottas. Leclerc placed the third best time ahead of Verstappen, Verstappen and Gasly. Both McLaren drivers were the best of the rest ahead of Ricciardo and Alexander Albon. FIA Formula 2 championship leader Nicholas Latifi in the Williams Racing car, replacing George Russell, made another Free Practice 1 appearance and ended the session in eighteenth ahead of Robert Kubica.
|1||44||Lewis Hamilton||GBR||Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport||1:32.738|
|2||77||Valtteri Bottas||FIN||Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport||+0.06|
|3||16||Charles Leclerc||MON||Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow||+0.373|
|4||33||Max Verstappen||NED||Aston Martin Red Bull Racing||+0.880|
|5||5||Sebastian Vettel||GER||Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow||+1.052|
|6||10||Pierre Gasly||FRA||Aston Martin Red Bull Racing||+1.353|
|7||4||Lando Norris||GBR||McLaren F1 Team||+1.372|
|8||55||Carlos Sainz Jr.||ESP||McLaren F1 Team||+1.523|
|9||3||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||Renault F1 Team||+1.802|
|10||23||Alexander Albon||THA||Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda||+2.066|
|11||11||Sergio Pérez||MEX||SportPesa Racing Point F1 Team||+2.071|
|12||27||Nico Hülkenberg||GER||Renault F1 Team||+2.072|
|13||18||Lance Stroll||CAN||SportPesa Racing Point F1 Team||+2.325|
|14||26||Daniil Kvyat||RUS||Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda||+2.588|
|15||20||Kevin Magnussen||DEN||Rich Energy Haas F1 Team||+2.672|
|16||7||Kimi Räikkönen||FIN||Alfa Romeo Racing||+2.784|
|17||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||ITA||Alfa Romeo Racing||+3.364|
|18||40||Nicholas Latifi||CAN||ROKiT Williams Racing||+4.409|
|19||88||Robert Kubica||POL||ROKiT Williams Racing||+4.434|
|20||8||Romain Grosjean||FRA||Rich Energy Haas F1 Team||+4.882|