Lewis Hamilton continued his strong start to the weekend by going fastest in the second practice for the French Grand Prix. The Mercedes driver was seven tenths faster than Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, with Max Verstappen third.
The Englishman is looking to retake the lead of the championship at a circuit which is expected to favour the Mercedes. The team has fitted a new power unit for this weekend, however, it is unknown whether it is the upgraded power unit which they had planned to bring to Montreal
But it wasn’t a trouble-free afternoon for Mercedes after Valtteri Bottas was unable to do his qualifying-runs on Ultrasoft tyres due to a cooling problem and finished down in seventh, Hamilton’s pace was another pointer to Mercedes’ improved spec two engine.
For Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel it was another frustrating afternoon, the German could only manage fifth fastest and was only fifth fastest. That put him behind his teammate Kimi Raikkonen. However, Ferrari is expected to turn up the engine for Saturday.
Sergio Perez caused the only red flag of the session after his rear tyre became detected from his Force India. The Mexican was on a flying lap when he was going through the high-speed Bendor, The incident prompted an extended red flag period in the session and appeared to hamper the team’s qualifying simulations.
Haas had another encouraging afternoon as they sandwiched Bottas, Romain Grosjean the faster of the two. Haas had predicted that Paul Ricard would be the best place to test the upgrade they brought for Montreal.
McLaren’s significant improver, ending eighth for a McLaren team who have been trialling new parts on their car on F1’s return to France and Paul Ricard. The Spaniard had spent most of the session in thirteenth, before doing a late run on the Ultrasofts.
Kevin Magnussen and Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly ran in the mid top ten as they were two of the first to switch to the Ultrasofts. However, settled for ninth and tenth.
while Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz finished eleventh and twelfth. The French manufacturer had hoped to lead the midfield at there home race but was half a second behind Gasly.
Sauber’s Charles Leclerc was fourteenth as he completed thirty three valuable laps for Sauber, who were forced to run just one car after Marcus Ericsson’s heavy crash at the end of FP1 earlier in the day. Brendon Hartley was fifteenth, but his Toro Rosso came to an early end as his car slowed to a halt in the closing ten minutes.
Both Force India’s were well off the pace, Perez’s tyre failure left his teammate Esteban Ocon with lots of work to do. However the Frenchman could only manage sixteenth, it appeared his qualifying simulations were hampered by the red flag.