Lewis Hamilton tops French GP practice as Sergio Perez loses wheel

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    Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton set a blistering pace in second practice at the French Grand Prix.

    The world champion was a massive 0.704 seconds quicker than his closest rival, Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo.

    Hamilton’s title rival Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari was only fifth fastest, 1.150secs adrift of Hamilton.

    The session included a 10-minute red flag period, caused when Sergio Perez’s Force India lost a wheel, which potentially distorted the picture.

    The delay meant drivers made their qualifying simulation runs at different times, when the track conditions may have been different.

    Who has the fastest race pace?

    Vettel, for example, set his time on the fastest ultra-soft tyres before the session was stopped, and Hamilton after.

    But the race runs also suggested Mercedes had an advantage – Hamilton was about 0.5secs a lap on average faster than Raikkonen on their long runs on the ultra-soft tyres, with Ricciardo behind the Finn.

    Neither Vettel nor Verstappen did comparable runs on the same tyre.

    How does it feel to drive an F1 car at Paul Ricard?

    Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas had a troubled session. He was just over 0.2secs behind on the first runs – on slower tyres – but then his car suffered a water leak and he had to miss the balance of the session, losing out on both his qualifying run and his race run.

    Behind the big three teams, Haas driver Frenchman Romain Grosjean was sixth quickest, sneaking ahead of Bottas, with McLaren’s Fernando Alonso eighth.

    The Spaniard, at the French Grand Prix a week after winning at Le Mans with Toyota, may have been flattered in that position by circumstance – he did his quick run on ultra-softs right at the end of the session, when the most rubber would be down to increase grip.

    Alonso also had a scrappy session – he ended it with a spin at Turn Three when pushing for a faster time – shortly after a frustrated message to his team over the radio – and had earlier run wide twice at Turn Two.

    His team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne was down in 13th.

    The second Haas of Kevin Magnussen was ninth fastest, ahead of Frenchman Pierre Gasly in the Toro Rosso.

    Fire in the hole: Marcus Ericsson’s session was ended after a heavy crash in first practice
    Fernando Alonso was in the middle of a radio rant when he spun off at Turn Three
    View the original article: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/formula1/44580941


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