FP1: Hamilton edges Bottas as France returns


Running a new engine, although Mercedes won’t say if it is the new spec, Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas claimed the 1-2 as F1 made a fiery return to France.

Hosting its first Formula 1 grand prix session since 1990, the Paul Ricard circuit did not disappoint.

High speeds, fast corners and offs heralded France’s return to the Formula 1 calendar.

Daniel Ricciardo led the early running as he posted a 1:32.576 on the soft tyres. That put him half a second up on Valtteri Bottas, who was using the ultras.

Both Mercedes drivers and all four customer cars ran new engines on Friday, however, Mercedes refused to confirm whether they were new spec engines or new old spec ones.

Mercedes made it a 1-2 as Bottas went quickest and Hamilton overhauled him, beating his team-mate’s best by 0.140s.

The Brit’s best was a 1:32.231.

Ricciardo fell to third, finishing FP1 ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, Sebastian Vettel, who missed part of the session due to a front suspension change, and Romain Grosjean.

Max Verstappen, Pierre Gasly, Sergio Perez and Kevin Magnussen completed the top ten.

The first mistake in France in 10 years belonged to Brendon Hartley. He lost the back end of his STR13 and spun at Turn 6.

Stoffel Vandoorne made a similar mistake a short while latest with Raikkonen adding his name to the list of those spinning as the head wind abruptly became a tail wind.

Both Sauber drivers spun as did Esteban Ocon. His off meant his session was cut short as that ruined his second set of tyres.

Traffic proved to be a bit of a problem as Raikkonen had to avoid a slow moving Williams driving in the middle of the track while Hamilton had to get off the track entirely to avoid Stoffel Vandoorne. Vandoorne had been slowed by Esteban Ocon and was on the racing line when Hamilton approached at speed. He shot off the track to avoid a collision.

Hamilton later did a bit of a traffic move on Perez, who was later also caught out by Magnussen.

It wasn’t, however, until 87 minutes into FP1 that there was big drama as Marcus Ericsson lost the rear of his Sauber, spun off the track and hit the wall. His car caught fire and he appeared to hit his head in the impact.

The marshals weren’t exactly quickly on the scene while Ericsson was given a lift back to the pits in the medical car.

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:32.231 25 laps
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 0.14s 29 laps
3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 0.296s 25 laps
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 0.772s 23 laps
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 0.941s 19 laps
6 Romain Grosjean Haas 1.087s 22 laps
7 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1.1s 15 laps
8 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 1.454s 23 laps
9 Sergio Perez Force India 1.488s 26 laps
10 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1.877s 23 laps
11 Carlos Sainz Renault 2.027s 25 laps
12 Esteban Ocon Force India 2.253s 14 laps
13 Charles Leclerc Sauber 2.282s 21 laps
14 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 2.361s 21 laps
15 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 2.433s 25 laps
16 Fernando Alonso McLaren 2.631s 20 laps
17 Lance Stroll Williams 2.65s 28 laps
18 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 2.762s 24 laps
19 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 2.79s 24 laps
20 Sergey Sirotkin Williams 2.874s 25 laps