FP2: Bottas leads Hamilton as Mercedes excel in France
Mercedes picked up where they left off in first practice with an impressive display of performance in the second session as they stretched their advantage over rivals Ferrari at Circuit Paul Ricard in the French Riviera.
It was reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton who was the quicker of the Silver Arrows in FP1, but he endured a messy afternoon – including a four-wheel slide through Turns 3 and 4 – and could only manage second, 0.424s adrift of pace-setter Valtteri Bottas.
That four-wheel slide one was of a number of errors for Hamilton during this session, but it could prove to be the most costly. When the Briton rejoined ahead of Turn 5, Max Verstappen was on a lap, and went around on the outside before running off track. The stewards said they would investigate the incident after the session.
Ferrari continued to carry out evaluations on the host of new parts, including a new front wing, they have brought to France, with Charles Leclerc the closest challenger to Mercedes – but he was 0.649s adrift, which is almost double the deficit from the morning.
His team mate Sebastian Vettel, meanwhile, continued to look uncomfortable, his Ferrari sliding around and running off track on several occasions. The German’s best effort was around a tenth off the pace of Leclerc.
FORMULA 1 PIRELLI GRAND PRIX DE FRANCE 2019
Practice 2 results
|1 Valtteri Bottas BOT Mercedes||1:30.937|
|2 Lewis Hamilton HAM Mercedes||+0.424s|
|3 Charles Leclerc LEC Ferrari||+0.649s|
|4 Sebastian Vettel VET Ferrari||+0.728s|
|5 Lando Norris NOR McLaren||+0.945s|
The gap between the two teams was slightly bigger during the initial runs on the medium tyres, with Mercedes comfortably quicker.
Behind the top two teams was Lando Norris, who was one of the last drivers to complete his low-fuel run. The McLaren driver slotted into fifth, 0.945s off the pace, nearly two-tenths of a second quicker than Red Bull’s Verstappen running the updated Honda power unit.
Carlos Sainz made it two McLarens in the top seven, ahead of Pierre Gasly who was four-tenths adrift of his Red Bull team mate in eighth. Kimi Rakkonen and Kevin Magnussen closed out the top 10.
It was a frustrating session for Magnussen’s Haas team mate Romain Grosjean, who had several lock-ups and complained about the feel of his car throughout the session as he ended up down in 17th.