RACE DEBRIEF

    Red Bull trailed Ferrari in the brace of opening practice sessions in France and that led Max Verstappen to explain why he found Friday so challenging, while Sergio Perez encountered his own difficulties in a compromised FP2 session.

    Ferrari ended Friday on a high in France, Charles Leclerc having led FP1 over Verstappen before Carlos Sainz topped FP2 ahead of team mate Leclerc. In the second session, Verstappen finished third, more than half a second behind Sainz.

    FP2: Sainz leads Ferrari team mate Leclerc by 0.1s in second French GP practice session

    “I think FP2 was a little bit more difficult for us,” said championship leader Verstappen. “We just didn’t really get the balance like we hoped for, but also we are trying a few things with the car. So we’ll have a look at it all for tomorrow and of course try to be closer than what we were today.

    “In the long runs it’s a bit better but again, the tyres are running really hot and it’s very difficult to judge really where you are. But we know of course that we still have a little bit of work to do.”

    Max Verstappen 'didn't get balance we hoped for' in Friday practice

    Whether the tyre degradation will be as severe as it was in Austria, where Verstappen aced qualifying and the Sprint before falling to second behind Leclerc in the Grand Prix, the Dutchman wasn’t sure.

    “That, I don’t know," he said. "I mean overall this track is very hard on the tyres anyway so I think you cannot compare it to Austria, but I think in general we all needed a few more laps to really have a good look at the long run.

    Team mate Perez was sixth in FP1, 1.2s off the pace, and 10th in FP2 – 1.5s adrift – as he faced a challenging start to the weekend. The Mexican revealed that an issue with his car meant he couldn’t get a representative soft-tyred run.

    READ MORE: Perez looking to bounce back in France, as he insists he is 'still in contention' for the championship

    “We were basically having some delays, nothing really going on, a bit of an issue with one of the anti-roll bars but nothing major," he said. "It’s been a very short stint on that soft tyre but it’s what it is and hopefully tomorrow we are able to put it all together and be in the fight.

    “Obviously I’m not very comfortable at the moment with the car. I think there’s some good work and understanding to be done over tonight, and we will try to pick up the best pieces for tomorrow’s qualifying and race.”

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