RACE DEBRIEF

    Fresh from his podium at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel came back down to earth in Friday running for the French Grand Prix, crashing in Free Practice 1 and spending the whole day outside of the top 10. But Vettel, for one, seemed unpertrubed by Aston Martin’s apparent lack of pace at Paul Ricard so far.

    The German was rounding Le Beausset corner 15 minutes into Free Practice 1 when the rear of his Aston Martin AMR21 snapped around on him, Vettel sliding backwards into the wall – with the incident limiting the four-time champion to just 16 laps in the session.

    “I had an off this morning which cost us some time,” explained Vettel. “[The wind] caught me out… You can’t see what the wind is doing, obviously you get a feel for it but it’s difficult to see whether there’s a gust or not. But it’s the same for all of us, so it is what it is.”

    WATCH: Schumacher and Vettel first to hit the wall in first practice at Paul Ricard

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    Vettel was confident he could find some more pace in time for qualifying

    Things didn’t improve much in normal running, either, with Vettel only managing to take a pair of P15s in Free Practices 1 and 2, the German one place behind team mate Lance Stroll in FP1, and one place ahead in FP2.

    But Vettel seemed unconcerned by his lack of Friday pace, telling the media he was still confident he could put his laps together in qualifying.

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    “I think overall it was okay,” said Vettel, who took P2 at the previous race in Baku, for Aston Martin’s first ever F1 podium. “Not a great day. There’s a lot of things that we can do better but I think that’s a positive.

    “I feel we’ve got more in the car so it’s up to us to unleash it but for sure it’s going to be very tight. I haven’t seen much of the times, but I would expect it to be very tight. So we have some work ahead of us.

    Sebastian Vettel: Aston Martin need to 'unleash' pace for French GP qualifying

    “In the long run it was good to get some consecutive laps,” he added of his FP2 performance, “but for the flying lap it wasn’t great. I had a mistake so it doesn’t look that good on the board.

    “But then it’s Friday and it doesn’t really matter. The most important is that we get a good feel and then I know what to do tomorrow in qualifying.”

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    Stroll, meanwhile, said that although Aston Martin had done some “important homework” on Friday at Paul Ricard, he was keen to find more pace overnight to help the team in what looks set to be a tough midfield battle this weekend.

    “We learned some useful things about the car balance and did some important homework [today],” he said. “However, I think we are leaving some pace out there, so we will go away tonight, look over everything and try to come back stronger tomorrow. The midfield is already looking very close this weekend, so small gains can certainly make a difference; that is what we will be aiming to find for qualifying.”