Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Paul Ricard, 2019

Mercedes lead first practice as drivers struggle on hot track

2019 French Grand Prix first practice

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Lewis Hamilton led a Mercedes one-two as drivers struggled for grip in the first practice session for the French Grand Prix.

After the first 90 minutes of running at Paul Ricard, Hamilton’s best effort was half a second off the best time seen in the same session last year. Surface temperatures on the heavily resurfaced track reached almost 50C during the session.

Hamilton shaded team mate Valtteri Bottas by less than seven-hundredths of a second. Charles Leclerc was closest of their rivals as Ferrari assessed the new upgrade package for their SF90.

Many drivers found the soft compound tyres wilted rapidly in the heat. Both Red Bull drivers suffered spins. Max Verstappen was the quicker of the pair, but almost nine-tenths slower than Hamilton, followed by Sebastian Vettel and Pierre Gasly.

McLaren had another of their promising Friday mornings. Lando Norris ended the session less than two-hundredths of a second shy of Gasly, but complaining that his tyres were destroyed. Carlos Sainz Jnr made it a ‘best of the rest’ one-two for the orange cars.

Daniel Ricciardo put his Renault fastest, though both he and team mate Nico Hulkenberg incurred fines for speeding in the reshaped pit lane. Alexander Albon, the only Honda driver still using the old-spec power unit, completed the top 10.

A water leak confined Romain Grosjean to the pits for most of the session and left him at the bottom of the times behind the two Williams drivers. These were led by reserve driver Nicholas Latifi, though his best effort was a full second away from the next car.

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Pos.No.DriverCarBest lapGapLaps
144Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’32.73821
277Valtteri BottasMercedes1’32.8070.06920
316Charles LeclercFerrari1’33.1110.37321
433Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda1’33.6180.88020
55Sebastian VettelFerrari1’33.7901.05222
610Pierre GaslyRed Bull-Honda1’34.0911.35320
74Lando NorrisMcLaren-Renault1’34.1101.37223
855Carlos Sainz JnrMcLaren-Renault1’34.2611.52326
93Daniel RicciardoRenault1’34.5401.80218
1023Alexander AlbonToro Rosso-Honda1’34.8042.06625
1111Sergio PerezRacing Point-Mercedes1’34.8092.07121
1227Nico HulkenbergRenault1’34.8102.07225
1318Lance StrollRacing Point-Mercedes1’35.0632.32522
1426Daniil KvyatToro Rosso-Honda1’35.3262.58824
1520Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari1’35.4102.67219
167Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’35.5222.78422
1799Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’36.1023.36422
1840Nicholas LatifiWilliams-Mercedes1’37.1474.40925
1988Robert KubicaWilliams-Mercedes1’37.1724.43427
208Romain GrosjeanHaas-Ferrari1’37.6204.8829

First practice visual gaps

Lewis Hamilton – 1’32.738

+0.069 Valtteri Bottas – 1’32.807

+0.373 Charles Leclerc – 1’33.111

+0.880 Max Verstappen – 1’33.618

+1.052 Sebastian Vettel – 1’33.790

+1.353 Pierre Gasly – 1’34.091

+1.372 Lando Norris – 1’34.110

+1.523 Carlos Sainz Jnr – 1’34.261

+1.802 Daniel Ricciardo – 1’34.540

+2.066 Alexander Albon – 1’34.804

+2.071 Sergio Perez – 1’34.809

+2.072 Nico Hulkenberg – 1’34.810

+2.325 Lance Stroll – 1’35.063

+2.588 Daniil Kvyat – 1’35.326

+2.672 Kevin Magnussen – 1’35.410

+2.784 Kimi Raikkonen – 1’35.522

+3.364 Antonio Giovinazzi – 1’36.102

+4.409 Nicholas Latifi – 1’37.147

+4.434 Robert Kubica – 1’37.172

+4.882 Romain Grosjean – 1’37.620

Drivers more then ten seconds off the pace omitted.

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2019 French Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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11 comments on “Mercedes lead first practice as drivers struggle on hot track”

  1. What is happening at Sauber I wonder

    1. What happening with Giovinazzi that far more important.

    2. They wrote on twitter they were evaluating updates, we could hope they were running below the max pace to do that consistently. Or they are now solidly the 9th team again @alfa145?

  2. Ignoring Romains time, look at how far Williams are off the pace. That does not look good.

    1. Four and a half percent off the fastest time @nullapax, not great (but, they expected they’d be off as far as on barcelona, so maybe not surprising); let’s see if Russell gets them any closer.

  3. Well, a really clumsy first practice. Many driver errors, but Mercedes clearly ahead. Ferrari’s obviously trying different aerodynamic solutions of their front wing and so far it’s hard to evaluate how much they could gain. Red Bull seemed surprisingly off the pace despite their engine upgrade, but still, it’s only a first practice, they could gain a tenth or two towards the qualifying. And a decent performance by McLaren. They are definitely on track to be more consistent and competitive, but I hope their race pace will be better than in Canada (despite their problems, the Renaults were clearly faster and could even hold back the Mercedes for some time).

    1. It might be that the new Honda PU has still been turned down for the 1st running, and we see Red Bull add pace later on.

      1. Yes, that’s a valid reason. Still remember how Mercedes struggled with their new spec two weeks ago. But I don’t see Honda gaining much on one lap, rather their race pace could be interesting.

  4. One shouldn’t take a lot of inferences from FP1 but it pains to see Kubica set a time that slower than Latifi !!

    1. I see it as quite positive – Robert is less than a tenth slower than the current F2 championship leader.
      If anything it shows hes doing very well, especially considering hes driving ‘with one arm’ and ‘too old’ as gets casually thrown around.

    2. Less than a tenth though. That’s a win for an apparent one armed oap invalid to match the current F2 leader…

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