Verstappen leads Bottas by tiny margin in second practice

2021 French Grand Prix second practice

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Max Verstappen led Valtteri Bottas by just eight thousandths of a second as Friday practice at Paul Ricard came to an end.

Bottas’ fastest time was set early in the session, on medium tyres. Team mate Lewis Hamilton set his quickest on soft tyres, although he was more than two tenths adrift of Bottas’ lap.

Verstappen’s best time was set on soft tyres after several performance runs where the Red Bull pit wall asked him to continue to set additional timed laps. He only narrowly beat Bottas’ time, but Mercedes had no response in their final runs.

There were no significant incidents during the session, however, there was a brief Virtual Safety Car period while an endplate from Verstappen’s front wing was retrieved from the track. Red Bull requested the piece be returned, saying they were short of parts.

Red Bull reiterated Mercedes’ complaint that the yellow sausage kerbs at the exit of turn two were causing costly damage for a minor track limits error. Race director Michael Masi said he will review the kerb overnight.

Fernando Alonso was the quickest Alpine driver, setting the fourth-quickest time overall, the team looking even stronger than they had in the morning session. Charles Leclerc separated him from team mate Esteban Ocon, Ferrari seeming much more competitive on short runs than in first practice.

Pierre Gasly, Kimi Raikkonen and Lando Norris put AlphaTauri, Alfa Romeo and McLaren into the top 10. Of their team mates, Antonio Giovinazzi was closest to joining his in the top 10, only pushed down to eleventh by Norris by nine-thousandths of a second.

Sergio Perez was well off Verstappen’s best time and finished the session 12th fastest.

Like the Mercedes pair, the Aston Martin drivers also set their quickest lap times on the medium tyre compounds. However the green cars appear less competitive at Paul Ricard – Baku podium finisher Sebastian Vettel ending the session 15th, one place ahead of Lance Stroll in the other AMR21. Behind them came the Williams pair and the two Haas drivers at the bottom of the times.

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2021 French Grand Prix second practice result

Pos. No. Driver Car Best lap Gap Laps
1 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1’32.872 21
2 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1’32.880 0.008 27
3 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’33.125 0.253 23
4 14 Fernando Alonso Alpine-Renault 1’33.340 0.468 25
5 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1’33.550 0.678 23
6 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault 1’33.685 0.813 23
7 10 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1’33.696 0.824 25
8 55 Carlos Sainz Jnr Ferrari 1’33.698 0.826 24
9 7 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1’33.786 0.914 26
10 4 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes 1’33.822 0.950 24
11 99 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1’33.831 0.959 23
12 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull-Honda 1’33.921 1.049 24
13 22 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda 1’33.955 1.083 25
14 3 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren-Mercedes 1’34.079 1.207 24
15 5 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin-Mercedes 1’34.447 1.575 25
16 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes 1’34.632 1.760 24
17 63 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1’35.266 2.394 25
18 6 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1’35.331 2.459 25
19 47 Mick Schumacher Haas-Ferrari 1’35.512 2.640 24
20 9 Nikita Mazepin Haas-Ferrari 1’35.551 2.679 23

Second practice visual gaps

Max Verstappen – 1’32.872

+0.008 Valtteri Bottas – 1’32.880

+0.253 Lewis Hamilton – 1’33.125

+0.468 Fernando Alonso – 1’33.340

+0.678 Charles Leclerc – 1’33.550

+0.813 Esteban Ocon – 1’33.685

+0.824 Pierre Gasly – 1’33.696

+0.826 Carlos Sainz Jnr – 1’33.698

+0.914 Kimi Raikkonen – 1’33.786

+0.950 Lando Norris – 1’33.822

+0.959 Antonio Giovinazzi – 1’33.831

+1.049 Sergio Perez – 1’33.921

+1.083 Yuki Tsunoda – 1’33.955

+1.207 Daniel Ricciardo – 1’34.079

+1.575 Sebastian Vettel – 1’34.447

+1.760 Lance Stroll – 1’34.632

+2.394 George Russell – 1’35.266

+2.459 Nicholas Latifi – 1’35.331

+2.640 Mick Schumacher – 1’35.512

+2.679 Nikita Mazepin – 1’35.551

Drivers more then ten seconds off the pace omitted.

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2021 French Grand Prix

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Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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29 comments on “Verstappen leads Bottas by tiny margin in second practice”

  1. FP1, Mercedes. FP2, Red Bull complained about the small physical deterrents for TL enforcement. They should just shut up about something pretty much everyone has wished for, LOL.

    1. RandomMallard (@)
      18th June 2021, 15:18

      @jerejj 100% agree. They seem to have the track limit self-policing done to the best the track will allow here. I’m just waiting for Race Control to find a way to ruin it anyway.

    2. @jerejj I doubt that ‘everyone’ has wished for deterrents that break cars. I think many wish for deterrents that cost time but not body parts.

      1. Time only is not effective. Walls are!

        1. Constant red flag stoppages are not effective either.

        2. RandomMallard (@)
          18th June 2021, 15:59

          It seems to be effective for MotoGP’s long lap penalty

  2. Not said here, but Bottas fastest time set on mediums vs softs for Verstappen.

    1. Maybe we will have different conditions tomorrow that can make the S tyre work because today a lot of drivers appeared to get understeer in the 3rd sector during their qualifying simulations. But, I don’t expect the S tyre to be used in the race, unless you want to do a 10 lap stint. That tyre is too fragile, especially given the amount of high lateral load corners here.

    2. The softs fall off before the end of the lap. Not clear at all that the soft is actually the better tyre for Q.

    3. Bottas could not improve on his own Medium time with Softs. Ver improved quite a lot from Medium to soft.

      1. I think that’s the story of the season, red bull better on soft and mercedes on medium.

    4. Bottas drove his fastest lap in a higher power mode according to AMuS. Might be the reason that his fastest lap on softs was not as fast as on mediums.

      1. How on earth can they know the power settings lol

  3. There is no way to please everybody is there. If track limits don’t punish the driver, fans unhappy. If it punishes the driver, teams unhappy.

    1. ian dearing
      18th June 2021, 15:33

      I don’t think many people want to see serious damage to the car as a deterrent. The idea surely is to slow them down?

      1. Damage is not a bad thing. There must be real consequences. If there was a wall or hedge at the side of the track drivers would be sure to avoid that wall or hedge. Same for the kerbs.

        1. As I wrote above, Time$ is no deterrent, Wall$ is.

        2. ian dearing
          18th June 2021, 15:52

          Sure to avoid it? What like they do in Baku, Singapore and Monaco?

          1. They hit the walls in Baku, Singapore and Monaco through bad judgment, which ought to be punished, not because they’re using extra “track” to go faster. At Paul Ricard they believe they can get away with it, and they now know they can’t.

        3. @greenflag Damage is a bad thing and there is nothing wrong with deterrents that harm lap times without causing damage. I’m sure you wouldn’t be fine if your driver got pushed wide onto a damaging kerb and that ended his day or at least his car performance. I’m sure you’d wish for something more like slippery grass there instead.

  4. If you are going to miss one Grand Prix a year, this in my view is the one to avoid. F1 cars look static when racing around large areas of tarmac. This childishly painted, game apeing shadow of the old Paul Ricard (Which was once one of the most spectacular on the calendar) does nothing for F1 other than reveal the extent to which landscapes and racing excitement has been destroyed to make the tarmac run-off areas of modern F1. I will listen on the radio…at least that way I don’t have to watch.

    1. I think there’s more that suck, like abu dhabi and russia, usually.

      1. No you are right……Sochi is beyond awful. I had managed to erase that from my mind over last year. Abu Dhabi is OK I think, I quite like the day/night thing.

    2. Davethechicken
      18th June 2021, 17:52

      Seriously Monaco is the worst by far. Even the last time I attended that race (and I have been there for 3 of them) I have took to the bar near the castle after the first few laps, such was the bore. (area pass for the rocky Bank beneath the castle)

      1. But the cars look spectacular in the close context of the city. It is a real test of skill. The race is packed with stories, Senna crashing while leading, cars in the harbour, Daly cartweeling, the race that no one seemed to want to win, Senna in the Toleman catching Prost for the lead. The last few races have been uneventful I think because the drivers spend hours and hours and hours on the simulator.

  5. Wouldn’t mind this as race result!

  6. Did someone see why Perez was so much further back this session?

    1. They tried different engine settings on both cars, so that could be a reason.

    2. Different rear wing I read

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