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REPORT: Valtteri Bottas fastest in FP1 at the French GP as Ferrari struggle

REPORT: Valtteri Bottas fastest in FP1 at the French GP as Ferrari struggle

18-06-2021 11:47 Last update: 11:54

Valtteri Bottas was fastest in FP1 at the French Grand Prix, edging out Lewis Hamilton in P2 and Max Verstappen in third place. Bottas' time of 1:33.448 was 0.335 seconds quicker than Hamilton in second, and over four tenths faster than the first Red Bull driver. 

The session started in strange fashion as Mick Schumacher suffered an extremely early incident, spinning and brushing the wall in sector one of his first lap. The Haas driver returned to the pits and only managed to set a lap time after half the session had passed.

After Schumacher suffered an issue, Valtteri Bottas went slightly wide at turn two and ran over the yellow rumble strips and damaged his front wing. Mercedes weren't happy with this, and complained to the FIA via radio. They want the strips removed as they caused "thousands of pounds" of damage for a mistake of just "three feet".

However, once he came back onto the track, he immediately went ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton and into P2. Red Bull looked quickest at the start of the session, with Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez running one-two for the first half of the session, before Mercedes took over.

Carlos Sainz ruined a set of his tyres and running wide at turn two, like Bottas, and he was forced into the pits, running in 15th with 15 minutes to go.

Bottas went quickest and with a quarter of the session remaining, his 1:33.448 time was over three tenths quicker than Hamilton. Things remained the same until the chequered flag.

Mercedes look quickest

After failing to score a single point in Azerbaijan, Mercedes look back to their best here at Le Castellet. With two street circuits out of the way, the advantage Red Bull held seems to have flipped, and Toto Wolff's outfit will be aiming for a return to another one-two.

Alpine look very competitive

Fernando Alonso spent the majority of the session running in the top 10, and he finished in P7 with a time of 1:34.693. His teammate Esteban Ocon, who signed a bumper new deal that will keep him at the team until 2024, was in the bottom half of the grid for much of FP1, but jumped up to fifth with less than 10 minutes to go. 

He ended the session in P5, and in his home race, looks on course for a good result.

Back to reality for Ferrari

After Charles Leclerc secured his second consecutive pole position in Baku, it was back to normality for Ferrari in France. Both drivers ended the session outside the top 10, with Leclerc in 11th with a time of 1:34.950, whilst Carlos Sainz was down in P16, 0.392 seconds behind his Monegasque teammate.

They'll need to find some extra speed if they even want to make Q3 on Saturday.

Aston Martin take a step backwards

Sebastian Vettel secured Aston Martin's first ever Formula 1 podium last time out in Baku, but in FP1 at Circuit Paul Ricard, they struggled. Vettel finished in 15th whilst his teammate Lance Stroll, who suffered a tyre failure in Azerbaijan, was one place higher in 14th.

Both AlphaTauri and McLaren drivers were in the top 10, so they seem to have taken a step backwards, and are set to lose even more ground if they can't recover.

Final Standings

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