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REPORT: Max Verstappen fastest in FP2 at the French Grand Prix

REPORT: Max Verstappen fastest in FP2 at the French Grand Prix

18-06-2021 15:16

Max Verstappen has topped the timings of FP2 at the Circuit Paul Ricard, stopping Valtteri Bottas from leading back-to-back sessions at the French Grand Prix. The Dutchman finished ahead of the Finn in second and Lewis Hamilton in third. It was a superb session for Alpine and Ferrari with all four drivers finishing in the top 8. Red Bull and Mercedes were battling it out at the top of the timings but Sergio Perez struggled to find any pace and finished in 12th.

Red Bull and Mercedes in tight affair

Red Bull were on top of FP2 as Verstappen was the fastest in the afternoon session. The Dutchman topped the charts with a lap time of 1:32.872, however, Bottas was hot on his tail. The Mercedes driver finished only 0.008 seconds behind the 23-year-old. Hamilton was able to find the pace to compete with the top two but it wasn't enough to overtake them in the timings charts. The Brit finished 0.245 seconds behind his teammate and 0.253 seconds behind Verstappen in first.

After victory fell into Perez's hands a fortnight ago in Baku, he was hopeful of a strong performance again this weekend, but that wasn't the case in FP2. The Mexican floated around the top 10 throughout the first half of the session but dropped down towards the end of qualifying simulations and finished outside the top 10 in 12th place at the end of the hour.

Alpine and Ferrari strong in midfield

Alpine and Ferrari had the strongest showing in the session but it was the French team that looked a lot stronger than all of those around them. Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon finished the session in fourth and sixth, with Charles Leclerc splitting the two drivers. Leclerc's teammate Carlos Sainz looked strong in certain parts of the session but found himself in eighth come to the chequered flag, with AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly in seventh place.

The rest of the midfield was split and spread around. Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikkonen and McLaren's Lando Norris were the final two to finish in the top 10. Norris finished in P9 in FP1 but his teammate Daniel Ricciardo, once again, seemed to struggle compared to FP1, much like a repeat of what occurred for the Aussie in Baku. This morning he finished in sixth in FP1 with a lap time of 1:34.644 and was only able to better it minorly with a lap time of 1:34.079, finishing FP2 in 14th.

Raikkonen's teammate Antonio Giovinazzi was in P11 come to the chequered flag, being only 0.009 seconds behind Norris and a top 10 finish. Perez finished in 12th ahead of AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda in 13th. Finally, Aston Martin were unable to capitalise on their strong start to the session and lost out on a top 10 finish, with both Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll finishing at the bottom of the midfield and ahead of only Williams and Haas. They finished in P15 and P16 respectively.

Williams and Haas struggling once again

It was a similar scene at the back of the grid in FP2 today as Williams and Haas found their drivers in the bottom four places. George Russell made his race weekend debut but was only able to best a 17th place finish, the best of the four drivers. Nicholas Latifi followed in P18 and then it was the sight we've seen in every free practice session so far this season, with Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin in P19 and P20.

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