In the first practice session of the French Grand Prix, Charles Leclerc set the pace ahead of his main challenger for the 2022 F1 championship, Max Verstappen.
Leclerc, who recently defeated Verstappen in Austria to boost his F1 title chances, edged the Red Bull driver to the top time in Friday’s opening practice session at Paul Ricard by by 0.091 seconds.
Verstappen, the defending world champion, now leads the standings by 38 points, thus the two contenders for the 2022 championship appear poised to resume their conflict this weekend in France.
During the first 60-minute practise session at the Circuit Paul Ricard, scorching heat greeted the drivers, and it was anticipated that tyre wear would be a major factor throughout the weekend.
Ferrari’s Leclerc set the benchmark FP1 time of 1:33.930 on the Soft compound, beating Red Bull’s Verstappen by 0.091 seconds. Verstappen did appear to lose some time during his best lap, as he ran extremely wide at Turn 11 after going fast through the first two sectors.
Carlos Sainz, who will get a grid penalty for power unit adjustments, finished third behind teammate Charles Leclerc, with a significant distance between him and the rest of the field.
George Russell was fourth fastest for Mercedes and was nearly a second behind pacesetter Leclerc. AlphaTauri’s highly modified AT03 made its on-track debut with Pierre Gasly finishing a promising fifth.
A visor tear-off became stuck in the right-rear of Sergio Perez’s vehicle during his shaky session, causing him to pit, however, he ended up ranking sixth.
In the revised MCL36, Lando Norris of McLaren finished behind Perez to take seventh overall, while Williams’ Alexander Albon finished an unexpected eighth.
Mercedes reserve driver Nyck de Vries finished ninth as he took Lewis Hamilton’s drive for the hour-long practice in accordance with the new Formula 1 rules for young drivers in 2022.
McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo finished in the top 10, ahead of Lance Stroll of Aston Martin and Zhou Guanyu of Alfa Romeo.
Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso, who were sandwiching Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel in positions 13 and 15, had a slow start to Alpine’s home grand prix.
Haas, which is coming into France after a run of consecutive double points, put up a lacklustre performance after Mick Schumacher and Kevin Magnussen finished 16th and 17th, respectively, ahead of Yuki Tsunoda.
Valtteri Bottas was replaced by Robert Kubica, who finished 19th overall while driving Alfa Romeo’s C42.
Nicholas Latifi, who raced for the first time in Williams’ modified FW44, finished last among the 20 drivers after posting the slowest time on Medium tyres as opposed to the Soft tyres used by the other 19 drivers.
2022 F1 FRENCH GRAND PRIX – FREE PRACTICE RESULTS (1)
|1||Charles Leclerc||MON||Scuderia Ferrari||1m33.930s|
|2||Max Verstappen||NED||Oracle Red Bull Racing||1m34.021s|
|3||Carlos Sainz||ESP||Scuderia Ferrari||1m34.268s|
|4||George Russell||GBR||Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team||1m34.881s|
|5||Pierre Gasly||FRA||Scuderia AlphaTauri||1m34.979s|
|6||Sergio Perez||MEX||Oracle Red Bull Racing||1m35.174s|
|7||Lando Norris||GBR||McLaren F1 Team||1m35.232s|
|8||Alexander Albon||THA||Williams Racing||1m35.414s|
|9||Nyck de Vries||NED||Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team||1m35.426s|
|10||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||McLaren F1 Team||1m35.660s|
|11||Guanyu Zhou||CHN||Alfa Romeo F1 Team Orlen||1m35.676s|
|12||Lance Stroll||CAN||Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team||1m35.810s|
|13||Esteban Ocon||FRA||BWT Alpine F1 Team||1m35.828s|
|14||Sebastian Vettel||GER||Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team||1m35.851s|
|15||Fernando Alonso||ESP||BWT Alpine F1 Team||1m35.875s|
|16||Mick Schumacher||GER||Haas F1 Team||1m36.022s|
|17||Kevin Magnussen||DEN||Haas F1 Team||1m36.104s|
|18||Yuki Tsunoda||JPN||Scuderia AlphaTauri||1m36.127s|
|19||Robert Kubica||POL||Alfa Romeo F1 Team Orlen||1m36.332s|
|20||Nicholas Latifi||CAN||Williams Racing||1m37.043s|