Lewis Hamilton closed out Friday’s French Formula 1 Grand Prix practice action on top of the timesheets with a dominant display in the afternoon’s second session at Circuit Paul Ricard.

The Englishman finished a full seven-tenths of a second clear of the field in a session where lap times were slower than the day’s opening incident-filled practice session in which he led teammate Valtteri Bottas to a 1-2 result on the timesheets.

Hamilton set the early pace on Pirelli’s Supersoft tyres until Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo relegated him to second with an Ultrasoft stint just before the halfway mark of the 90-minute session.

One of the last to switch to the Ultrasoft tyres, Hamilton was forced to abandon his first flying lap when the session was red-flagged after Sergio Pérez’s Force India shed its left-rear wheel at Turn 7. The Mexican’s car was sent into a sudden spin on the Mistral Straight and with his car in a dangerous position the officials had no choice but to briefly suspend proceedings to safely remove it.

Hamilton returned to the track on the same set of tyres and clocked a 1:32.539 on his first proper flying lap. A second attempt on the same tyre set after a slower cool-down lap saw him come up two-tenths of a second short of going even quicker.

The time was still comfortably quicker than anyone else could manage, with Ricciardo claiming second-fastest ahead of teammate Max Verstappen who was just 0.028 seconds off the Australian’s best lap on Ultrasoft tyres.

Kimi Räikkönen again outpaced his championship leading teammate Sebastian Vettel as the off-the-pace Ferraris finished fourth and fifth-fastest respectively, while Romain Grosjean backed up his solid FP1 pace with sixth-fastest in the Haas Ferrari.

Valtteri Bottas finished the session an unrepresentative seventh on the timesheets, losing valuable practice mileage while his Mercedes mechanics removed his car’s floor to investigate a water leak. The Finn was one of the session’s early pace-setters on the Soft compound Pirelli tyres, the hardest tyre set available to the grid this weekend.

Fresh from his victory for Toyota at last weekend’s Le Mans 24 Hours, Fernando Alonso finished eighth-quickest in his McLaren. The Spaniard ran on the Soft Pirelli tyres for much of the session before bolting on as set of Ultrasoft tyres in the closing minutes of the session to improve from thirteenth-quickest.

He had a spin late in the session at Turn 4, losing the back end of his car on the exit kerbs.

Kevin Magnussen backed up the Haas team’s strong pace with ninth-fastest, with Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly ensuring two of the field’s three French drivers finished in the top ten.

Teammate Brendon Hartley suffered a loss of power in his Honda engine in the closing minutes of the session, prompting a brief Virtual Safety Car period while his car was removed from the side of the track.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson did not participate in the session following his heavy accident in the opening practice session that saw his car briefly on fire.

Saturday’s French Grand Prix action will feature one final practice session at 13:00 local time followed by qualifying at 16:00 (GMT +2).


FORMULA 1 PIRELLI GRAND PRIX DE FRANCE 2018 – FREE PRACTICE SESSION 2 TIMES
Driver Team / Entry Time Gap Laps
1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport F1W09 1:32.539 27
2. Daniel Ricciardo Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB14 1:33.243 + 0.704 31
3. Max Verstappen Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB14 1:33.271 + 0.732 24
4. Kimi Räikkönen Scuderia Ferrari SF71H 1:33.426 + 0.887 29
5. Sebastian Vettel Scuderia Ferrari SF71H 1:33.689 + 1.150 35
6. Romain Grosjean Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-18 1:33.699 + 1.160 30
7. Valtteri Bottas Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport F1W09 1:34.156 + 1.617 7
8. Fernando Alonso McLaren F1 Team Renault MCL33 1:34.400 + 1.861 24
9. Kevin Magnussen Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-18 1:34.457 + 1.918 33
10. Pierre Gasly Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda STR13 1:34.535 + 1.996 35
11. Nico Hülkenberg Renault Sport F1 Team RS18 1:35.067 + 2.528 30
12. Carlos Sainz Jr Renault Sport F1 Team RS18 1:35.086 + 2.547 33
13. Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren F1 Team Renault MCL33 1:35.172 + 2.633 28
14. Charles Leclerc Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C37 1:35.583 + 3.044 33
15. Brendon Hartley Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda STR13 1:35.697 + 3.158 31
16. Esteban Ocon Force India F1 Team Mercedes VJM11 1:35.705 + 3.166 25
17. Lance Stroll Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW41 1:35.936 + 3.397 34
18. Sergey Sirotkin Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW41 1:35.970 + 3.431 35
19. Sergio Pérez Force India F1 Team Mercedes VJM11 1:36.080 + 3.541 13
20. Marcus Ericsson Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C37 no time 0

Image via Formula1.com

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.
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