French GP: Charles Leclerc beats Max Verstappen in the best time in practice 1

French GP: Charles Leclerc beats Max Verstappen in the best time in practice 1

Charles Leclerc climbs to the top of the timesheet late in the opening practice session at Paul Ricard to edge out Max Verstappen; watch the French GP live on Sky Sports F1 this weekend, with the second practice session starting at 4pm

Last update: 07/22/22 2:51 p.m.

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Anthony Davidson analyzes Charles Leclerc’s fastest lap since P1 at the French GP.

Anthony Davidson analyzes Charles Leclerc’s fastest lap since P1 at the French GP.

Charles Leclerc kept up his momentum in the World Championship battle to beat reigning rival Max Verstappen with the fastest time in Practice 1 of the French Grand Prix.

Leclerc clocked 1:33.930 for Ferrari at Circuit Paul Ricard in Le Castellet to edge Verstappen’s Red Bull by less than a tenth of a second, building on the momentum he created winning in Austria two weeks ago.

Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz, who faces a grid penalty in Sunday’s race after taking a new Control Electronics following his engine failure in Austria, finished third.

Almost a full second behind Leclerc in fourth was George Russell for Mercedes, who was without Lewis Hamilton for the opening session as Nyck de Vries replaced the seven-time world champion to fulfill young driver testing obligations for the team.

Red Bull's Sergio Perez was lucky to avoid the wall after getting lost in early practice ahead of the French Grand Prix

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Red Bull’s Sergio Perez was lucky to avoid the wall after getting lost in early practice ahead of the French Grand Prix

Red Bull’s Sergio Perez was lucky to avoid the wall after getting lost in early practice ahead of the French Grand Prix

Pierre Gasly took a surprise fifth for AlphaTauri as he impressed on his home run, while Sergio Perez’s other Red Bull finished sixth after narrowly avoiding the wall after a dramatic spin at turn 3.

Lando Norris was seventh for McLaren, with Alex Albon delivering an eighth for Williams.

Leclerc’s performance offered further encouragement for Ferrari after the Monegasque ended a seven-race winless streak last time out in Austria to reduce Verstappen’s world championship lead to 38 points.

However, as Ferrari once again displayed impressive pace, there were reminders of the reliability issues that have plagued the Italian team’s season.

Leclerc barely clung to victory in Austria as a throttle issue troubled him in the closing stages, and he was quick on the team radio on Friday to complain about an engine-related problem. accelerator.

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There was also confirmation midway through Friday’s first session that Sainz would face a 10-place grid penalty on Sunday, which could be increased if the Spaniard chooses to replace other engine parts.

Red Bull were not without problems either, as Verstappen needed to tape the body of his car in the closing stages, following close inspection by the team’s technical director, Adrian Newey.

There was reason to be optimistic for Verstappen as it was only a poor – and clearly upgradable – final sector that saw him beaten by Leclerc.

Wolff: Merc’s performance ‘disappointing’

Toto Wolff says that Mercedes

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Toto Wolff says Mercedes ‘not where they want to be’ after French GP P1 and discusses Nyck de Vries exit in Lewis Hamilton’s car

Toto Wolff says Mercedes ‘not where they want to be’ after French GP P1 and discusses Nyck de Vries exit in Lewis Hamilton’s car

Expectations were high for Mercedes heading into Friday, with the fluid nature and layout of Circuit Paul Ricard set to suit the Silver Arrows, who have shown signs of improvement in recent weeks.

However, with Hamilton watching from the garage, Russell could only manage a time just under a second slower than Leclerc, while De Vries was half a second slower in ninth.

Speaking to Sky Sports F1 immediately after the session, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff admitted he was disappointed with the car’s lack of pace.

Mercedes reserve driver Nyck de Vries takes to the track, as he replaces Lewis Hamilton for early practice ahead of the French GP

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Mercedes reserve driver Nyck de Vries takes to the track, as he replaces Lewis Hamilton for early practice ahead of the French GP

Mercedes reserve driver Nyck de Vries takes to the track, as he replaces Lewis Hamilton for early practice ahead of the French GP

“(It was) not where we wanted to be,” Wolff said. “We are trying a lot of games but we are just lacking rhythm at the moment in free practice.

“We have some aerodynamic changes on the floor, on the side edges – small things that should improve it.

“It’s just the start, but the performance in FP1 was a bit disappointing. We don’t seem to be extracting enough from it, so we’ll do some comparisons and see what that gives us in the afternoon.”

Hamilton will return to his car for the second practice, which is live on Sky Sports F1 at 16.


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