Mercedes dominate French Grand Prix practice

Last Updated 22 June 2019, 08:35 IST

Formula One championship leader Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas set the pace in free practice for the French Grand Prix on Friday.

Ferrari, awaiting the outcome of a meeting with stewards that could ultimately see Sebastian Vettel reinstated as winner of the June 9 Canadian Grand Prix, were once again the best of the rest.

Hamilton, who arrived late on Thursday after attending a memorial for fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld in Paris, lapped Le Castellet's Paul Ricard circuit in one minute 32.738 seconds in the first session, with Bottas second.

The Finn turned the tables on the five times champion in the afternoon, laying down a lap of 1:30.937 to push Hamilton into second place, 0.424 slower.

Hamilton ended the session under investigation for an incident with Red Bull's Max Verstappen in which the Briton ran off track and rejoined ahead of the Dutch youngster.

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc was third fastest in both sessions, with Vettel fifth and fourth respectively on a sunny day in the south of France.

Mercedes have won all seven races so far this season but that could change if stewards accept what Ferrari say is 'overwhelming' new evidence that Vettel did nothing in Canada to warrant a five-second penalty.

The German finished first in the race from pole position but a five-second penalty added to his time after the chequered flag handed the win to Hamilton.

Verstappen was fourth in the morning, his car benefiting from a Honda engine upgrade, but slipped to sixth after lunch.

French driver Romain Grosjean missed much of the first session, completing just nine laps, after a water leak to his Haas.

Mercedes are favourites to chalk up their 10th win in a row this weekend, and eighth of the season, at a track where Hamilton won from pole last year when the French Grand Prix returned after a decade's absence.

Hamilton leads Bottas by 29 points in the standings.

(Published 22 June 2019, 08:35 IST)

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