French GP FP1 Report: Lewis Hamilton Ahead of Max Verstappen as Mercedes Top the F1 Timing Sheets

Published 06/18/2021, 6:34 AM EDT
Formula One F1 – French Grand Prix – Circuit Paul Ricard, Le Castellet, France – June 18, 2021 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton during practice REUTERS/Yves Herman


Drivers took to the Circuit Paul Ricard for the first time in 2 years during the first practice session today. While some drivers struggled on this challenging track, Mercedes and Red Bull continued their battle at the top of the timesheets.

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While the midfield challengers laid down their markers, a new driver took part in this session for Williams.

Mercedes top the timesheets, with Red Bull close behind in the French GP

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If there is one team that needs to get the most out of this weekend, it is Mercedes. And the Silver Arrows did not disappoint as both drivers finished 1st and 2nd on the timesheets.

Valtteri Bottas, who has a point to prove to Mercedes this weekend, topped the session ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton.

Although the Finn struggled at the start of the session, where he ran wide at Turn 2 and damaged the front wing, he put a solid lap on soft tires to top the session. Hamilton finished within three-tenths of his teammate.

Formula One F1 – French Grand Prix – Circuit Paul Ricard, Le Castellet, France – June 18, 2021 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton during practice REUTERS/Yves Herman

Verstappen finished third, just 0.4s behind Bottas while his teammate, Sergio Perez, finished fourth. Esteban Ocon celebrated his new contract extension till 2024 with a P5 finish, ahead of Daniel Ricciardo and his teammate Fernando Alonso in P7.

Baku podium sitter Pierre Gasly finished P8 ahead of Lando Norris, outlining AlphaTauri‘s potential this weekend. Yuki Tsunoda rounded up the Top-10.

Vettel struggles as Nissany makes his debut

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Aston Martin endured a difficult session, with Sebastian Vettel crashing into the barriers early on. The German eventually finished P15, behind his teammate Lance Stroll in P14.

Formula One F1 – French Grand Prix – FIA Press Conference – Circuit Paul Ricard, Le Castellet, France – June 17, 2021 Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel during the press conference FIA/Handout via REUTERS

Ferrari also struggled this afternoon, with Charles Leclerc finishing P11 and Carlos Sainz P16. While George Russell sat out the session, test driver Roy Nissany took his place. He finished P20, while Nikita Mazepin finished ahead of Mick Schumacher in P18 and P19, respectively.

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While FP1 is more often a session where drivers settle in, Mercedes have laid down the challenge for Red Bull. Do you think they can come up big?

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Sanket Nair

323 articles

Sanket Nair is an F1 Author at EssentiallySports. A Sports Management student, he is a huge fan of Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo and hopes to see Red Bull break Mercedes' dominance and win the World Championship soon. Sanket has been hooked to the sport ever since he watched the battle for the 2010 World Championship go down to the wire at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

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