FP1 report and 2022 French Grand Prix highlights: Leclerc beats Verstappen with fastest time in the opening practice session of the French GP

FP1 report and 2022 French Grand Prix highlights: Leclerc beats Verstappen with fastest time in the opening practice session of the French GP

Charles Leclerc’s French Grand Prix weekend got off to a strong start as he beat Championship rival Max Verstappen in opening practice at the Circuit Paul Ricard with the fastest time.

The Ferrari driver clocked 1m33.930s on the soft tire and finished just 0.091s ahead of the Red Bull, but Verstappen lost around two tenths of a second on his best lap at Turn 11 when he went too far.

Carlos Sainz was more than 0.3s off the pace in third, the Spaniard faces a difficult weekend after Ferrari fitted its F1-75 with new control electronics that trigger a 10-place penalty on the grid.

READ MORE: Sainz faced a 10-place penalty in France after taking a new engine component

All three tire compounds were on display in the weekend’s opening 60-minute session as teams assessed how the Pirelli rubber was coping with the heatwave currently sweeping Europe. The track temperatures reached 58 degrees Celsius.

1


Karl
Leclerc
LEC
Ferrari

1:33,930

2


Max
Verstappen
VER
Red Bull race

+0.091s

3


Carlos
Sainz
SAI
Ferrari

+0.338s

4


George
russell
RUS
Mercedes

+0.951s

5


Pierre
gassy
GAS
AlphaTauri

+1.049s

Mercedes, who brought updates to France, were within a second of the fastest time thanks to George Russell, with Nyck de Vries, the team’s reserve driver, borrowing Lewis Hamilton’s car for FP1 and finishing ninth, half a second down.

This was the first time in Hamilton’s career – which spans 300 French Grands Prix weekends – that he had abandoned his car for an FP1 session. The rules dictate that every driver must do so at least once this season and the seven-time world champion, who was watching the action from the Mercedes garage alongside boss Toto Wolff, decided to step aside this weekend.

HOW IT HAPPENED: Follow all the action from first practice for the French Grand Prix

AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda have been screaming for upgrades after receiving new parts last at Round Four at Imola and they were rewarded at Paul Ricard.

Early signs are positive, Pierre Gasly was just a second off pace in fifth at his home race – however, Tsunoda was down in 18th, more than two seconds off ultimate pace.

Sergio Perez had a small spin at Turn 4 before continuing as sixth Mexican, ahead of the leading McLaren of Lando Norris, whose team brought more new parts for the weekend than any other.

French GP FP1 2022: Pérez flattens his tires in a big spin at Turn 4

The Brit didn’t race them in FP1, however, as McLaren did some back-to-back testing with Daniel Ricciardo – who ended up tenth – and got a chance to try them.

Alex Albon was a good eighth for Williams, more than 1.5 seconds ahead of his teammate Nicholas Latifi, who was driving the new upgrade package for the first time but ended up 20th overall.

Zhou Guanyu was the leading Alfa Romeo in 11th, ahead of Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll and local favorite Esteban Ocon in the Alps, with Sebastian Vettel driving a 100-year-old Aston Martin for a lap on Thursday the 14th Circuit Paul Ricard turned .

Two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso was 15th, ahead of Haas duo Mick Schumacher and Kevin Magnussen, who are still awaiting their first updates of the season, with Robert Kubica – who is borrowing Valtteri Bottas’ car for FP1 – in 19th .

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