Valtteri Bottas has topped the times in the first practice session at Paul Ricard. The Mercedes driver set a 1:33.448 on the soft compound Pirellis during a hot and sunny morning in the south of France.
Bottas had to recover from an early error when he ran wide exiting Turn 2. Running into the escape area, Bottas scraped over the kerbing lining the corner and damaged the underside of his front wing as a result. He came back to the pits for a fresh wing before heading back out.
Lewis Hamilton finished second, 0.335 behind his teammate on the same compound in what was an otherwise quiet session for the World Champion.
Max Verstappen, who headed out on track covered in flow-viz paint at the start of the session, finished in third place. His best time was a tenth off Hamilton's, and 0.4 away from Bottas, and the Dutch driver was vocal on team radio about being unhappy with the handling of his Red Bull.
Sergio Perez finished in fourth in the second Red Bull, three tenths away from what Verstappen managed. The Mexican picked up a fine during the session for speeding in the pitlane as he went out on track at the green light.
Celebrating his new contract with the team, Alpine's Esteban Ocon finished in fifth place, with McLaren's Daniel Ricciardo in seventh ahead of the other Alpine of Fernando Alonso.
AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly was eighth, with Lando Norris in ninth for McLaren and AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda rounding out the top ten.
Result Free practice 1 - French
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Despite the warm and sunny conditions, there were plenty of off-track moments for many of the drivers. With crosswinds seeming to catch several out, Ferrari's Carlos Sainz and Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel both had huge offs at De Beausset, with Vettel ending up hitting the barriers backwards and needing to return to the pits for rear wing repairs.
Haas' Mick Schumacher spun off on his very first lap out of the pits, needing to come back into the pits for checks after hitting the right front against the barriers.
Yuki Tsunoda was another spinner, losing the rear of his car as he accelerated out of the final corner to start a hotlap. Fortunately, he didn't damage the car and was able to continue.