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Charles Leclerc

Leclerc edges out Verstappen as French GP weekend begins

F1 title rivals Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen were closely matched during Friday's first practice session for the French Grand Prix.

Leclerc France
To news overview © XPB

Charles Leclerc pipped Max Verstappen to the fastest time during Friday's first free practice session at the French Grand Prix.

Baking hot temperatures greeted the drivers for the opening 60-minute session at the Circuit Paul Ricard, with tyre degradation expected to play a crucial role throughout the weekend.

It was the Soft compound that Ferrari driver Leclerc used to post the benchmark FP1 time of 1:33.930, putting him 0.091s clear of Red Bull rival Verstappen.

However, reigning World Champion Verstappen seemingly lost a chunk of time during his best lap, having run wildly wide at Turn 11 after going purple through the first two sectors.

Carlos Sainz, who will take a grid penalty for power unit changes, followed teammate Leclerc in third, with a sizeable gap back to the rest of the field.

Result Free practice 1 - French

# Driver Team Time Tyre
Results are being loaded...

Mercedes 'best of the rest' in first practice

George Russell was fourth for Mercedes, the best part of a second back, as the Silver Arrows continue their efforts to close in on Ferrari and Red Bull.

Rather than Lewis Hamilton, Formula 2 and Formula E title winner Nyck de Vries joined Russell on-track in FP1, as one of the 'young driver' sessions all teams are required to complete in 2022.

De Vries, who previously appeared with Williams at the Spanish GP, slotted into ninth position, half a second off the time posted by regular driver Russell.

Sitting between them, Pierre Gasly recovered from early power unit complaints to place fifth in his heavily-updated AlphaTauri, with the other Red Bull of Sergio Perez in sixth and McLaren's Lando Norris in seventh.

Perez had a couple of off-track excursions in a scruffy session, while Norris also complained about the feeling of his throttle pedal – coinciding with the return of the 'pedal cam' for this weekend's action.

Albon gets his Williams in the top 10

Alex Albon and Williams continued their upward trajectory with the eighth-quickest time, some 1.5 seconds off the pace set by Leclerc.

Daniel Ricciardo rounded out the top 10 for McLaren, with Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin, Alpine and Haas all having low-key starts to the weekend in the bottom half.

Yuki Tsunoda was just over a second slower than teammate Gasly en route to 18th, with Nicholas Latifi also a long way off Albon in 20th and last.

In 19th, Robert Kubica made his second FP1 outing of the season for Alfa Romeo (in place of Valtteri Bottas), gathering valuable data in his role as test and reserve driver.

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F1 2022 French Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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