Valtteri Bottas maintained Mercedes’ hold on top spot of the timesheets in free practice for the French Grand Prix, with the Finn beating team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who went quickest in the morning session, by more than four tenths of a second.
Bottas, who goes into the weekend second in the Drivers’ standings, set the pace early in the second session on medium compound tyres and following a move to softs for a performance run he lowered the benchmark to 1:30.937.
Hamilton might have been expected to challenge that time but the champion missed out on improving his early session best when he made a mistake during his performance run.
The Briton lost control of the rear of his car in Turn 3 and went wide through the corner. Recovering, he rejoined before Turn 5 just as Max Versrtappen arrived at the corner. The Red Bull driver took the turn but ran wide on exit. The FIA stewards announced that the incident would be investigated after the session.
Hamilton’s medium tyre time from early in the session was still good enough for him to hold onto P2 on the timesheets until the end of the session and he finished 0.225s ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc who mirrored his placing from the morning session. The Monegasque driver edged team-mate Sebastian Vettel out to fourth place by the slim margin of eight hundredths of a second.
After taking seventh and eighth places in the morning session McLaren continued its good start to the weekend as Lando Norris took fifth place in the afternoon, 0.945s behind Bottas but almost seven hundredths of a second ahead of Verstappen. The Dutch driver missed out on his initial performance run due to the Hamilton incident and then made a mistake on a second attempt.
Carlos Sainz was seventh in the second McLaren, almost four tenths behind Verstappen but 0.016s ahead of the second Red Bull of Pierre Gasly.
Behind the Frenchman, ninth place went to Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Räikkönen with Kevin Magnussen of Haas tenth on a time 1.852s behind Bottas.
2019 Formula One French Grand Prix – Free Practice 2
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 34 1:30.937
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 25 1:31.361 0.424
3 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 31 1:31.586 0.649
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 32 1:31.665 0.728
5 Lando Norris McLaren 31 1:31.882 0.945
6 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 29 1:32.049 1.112
7 Carlos Sainz McLaren 27 1:32.432 1.495
8 Pierre Gasly Red Bull Racing 29 1:32.448 1.511
9 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Racing 34 1:32.677 1.740
10 Kevin Magnussen Haas 30 1:32.789 1.852
11 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing 34 1:32.973 2.036
12 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 34 1:33.020 2.083
13 Alex Albon Toro Rosso 35 1:33.023 2.086
14 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 32 1:33.081 2.144
15 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 37 1:33.254 2.317
16 Sergio Perez Racing Point 30 1:33.300 2.363
17 Romain Grosjean Haas 27 1:33.591 2.654
18 Lance Stroll Racing Point 32 1:33.884 2.947
19 George Russell Williams 33 1:34.614 3.677
20 Robert Kubica Williams 32 1:35.195 4.258