2022 French Grand Prix FP1 report and highlights: Leclerc beats Verstappen to fastest time in opening French GP practice

2022 French Grand Prix FP1 report and highlights: Leclerc beats Verstappen to fastest time in opening French GP practice

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

The Ferrari driver clocked 1m 33.930s on the soft tire to finish just 0.091s ahead of Red Bull, but Verstappen lost around two-tenths of a second at Turn 11 on his best lap.

Carlos Sainz was more than 0.3 seconds off the pace in third, the Spaniard facing a difficult weekend after Ferrari fitted new control electronics to his F1-75 triggering a 10-place grid penalty.

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

All three tire compounds were featured in the opening 60-minute session of the weekend, as the teams evaluated how the Pirelli rubber coped with the heat wave that is cruising across Europe right now. The track temperature reached 58 degrees Celsius.

1


Charles
Leclerc
LEC
Ferrari

1:33,930

2


Max
Verstappen
VER
Red Bull Racing

+0.091s

3


Carlos
Sainz
SAI
Ferrari

+0.338s

4


George
Russell
INTOXICATION
Mercedes

+0.951s

5


Pierre
Gas shelter
GAS
AlphaTauri

+1,049p

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

This was the first time in Hamilton’s career – which hits 300 Grand Prix weekends in France – that he has given up his car for an FP1 session. The rules require every driver to do it at least once this season and the seven-time world champion, who watched the action from the Mercedes garage alongside boss Toto Wolff, opted this weekend to step aside.

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

AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda have been clamoring for upgrades, after receiving new parts at race four at Imola, and they have been rewarded at Paul Ricard.

The early signs are positive, with Pierre Gasly just a second off the pace in fifth place in his home race – but Tsunoda was down to 18th, more than two seconds off the ultimate pace.

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

French GP FP1 2022: Pérez sees flat tires in big turn 4 spin

However, the Briton did not drive them in FP1, as McLaren did some back-to-back testing with Daniel Ricciardo – who finished 10th – and was given the chance to try them.

Alex Albon was a fine eighth for Williams, more than 1.5s ahead of teammate Nicholas Latifi, who ran the new upgrade package for the first time, but finished 20th overall.

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

Double 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 – 19th.

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