F1 French GP: Leclerc edges Verstappen in Paul Ricard FP1

Charles Leclerc narrowly topped the first Formula 1 practice session ahead of the 2022 French Grand Prix as Red Bull’s defending champion Max Verstappen split the two Ferraris.

F1 French GP: Leclerc edges Verstappen in Paul Ricard FP1

Leclerc surged to the top of the times in the final third of the hour-long FP1 to eclipse his chief championship rival by a slender 0.09s as Carlos Sainz completed the top three.

George Russell, meanwhile, ran to fourth in the Mercedes W13 - which this weekend debuts a revised nose cooling duct - as track temperatures crept towards 60 degrees Celcius.

His seven-time champion team-mate Lewis Hamilton, however, watched the session alongside team boss Toto Wolff from the pit garage to make way for F1 rookie Nyck de Vries.

It had been Verstappen that comfortably set the pace during the first round of quick laps, the Red Bull driver sitting half a second clear of his team-mate courtesy of a benchmark 1m34.991s effort.

It had been Sainz that led Robert Kubica, replacing Valtteri Bottas in the Alfa Romeo, and Zhou Guanyu out onto the circuit with the Ferrari driver initially clocking a 1m39.577s lap.

But that was swiftly brought down by Kevin Magnussen and then Lando Norris, who posted a 1m37.604s despite complaining of a spongey feeling throttle pedal.

Leclerc improved to a 1m37.420s before Verstappen, keeping to practice form in 2022, blew the bankers away at his first attempt as he ran to a 1m35.727s to find 1.6s over the Ferrari.

Perez romped around 0.4s adrift, both RB18s sporting a pair of the red-walled C4 soft tyres, while the updated McLaren MCL36 enjoyed running 3-4 - Daniel Ricciardo leading Norris.

Verstappen then circulated to his 1m34.991s to end the opening gambit on top, initially extracting 1.1s over Perez to allow an improved Leclerc to swiftly split the Red Bull pair.

Leclerc, who sits 38 points adrift of Verstappen, was then immediately relegated by Perez, the Monaco GP winner responding to the Scuderia threat by closing to within 0.5s of his stablemate.

But the Mexican would soon suffer a high-speed spin at Turn 3 when he collected too much inside kerb to unsettle the car, locking all four tyres as he slowed to narrowly miss the wall.

After a mid-session lull, with 30 mins to run Verstappen emerged with a shiny new set of soft Pirellis to lower the times to 1m34.346s thanks to a particularly strong first sector.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18

Photo by: Motorsport Images

But Ferrari soon found an answer as Sainz buzzed the line in 1m34.268s to find eight hundredths over his Red Bull rival, the F1-75 doing its heavy lifting in the final sector.

Verstappen responded with 21 minutes to go, planting a 1m34.021s yardstick but he left time on the table by running wide over the Turn 12 exit kerb after suffering understeer on turn-in.

Read Also:

The Dutch ace would also note slow gearshifts, although this appeared to be linked to him clattering the kerbs out of Turn 8-9 chicane.

Those brief moments left the door ajar for Leclerc to nail a 1mm33.930s – the only driver to lap under the 1m34s.

With drivers sticking to the now scrubbed Pirellis for the remainder of the hour, the Monegasque preserved his 0.09s advantage over Verstappen to claim the first bragging rights.

Sainz ended up 0.3s off his pacesetting team-mate and will now endure at least a 10-place grid penalty after taking his third control electronics package of the season.

Surpassing the upper limit of two as a legacy of his catastrophic Austria GP engine fire, like Leclerc at Montreal, a further hit could come his way should Ferrari change more engine parts as the event wears on.

Russell, meanwhile, was best of the rest in fourth. The Briton ran 0.9s adrift with the W13 notably lifting its inside wheel as a result of the stiff set-up to combat porpoising.

Pierre Gasly put the first significant upgrade of the campaign for AlphaTauri to good use by running to fifth and pipping Perez.

It continued to be a messy session for Mexican, who straightlined the chicane and had to briefly stop at the Red Bull garage after his visor tear-off was caught in the right-rear suspension.

The RB18 also sports modifications for Paul Ricard, thanks to a revised floor - with Adrian Newey getting on his hands and knees to inspect Verstappen’s bargeboard late on.

Norris ran the tweaked McLaren (notable for its new sidepods) to seventh ahead of Alex Albon’s Williams, while Formula 2 and Formula E champion de Vries ended up ninth - having ran wide early on to risk floor damage.

Ricciardo completed the top 10 over Zhou, Lance Stroll, Esteban Ocon and Sebastian Vettel.

Behind Fernando Alonso in 15th, back-to-back points scorer Mick Schumacher edged ahead of Haas stablemate Magnussen as Tsunoda, Kubica and Nicholas Latifi completed the order.

 

F1 French GP: Full FP1 result

Cla Driver Chassis Laps Time Gap
1 Monaco Charles Leclerc Ferrari 23 1'33.930  
2 Netherlands Max Verstappen Red Bull 19 1'34.021 0.091
3 Spain Carlos Sainz Ferrari 21 1'34.268 0.338
4 United Kingdom George Russell Mercedes 25 1'34.881 0.951
5 France Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 21 1'34.979 1.049
6 Mexico Sergio Perez Red Bull 21 1'35.174 1.244
7 United Kingdom Lando Norris McLaren 21 1'35.232 1.302
8 Thailand Alex Albon Williams 24 1'35.414 1.484
9 Netherlands Nyck de Vries Mercedes 23 1'35.426 1.496
10 Australia Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 21 1'35.660 1.730
11 China Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 21 1'35.676 1.746
12 Canada Lance Stroll Aston Martin 19 1'35.810 1.880
13 France Esteban Ocon Alpine 21 1'35.828 1.898
14 Germany Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 24 1'35.851 1.921
15 Spain Fernando Alonso Alpine 22 1'35.875 1.945
16 Germany Mick Schumacher Haas 19 1'36.022 2.092
17 Denmark Kevin Magnussen Haas 22 1'36.104 2.174
18 Japan Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 26 1'36.127 2.197
19 Poland Robert Kubica Alfa Romeo 19 1'36.332 2.402
20 Canada Nicholas Latifi Williams 23 1'37.043 3.113

 

 

shares
comments
Sainz's Austria "zero" came as he was getting 'F1 title hopes back up'
Previous article

Sainz's Austria "zero" came as he was getting 'F1 title hopes back up'

Next article

FIA facing rebellion over 2023 F1 floor changes

FIA facing rebellion over 2023 F1 floor changes
The time-honoured manufacturer model that can't apply to all F1 teams Plus

The time-honoured manufacturer model that can't apply to all F1 teams

What happens, asks MATT KEW, if the old adage of win on a Sunday, sell on a Monday is no longer true for F1 manufacturers?

Why is Oscar Piastri F1's most sought-after rookie? Plus

Why is Oscar Piastri F1's most sought-after rookie?

The Australian rising star is fast, consistent, confident, adaptable and has shown excellent racecraft, but there’s already a taint to his reputation. That hasn’t stopped him becoming the hottest property in this year’s F1 driver market and why McLaren moved fast to snap up the 21-year-old

Formula 1
Sep 30, 2022
The unintended benefit that F1's new engine rules era will deliver Plus

The unintended benefit that F1's new engine rules era will deliver

Formula 1's incoming engine rules shake-up has multiple targets. But it may also solve what has been a bone of contention since the hybrids arrived in 2014. The new plan will allow the series to pump up the volume

Formula 1
Sep 29, 2022
How de Vries made himself impossible to ignore for a belated F1 chance Plus

How de Vries made himself impossible to ignore for a belated F1 chance

Nyck de Vries appeared to have missed his opportunity to break into Formula 1 as he was passed over for more exciting talents who have now become frontrunners and title fighters. But after catching the eye outside of the F1 sphere, before his stunning impromptu grand prix debut in Italy, will it lead to a delayed full-time race seat?

Formula 1
Sep 29, 2022
Can Hamilton produce another Singapore magic moment? Plus

Can Hamilton produce another Singapore magic moment?

The Singapore Grand Prix has, explains BEN EDWARDS, played an important role in Lewis Hamilton’s Formula 1 career. As the series returns to the Marina Bay Street Circuit for the first time in three years, he faces the latest challenge with an underperforming Mercedes car

Formula 1
Sep 28, 2022
Why Sainz is key to Ferrari achieving its chairman's F1 goals Plus

Why Sainz is key to Ferrari achieving its chairman's F1 goals

Although Ferrari's chances of title glory in 2022 have evaporated, chairman John Elkann expects the team to have chalked up both championships by 2026. Both require drivers to play the team game and, having now become more comfortable with the F1-75, Carlos Sainz may be Ferrari's key to title glory

Formula 1
Sep 27, 2022
How F1 has tried to avoid repeating its 2014 engine rules mistakes Plus

How F1 has tried to avoid repeating its 2014 engine rules mistakes

With Formula 1’s future engine regulations now agreed, MARK GALLAGHER wonders if they will provide a more competitive field than past attempts actually managed

Formula 1
Sep 26, 2022
How its faltering first turbo car advanced a Williams-Honda glory era Plus

How its faltering first turbo car advanced a Williams-Honda glory era

STUART CODLING charts the development of the Williams FW09, the ugly duckling that heralded the start of the title-winning Williams-Honda partnership

Formula 1
Sep 25, 2022