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 pioneering F1 car that preceded Lotus’s terminal decline Plus

The pioneering F1 car that preceded Lotus’s terminal decline

In the hands of Ayrton Senna the actively suspended 99T would be the last F1 race-winning Lotus but, as STUART CODLING reveals, it was a complicated machine that caused more problems than it solved

Formula 1
Feb 5, 2023
How Tyrrell became a racing Rubik’s cube as it faded out of F1 Plus

How Tyrrell became a racing Rubik’s cube as it faded out of F1

Formula 1’s transformation into a global sport meant the gradual extinction for a small team determined to stay true to its low-budget roots. But Tyrrell would eventually be reborn as a world-beating outfit again, explains MAURICE HAMILTON, albeit in different colours…

Formula 1
Feb 4, 2023
Assessing Hamilton's remarkable decade as a Mercedes F1 driver Plus

Assessing Hamilton's remarkable decade as a Mercedes F1 driver

Many doubted Lewis Hamilton’s move from McLaren to Mercedes for the 2013 Formula 1 season. But the journey he’s been on since has taken the Briton to new heights - and to a further six world championship titles

Formula 1
Feb 2, 2023
Why new look Haas is a litmus test for Formula 1’s new era Plus

Why new look Haas is a litmus test for Formula 1’s new era

OPINION: With teams outside the top three having struggled in Formula 1 in recent seasons, the rules changes introduced in 2022 should have more of an impact this season. How well Haas does, as the poster child for the kind of team that F1 wanted to be able to challenge at the front, is crucial

Formula 1
Feb 2, 2023
The Mercedes F1 pressure changes under 10 years of Toto Wolff Plus

The Mercedes F1 pressure changes under 10 years of Toto Wolff

OPINION: Although the central building blocks for Mercedes’ recent, long-lasting Formula 1 success were installed before he joined the team, Toto Wolff has been instrumental in ensuring it maximised its finally-realised potential after years of underachievement. The 10-year anniversary of Wolff joining Mercedes marks the perfect time to assess his work

Formula 1
Feb 1, 2023
The all-French F1 partnership that Ocon and Gasly hope to emulate Plus

The all-French F1 partnership that Ocon and Gasly hope to emulate

Alpine’s signing of Pierre Gasly alongside Esteban Ocon revives memories of a famous all-French line-up, albeit in the red of Ferrari, for BEN EDWARDS. Can the former AlphaTauri man's arrival help the French team on its path back to winning ways in a tribute act to the Prancing Horse's title-winning 1983?

Formula 1
Jan 31, 2023
How do the best races of F1 2022 stack up to 2021? Plus

How do the best races of F1 2022 stack up to 2021?

OPINION: A system to score all the grands prix from the past two seasons produces some interesting results and sets a standard that 2023 should surely exceed

Formula 1
Jan 31, 2023
Who were the fastest drivers in F1 2022? Plus

Who were the fastest drivers in F1 2022?

Who was the fastest driver in 2022? Everyone has an opinion, but what does the stopwatch say? Obviously, differing car performance has an effect on ultimate laptime – but it’s the relative speed of each car/driver package that’s fascinating and enlightening says ALEX KALINAUCKAS

Formula 1
Jan 30, 2023