F2 France: Norris leads Russell and Gunther in Paul Ricard practice

McLaren Formula 1 junior Lando Norris set the fastest time in Formula 2 practice at Paul Ricard ahead of George Russell and Maxi Gunther

Carlin driver Norris - who currently tops the F2 drivers' standings and has been linked with approaches from three F1 teams - led for the majority of the 45-minute session.

He recorded a 1m45.562s early on, which was good enough to lead the times throughout despite the lap including a moment at the long Turn 11 right-hander.

Norris, making the most of a new engine he has available for this round, was followed by Mercedes junior Russell, who is hoping to rebound after crashing twice in Monaco last time out.

The drivers topping the session all set their times relatively early on, and few in the field improved as the action went on with the circuit temperature exceeding 45 degrees centigrade.

The last of the top five pace-setters to record his fastest lap was Gunther, who stole third with 22 minutes remaining in the 45-minute session.

Gunther was also quick at the previous round in Monaco, but had his qualifying lap there nullified and he was sent to the back of the grid for missing the weighing scales.

Prema Racing's Nyck de Vries - also a McLaren junior - took fourth, while Louis Deletraz (Charouz Racing System) rounded out the top five in practice for a race the Swiss driver has described as "almost a home round".

Alexander Albon finished the session in sixth place, returning to the action late on to set his best time after a throttle sensor problem cost him track time.

At the 13-minute mark, his car appeared to go into safe mode and he had to crawl around the track to return to the pits, and didn't re-join until nine minutes remained in the session.

Artem Markelov - one spot ahead of Albon in second in the title standings - had his session ended with 22 minutes remaining due to a spin at Turn 6 left hander at the top end of the track.

The Russian Time driver had been ninth overall at that point, and only dropped one spot to round out the top 10.

Instead, the closest driver to Albon was Luca Ghiotto, heading Russell's ART Grand Prix team-mate Jack Aitken and Campos Racing's Roy Nissany, who is the only F2 driver yet to score a point so far this season.

Practice results

Pos Driver Team Gap Laps
1 Lando Norris Carlin 1m45.562s 20
2 George Russell ART Grand Prix 0.083s 19
3 Maximilian Guenther BWT Arden 0.138s 21
4 Nyck de Vries Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing 0.226s 17
5 Louis Deletraz Charouz Racing System 0.543s 18
6 Alexander Albon DAMS 0.559s 13
7 Luca Ghiotto Campos Vexatec Racing 0.784s 18
8 Jack Aitken ART Grand Prix 0.808s 19
9 Roy Nissany Campos Vexatec Racing 0.861s 20
10 Artem Markelov RUSSIAN TIME 0.921s 10
11 Antonio Fuoco Charouz Racing System 0.930s 17
12 Sergio Sette Camara Carlin 0.990s 19
13 Roberto Merhi MP Motorsport 1.097s 18
14 Santino Ferrucci Trident 1.105s 16
15 Sean Gelael Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing 1.306s 17
16 Nicholas Latifi DAMS 1.347s 18
17 Ralph Boschung MP Motorsport 1.464s 16
18 Arjun Maini Trident 1.580s 19
19 Tadasuke Makino RUSSIAN TIME 1.856s 16
20 Nirei Fukuzumi BWT Arden 2.062s 18

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