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GP of France: Valtteri Bottas leads the response of Mercedes in the first test in front of Lewis Hamilton


Valtteri Bottas 0.3s faster than Lewis Hamilton, with Max Versappen a tenth behind in third as Mercedes start a crucial weekend ahead of Red Bull; Esteban Ocon and Daniel Ricciardo leading the chasing pack

Last updated: 06/18/21 11:47 AM

Mercedes got off to a good start to their crucial French GP weekend by edging championship leaders Red Bull in the opening practice, with Valtteri Bottas leading Lewis Hamilton in a one-two.

In the unusual position of arriving at a Grand Prix on the back foot, Mercedes – desperate to regain the form they had missed on the Monaco and Baku city circuits – appear to have a much more competitive W12 car on the more traditional circuit. of Paul Ricard. in the south of France, which should host a much closer battle at the front.

And it was Bottas, pointless since the Spanish GP in mid-May, who extracted the most pace from the car as the Finnish driver beat Hamilton by three tenths of a second in a session of opening Friday.

Max Verstappen was a tenth more in third for Red Bull, although he was faster than anyone in the first two sectors, hinting at more pace in an RB16 which has been fast on all tracks this season.

GP of France: Valtteri Bottas leads the response of Mercedes in the first test in front of Lewis Hamilton

GP of France: Valtteri Bottas leads the response of Mercedes in the first test in front of Lewis Hamilton 1:43
Sebastian Vettel of Aston Martin spins and hits the barriers in the opposite direction during practice 1 before the French Grand Prix.

Sebastian Vettel of Aston Martin spins and hits the barriers in the opposite direction during practice 1 before the French Grand Prix.

Verstappen, who still holds a four-point championship lead over Hamilton despite falling in Baku, was clearly frustrated on team radio as he struggled for balance in the last sector.

Azerbaijani GP winner Sergio Perez finished fourth, although not far from the slower hard tire, with Red Bull looking to strengthen their 26-point title lead this weekend.

More soon.

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