Lewis Hamilton dominates second French Grand Prix practice
French Grand Prix - FP2

Lewis Hamilton dominates second French Grand Prix practice

22/06/2018

Lewis Hamilton kept Mercedes top of the order in second practice for the French Grand Prix with 0.7s in hand over the next quickest car.

Hamilton set a 1:32.539 on the ultra-soft tyre, the softest and quickest tyre in this weekend's range. The reigning world champion had topped the opening session of the weekend at Paul Ricard, which is hosting an official F1 weekend for the first time since 1990. As they had in FP1 drivers continued to struggle with multiple areas of the circuit, which features a huge array of run-off areas due to its recent use as a test circuit.

With Valtteri Bottas' session ended prematurely by a water leak in his car, the Red Bulls finished best of the rest behind Hamilton, with Daniel Ricciardo edging Max Verstappen by 0.032s. Kimi Raikkonen was the quickest Ferrari in fourth, 0.8s off the pace, while Sebastian Vettel was a further 0.3s adrift. Although the final timing screens suggest a big gap to Mercedes -- which is set to reveal after the session whether its new engines are the same as its previous spec or a brand new upgrade -- Ferrari's pace at the Canadian Grand Prix two weeks ago should stop anyone from reading too much into its position at the conclusion of FP2.

Haas completed an encouraging day, with Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen finishing either side of seventh-placed Bottas, who completed just seven laps before the issue which ended his afternoon was detected, and eighth-placed Fernando Alonso. After two difficult race weekends Haas hopes to move back up to the top of the midfield fight, with team boss Guenther Steiner predicting the Paul Ricard circuit will be a better test of the upgrade package it introduced in Montreal -- early running would suggest the team has good reason to be optimistic.

The top ten appearance for Alonso will be a welcome boost for McLaren, who have spent the opening days of this race weekend denying media reports of unrest back at its U.K. factory over its continued lack of pace. Despite an encouraging afternoon, the newly-crowned Le Mans 24 Hours champion's afternoon finished with a spin down at Turn 5.

Toro Rosso's Pierre Gasly rounded out the top ten, while Renault's Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz finished 11th and 12th ahead of its home race. Stoffel Vandoorne was 13th in the other McLaren. Sauber's Charles Leclerc was 14th as he completed 33 valuable laps for Sauber, who were forced to run just one car after Marcus Ericsson's heavy crash at the end of FP1 earlier in the day. Brendon Hartley was 15th for Toro Rosso, although his car slowed to a halt in the closing ten minutes.

Esteban Ocon finished in 16th ahead of Williams duo Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin. The other Force India of Sergio Perez was 19th, although his session was compromised by a bizarre moment which saw his right-rear tyre come loose during the middle sector. The incident prompted an extended red flag period in the session and appeared to hamper the team's qualifying simulations, possibly explaining why both pink cars finished so far down the order.

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