Bottas Leads The Way In France

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Valtteri Bottas was fastest on Friday at Circuit Paul Ricard in France. (Mercedes Photo)
Valtteri Bottas was fastest on Friday at Circuit Paul Ricard in France. (Mercedes Photo)

LE CASTELLET, France – Valtteri Bottas topped the Formula One practice charts on Friday afternoon at Circuit Paul Ricard.

Bottas’ best lap, 1:30.937, put him at the top of the overall practice charts by nearly half a second over his teammate and championship leader Lewis Hamilton.

“It was not easy in the beginning; everyone struggled in the morning because the track was much more slippery than usual,” said Bottas. “But the track ramped up quickly, I could feel big gains on a lap-by-lap basis, especially in the corners. The more the track improved, the better the balance of the car felt. Despite the balance issues, the car was quick out of the box which is always a good start. We’ve made good changes between the sessions and I felt much more comfortable in FP2, which is why the lap time was better. It’s really warm out there, and it will only get warmer, so tires are going to be on the limit, especially on Sunday. We still struggle with the balance over the course of the entire lap, so we’ll have a good look at the data tonight to see what we can improve for tomorrow.”

Hamilton, who was fastest in the first practice, had a rough afternoon compared to his teammate Bottas. He suffered through a four-wheel slide in turns three and four and came back onto the track in front of a fast closing Max Verstappen.

Verstappen was forced to go around the outside of Hamilton, running off track in the process. Stewards later confirmed they’d look into the incident between Hamilton and Verstappen.

Ferrari’s young gun Charles Leclerc was third fastest, .649 of a second slower than Bottas. Sebastian Vettel was fourth fastest in the second Ferrari, with the McLaren of Lando Norris coming home an impressive fifth fastest Friday.