Mercedes-Benz regains its place in France

Lewis Hamilton was very lucky that Max Verstappen was forced to retire in Azerbaijan. The Baku Street Circuit did not smile at them.

Here they are once again on the right track, ready for battle. This time, at the very indulgent Circuit Castellet in southern France.

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Single seats at Paul Ricard

Photo: Getty Images / NICOLAS TUCAT

The Briton started the weekend well with the second fastest time behind his teammate and ahead of Verstappen.

Valtteri Bottas clocked a first reference time of 1 minute 33 seconds and 448/1000 on the soft tires at the 33rd minute of the first session. He was three tenths of a second (0.335) ahead of the world champion.

Verstappen had to abort his last attempt, after missing a turn and drive on the pavement. Red Bull could have some damage to the flat bottom.

The Dutchman had warned his engineer a little earlier that the front axle did not want to turn.

Record a time of 1: 33.880 (+0.432).

Remember that in the drivers’ standings, Verstappen is four points ahead of Hamilton. Among the manufacturers, Red Bull is 26 points more than Mercedes-Benz (the victory is 25 points).

Vettel is in pain

After the euphoria of Sebastian Vettel’s second place in Baku, Aston Martin found the truth of the road circuits, and the drivers couldn’t do better than the two fastest times of 14 and 15, 1.8 seconds behind Mercedes-Benz.

Lance Stroll clocked in from 1:35.275 to Bottas’s 1.827 seconds.

In addition, Vettel hit the protective tires in the 17th minute of the session and damaged the rear wing of his car. He managed to return to the wells on his own.

Ontarian Nicholas Latifi scored 17th at Williams with a time of 1:35.612 (+2.164).

Rumors swirl that he could lose the wheel at the end of the season, as the Williams family who had hired him left the team and new management found him not making enough progress.

Audience return

The management of the Grand Prix de France has obtained permission from the French authorities to invite 15,000 spectators from Friday to Sunday.

There are three booths with 5,000 seats and the public is subject to a new health protocol with an individual code. Certifies that the person meets the conditions for vaccination or immunity or has been declared negative for COVID-19.

The French Grand Prix was canceled in 2020. It was introduced for one week in 2021, following the cancellation of the Canadian Grand Prix.

This season, F1 welcomed 7,500 spectators per day in Monaco at the end of May.

The start of a return to normal in the stands must be accompanied by a return to normal on the track, as confirmed by the results of the first tests.

Results of the first free training session:

  1. Valtteri Bottas (Vin/Mercedes-Benz) 1: 33.448 (24 laps)
  2. Lewis Hamilton (GB/Mercedes-Benz) 1: 33.783 (21)
  3. Max Verstappen (Netherlands / Red Bull-Honda) 1: 33880 (23)
  4. Sergio Perez (Mexico / Red Bull-Honda) 1: 34193 (25)
  5. Esteban Ocon (France / Alpine-Renault) 1:34,329 (25)
  6. Daniel Ricciardo (Australia / McLaren-Mercedes-Benz) 1: 34.644 (24)
  7. Fernando Alonso (Spain / Alpine – Renault) 1: 34693 (21)
  8. Pierre Gasly (FRA/AlphaTauri-Honda) 1:34,699 (20)
  9. Lando Norris (GBR/McLaren-Mercedes-Benz) 1:34,707 (21)
  10. Yuki Tsutaka (Japan / AlphaTauri-Honda) 1: 34847 (22)
  11. Charles Leclerc (MON/Ferrari) 1:34.950 (24)
  12. Antonio Giovinazzi (Italy/Alfa Romeo-Sauber-Ferrari) 1: 35116 (23)
  13. Kimi Raikkonen (FIN / Alfa Romeo-Sauber-Ferrari) 1: 35135 (20)
  14. Lance Stroll (Canada / Aston Martin-Mercedes) 1: 35.275 (23)
  15. Sebastian Vettel (Germany / Aston Martin-Mercedes-Benz) 1: 35298 (16)
  16. Carlos Sainz Fels (Spain / Ferrari) 1: 35342 (24)
  17. Nicholas Latifi (Canada/Williams-Mercedes-Benz) 1: 35612 (22)
  18. Nikita Mazepin (Russia / Haas-Ferrari) 1:36,651 (24)
  19. Mick Schumacher (Germany / Haas-Ferrari) 1: 37.329 (14)
  20. Roy Nisani (ISR/Williams Mercedes-Benz) 1:37881 (16)
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