2022 French Grand Prix FP1 report and highlights: Leclerc beats Verstappen for fastest time in French GP practice opening

French Grand Prix weekend Charles Leclerc got off to a strong start as he beat championship rival Max Verstappen with the fastest time in opening practice at Circuit Paul Ricard.

The Ferrari driver clocked 1m 33.930secs on the soft tire to finish 0.091secs ahead of Red Bull, but Verstappen lost nearly a tenth of a second straight at Turn 11 on his best lap.

Carlos Sainz was more than 0.3 seconds off the lead in third, and the Spaniard faces a tough weekend after Ferrari installed new control electronics on his F1-75 which led to a 10-point penalty.

Read more: Sainz set for grid penalty at 10 spots in France after taking on new engine component

The three tire compounds were shown in the opening 60-minute session of the weekend, as teams assessed how Pirelli rubber is coping with the heat wave now roaming Europe. The track temperatures reached 58 degrees Celsius.

1


Charles
Leclerc
LEC
Ferrari

1: 33.930

2


the above
Verstappen
VER
Red Bull Racing

+ 0.091 seconds

3


Carlos
Signs
Supreme Authority for Financial Control and Accountability
Ferrari

+ 0.338 seconds

4


George
contact
Russians
mercedes

+ 0.951 seconds

5


Pierre
flirtatious
Gas
AlphaTauri

+ 1.049 seconds

Bringing updates to France, Mercedes was within a second of the fastest times, thanks to George Russell, as team reserve Nick de Vries borrowed Lewis Hamilton’s car for FP1 and ended up ninth, half a second back.

It was the first time in Hamilton’s career – which culminated in a 300-week Grand Prix in France – that he gave up his car for an FP1 session. The rules state that every driver must do so at least once this season, and the seven-time world champion, who watched the event from a Mercedes garage alongside his coach Toto Wolff, chose to step down this week.

Once this happens: follow all the procedures from the first practice of the French Grand Prix

AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda are screaming for upgrades, having received new parts again at the fourth race at Imola, and they’ve been rewarded in Paul Ricard.

Early signs are positive, with Pierre Gasly just a second off the lead in fifth in his home race – but Tsunoda was down 18th, more than two seconds off the final sprint.

Sergio Perez was spinning a bit in Turn 4 before continuing, the Mexican sixth, ahead of McLaren pioneer Lando Norris, whose team brought in more new parts than any other team this weekend.

2022 French GP FP1: Perez discovers his tires on the big turn of Turn 4

The Briton wasn’t running them in FP1, though, as McLaren ran some back-to-back testing with Daniel Ricciardo – who finished 10th – and got a chance to try them out.

Alex Albon was a good eighth for Williams, more than 1.5 seconds ahead of teammate Nicholas Latifi, who was running the new upgrade package for the first time but ended up in 20th overall.

Zhou Guanyu was the flagship of Alfa Romeo in 11th place, ahead of Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll and home favorite Esteban Ocon in the Alps, with Sebastian Vettel – who took 100 year old Aston Martin To circle Paul Ricard on Thursday – the 14th.

Double world champion Fernando Alonso was 15th, ahead of the Haas duo of Mick Schumacher and Kevin Magnussen, who are still waiting for their first updates of the season, with Robert Kubica – borrowed Valtteri Bottas’ car for FP1-19.

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