Valtteri Bottas headed Lewis Hamilton during second practice for the French Grand Prix in boiling hot conditions, as many of the drivers struggled for grip, including championship leader Lewis Hamilton.
Bottas’ margin over team-mate Lewis Hamilton was 0.424, with the Finn setting a 1.30.937, however Hamilton’s lap wasn’t set during his qualifying simulation due to his error, hence that gap is expected to be closed right down come qualifying day.
The Ferrari’s struggled after their strong-showing, with both Leclerc and Vettel more than half a second adrift of Bottas’ flyer.
Story of the session
The session got underway in burning-hot conditions, with Daniil Kvyat first to take to circuit in the Toro Rosso, with Grosjean following suit in the Haas. The first time of the session came by the Russian, which was a 1.35.683, whilst Grosjean massively locked up on his first flyer, and had to back straight off on his fast lap. The Alfa Romeo’s soon took to track, and former Ferrari driver Raikkonen went to the top of the order with a 1.34.486s, with his team-mate slotting into third place. Norris soon went to the top in the McLaren, but the midfield pack were struggling to break the 1 minute-34s barrier.
As the front-runners took to track, Leclerc just about went fastest with a 1.33.152s, however was just 0.091s clear of McLaren’s Lando Norris. Meanwhile, Vettel had to abort his flying lap due to the traffic that held him up. On his next lap, Vettel easily went fastest with a 1.32.763, which set him three tenths clear of his team-mate.
As the Mercedes took to circuit, Bottas went straight to the top of the order with a 1.32.478, with Hamilton only fourth fastest on his first flying lap, and some six tenths off his team-mate’s pace. As Leclerc got another crack at a lap, he reduced the deficit to the Mercedes to just over a tenth. However, Bottas was almost a second clear on his next run.
As Hamilton finally got in a clear lap, he went straight to the top of the order with a 1.31.361, but that was until Bottas could better that with a 1.31.110 in his Mercedes.
The drivers soon headed for their qualifying simulations, Bottas was one of the only ones to get in a clean lap on his first attempt, setting a 1.30.937s, whilst both Vettel and Hamilton made mistakes on their laps – Vettel running wide and the back end stepping out on Hamilton, forcing him to hit the bollard and going off the circuit.
After the drivers finally got in clean runs, Bottas sat at the top of the order, with Hamilton second – but his lap was set on the mediums from early on after failing to set a lap – then came the Ferrari’s of Leclerc and Vettel. After Ferrari’s strong showing in Montreal, the Scuderia dropped more than half a second adrift of Mercedes.