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Valtteri Bottas led Lewis Hamilton in a Mercedes one-two victory over Red Bulls Max Verstappen in the first practice session at the French Grand Prix.
Bottas led Hamilton by 0.335 seconds, while Verstappen was just 0.007 seconds behind his title rival, whom he is leading by four points after six races.
Red Bull’s Sergio Perez finished fourth, ahead of Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo.
Sebastian Vettel crashed his Aston Martin and there were several spins.
Vettel drove back into the crash barriers after losing control in the double right turn at Beausset, but was able to return to the pits.
Bottas and Mick Schumacher also damaged their cars in off-track moments, and the Finn’s moment in turn two prompted Mercedes to complain to race director Michael Masi about the damage caused by the yellow exit edges he drove over.
Sporting director Ron Meadows complained that the curbs added “thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of pounds”. [worth] Damage for three feet wide “.
Vettel’s incident demonstrated another feature of the Paul Ricard track when his tires were shredded as he slid over the abrasive painted section in the run-off area that is supposed to slow the cars.
The same thing happened to the tires of Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari when he went off the track.
Behind Ocon and Ricciardo, the top 10 was completed by the second Alpine from Fernando Alonso, Alpha Tauris Pierre Gasly, McLaren’s Lando Norris and the second Alpha Tauri from Yuki Tsunoda.
Ferrari struggled with Charles Leclerc in 11th place complaining about the behavior of his car and Sainz in 15th place.
The race takes place against the backdrop of two major rule changes.
After two controversies this year, there are tighter controls on both tire pressure and rear wing strength – the punctures of Verstappen and Aston Martins Lance Stroll in the last race in Azerbaijan, and allegations that Red Bull and other teams drove rear wings in a straight line Bend back in ways that contradict the intent of the rules.