From the very first outing, the Finnish driver was immediately very strong, finishing the day with the second best time
FROM THE ENVIRONMENT TO LE CASTELLET. The challenge picks up where it left off: in free practice for the French Grand Prix, Max Verstappen sets the pace ahead of the Mercedes duo. There is only one difference from the latest outings: Valtteri Bottas is faster than Lewis Hamilton. Of course, it has already happened. Furthermore, these are two preparation sessions, therefore of relative importance. But the signal is clear and has an explanation: the two teammates exchanged the chassis of their Mercedes and so, from the first exit, the Finnish driver immediately went very strong, finishing the day with the second best time (1 ‘ 32”872) just eight thousandths from Verstappen (1’32”880).
Hamilton is only third (1’33 ” 125) and has a night of bad thoughts ahead of him before returning to the track for Saturday morning free practice and especially for qualifying. The doubt that Bottas has fallen behind in the last GP due to technical problems would change the judgment on him. The weak and unmotivated attitude may not depend on the probable divorce at the end of the year from the German house.
The question remains: why did Mercedes authorize this chassis exchange? “It was expected,” explained the pilots. «It’s hard to say if my improvement depends on the frame, but it is certain that I felt better than two weeks ago. I immediately felt at ease, the balance is good, the tires work well », explains the Finn.
Behind the leading trio, Fernando Alonso emerges with the Alpine (1’33”340) followed by Charles Leclerc with the Ferrari (1’33”550). Following: 6. Ocon (Alpine, 1’33”685); 7. Gasly (AlphaTauri, 1’33”696); 8. Sainz (Ferrari, 1’33”698); 9. Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo, 1’33”786); 10. Norris (McLaren, 1’33”822).
Program: tomorrow (Saturday) free practice at 12, qualifying at 15; Sunday at 3 pm race.
SUBSCRIBE HERE TO THE ALL GENOA, ALL SAMP AND ALL SPICE NEWSLETTERS