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French GP: Carlos Sainz fastest as Ferrari dominate Practice Two

Carlos Sainz edges Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc in Practice Two; Max Verstappen unable to keep pace in third for Red Bull; Watch the French GP all live on Sky Sports F1 this weekend, with qualifying starting at 3pm on Saturday

Last Updated: 07/23/22 7:21am

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Anthony Davidson analyzes the different lines the Ferrari and Red Bull are taking through Turn 11 at the Paul Ricard circuit.

Anthony Davidson analyzes the different lines the Ferrari and Red Bull are taking through Turn 11 at the Paul Ricard circuit.

Carlos Sainz beat team-mate Charles Leclerc at the fastest time as Ferrari dominated Practice Two at the French GP to continue their world championship resurgence.

Sainz produced a 1:32.527 to edge Leclerc by 0.1s, with world championship leader Max Verstappen a remarkable half-second back from the Spaniard’s leading time, while his Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez could only manage 10th.

The performance will give Ferrari confidence about extending their streak of back-to-back victories, with Leclerc’s win at the Austrian GP two weeks ago having narrowed Verstappen’s world championship lead to 38 points.

However, Sainz’s success will be tempered by confirmation earlier on Friday that he will take a 10-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race, after taking a new Control Electronics following an engine failure last time out in Austria.

Pierre Gasly is left frustrated after encountering Kevin Magnussen and Alex Albon whilst on a flying lap during P2 of the French GP.

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Pierre Gasly is left frustrated after encountering Kevin Magnussen and Alex Albon whilst on a flying lap during P2 of the French GP.

Pierre Gasly is left frustrated after encountering Kevin Magnussen and Alex Albon whilst on a flying lap during P2 of the French GP.

Mercedes, who welcomed back Lewis Hamilton after the seven-time world champion sat out Friday’s opening session, were unable to live up to the high expectations many had for them coming into the weekend. Hamilton was fifth, with team-mate George Russell fourth as they failed to match Ferrari’s pace despite the introduction of new upgrades.

Lando Norris delivered an encouraging sixth-placed finish, with Pierre Gasly and Kevin Magnussen separating him and McLaren team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.

French GP Practice Two timesheet

drivers Team Time
1) Carlos Sainz ferrari 1:32,527
2) Charles Leclerc ferrari +0.101
3) Max Verstappen Red Bull +0.550
4) George Russell Mercedes +0.764
5) Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +0.990
6) Lando Norris McLaren +1,080
7) Pierre Gasley AlphaTauri +1,379
8) Kevin Magnussen Hass +1,401
9) Daniel Ricciardo McLaren +1,457
10) Sergio Perez Red Bull +1,533
11) Fernando Alonso Alpine +1,732
12) Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo +1,737
13) Sebastian Vettel Aston-Martin +1,893
14) Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri +2,013
15) Lance Stroll Aston-Martin +2,068
16) Alexander Albon Williams +2,126
17) Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo +2,127
18) Esteban Ocon Alpine +2,133
19) Mick Schumacher Hass +2,668
20) Nicholas Latifi Williams +2,885

Horner: I think it will be tight

Ferrari’s dominant showing in Practice Two came after Leclerc had edged Verstappen earlier on Friday, with the Dutchman’s deficit in the second session coming as something of a surprise.

Pace has rarely been a problem for Ferrari throughout the 2022 season, with reliability having cost the Italian team on several occasions – most recently when Sainz’s engine failed in Spielberg.

Christian Horner says Red Bull had to do an 'old school' repair on Max's car after he took some damage during practice at the French Grand Prix.

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Christian Horner says Red Bull had to do an ‘old school’ repair on Max’s car after he took some damage during practice at the French Grand Prix.

Christian Horner says Red Bull had to do an ‘old school’ repair on Max’s car after he took some damage during practice at the French Grand Prix.

There were concerning signs in Friday’s first session when Leclerc complained of a technical issue, but it appeared to be consistently smooth sailing from there on as both cars produced without trouble.

It remains to be seen whether Sainz’s prospective 10-place grid penalty will be increased, with there being some expectation that he could choose to take further engine parts and drop to the back of the grid.

speaking to sky sport f1 after the session, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner insisted that he wasn’t concerned by the gap and expects another tight battle with Ferrari for the remainder of the weekend.

Max Verstappen says Red Bull will be making some changes to the car after a 'difficult' practice session in France.

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Max Verstappen says Red Bull will be making some changes to the car after a ‘difficult’ practice session in France.

Max Verstappen says Red Bull will be making some changes to the car after a ‘difficult’ practice session in France.

Horner said: “I think they’re looking quick but I take real comfort from, if you have a look at that last little run there over a five-six lap period, I think we’re closer.

“It’s been so tight between the teams in the first 11 races, I’ve got no reason to believe it’s going to be really that much different here.

“It’s going to be getting it right, tire degradation, strategy. Qualifying isn’t quite the premium that it is at other circuits because you can overtake, but you’ve got to be on the first couple of rows.”

Mercedes upgrades fail to make impact

Expectations had been high for Mercedes coming into Friday, with the smooth nature and layout of the Paul Ricard Circuit expected to suit the Silver Arrows, who have shown signs of improvement in recent weeks and were also welcoming new upgrades in the south of France.

Hamilton sat out the first session as Nyck de Vries fulfilled one of the team’s two young driver sessions for the season, but was unable to make a major impact as he returned later in the day.

Lewis Hamilton feels the car has not been 'spectacular' in practice but it is positive they will be able to make some good changes overnight ahead of qualifying in the French Grand Prix.

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Lewis Hamilton feels the car has not been ‘spectacular’ in practice but it is positive they will be able to make some good changes overnight ahead of qualifying in the French Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton feels the car has not been ‘spectacular’ in practice but it is positive they will be able to make some good changes overnight ahead of qualifying in the French Grand Prix.

Russell was 0.7s back from Sainz’s leading effort, while Hamilton was almost a full second behind the Spaniard, with those margins similar to the deficit Mercedes have faced all season as they’ve struggled to adjust to F1’s new design regulations for the 2022 campaign.

While being off the pace has become the norm for the eight-time reigning constructors’ champions this season, recent improved performances and optimism over their chances at the circuit may make this latest disappointment one of the hardest to take.

“We’re probably a little bit further off the pace today than we would have hoped,” Hamilton said.

Toto Wolff says Mercedes 'aren't where we want to be' after first practice at the French GP and discusses Nyck de Vries outing in Lewis Hamilton's car.

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Toto Wolff says Mercedes ‘aren’t where we want to be’ after first practice at the French GP and discusses Nyck de Vries outing in Lewis Hamilton’s car.

Toto Wolff says Mercedes ‘aren’t where we want to be’ after first practice at the French GP and discusses Nyck de Vries outing in Lewis Hamilton’s car.

“We have a lot of work to do, a lot of ground to cover still. The car is not spectacular here, I don’t know why, but overnight we usually make a bit of a step so I’m hoping that’s the case tomorrow.”

speaking to Sky Sports F1 Between Friday’s two practice sessions, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said: “(It was) not where we want to be. We’re trying lots of parts but we’re just lacking pace at the moment in the free practice session.

“We have a few aerodynamic modifications on the floor, on the side edges – little things that should make it better.”

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