The Friday in F1 French GP saw a relatively smooth running despite some moments as Ferrari led the way from Red Bull and Mercedes.

Ferrari led the way on Friday in F1 French GP with Charles Leclerc leading the way in FP1 and Carlos Sainz doing so in FP2 with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen behind them but not that far off. The Dutchman felt a bit down in the second session than first.

His teammate Sergio Perez did not have a good day though. The Mexican noted about an issue with anti-roll bars but it wasn’t a major trouble. On Ferrari side, while they headed the standings, Leclerc will be the lone one to be in fight due to Sainz’s penalty.

He already has a 10-place grid penalty and is set to take further power unit parts which will see him start from the back, leaving him to recover as many positions he can. For Mercedes, even though they were just behind the Top 2, but they seem to lack pace.

George Russell noted about their long run pace, while Lewis Hamilton who only got into the car in FP2 but didn’t feel as good after changes made to it. On the other side, Nyck de Vries felt good after his first FP1 taste in a Mercedes F1 car.

Verstappen: “I think FP2 was a little bit more difficult for us. We just didn’t really get the balance like we hoped for, but also we are trying a few things with the car. So we’ll have a look at it all for tomorrow and of course try to be closer than what we were today. “In the long runs it’s a bit better but again, the tyres are running really hot and it’s very difficult to judge really where you are. But we know of course that we still have a little bit of work to do. I mean overall this track is very hard on the tyres anyway so I think you cannot compare it to Austria, but I think in general we all needed a few more laps to really have a good look at the long run.”

Perez: “We were basically having some delays, nothing really going on, a bit of an issue with one of the anti-roll bars but nothing major. It’s been a very short stint on that soft tyre but it’s what it is and hopefully tomorrow we are able to put it all together and be in the fight. Obviously I’m not very comfortable at the moment with the car. I think there’s some good work and understanding to be done over tonight, and we will try to pick up the best pieces for tomorrow’s qualifying and race.”

Sainz: “It was definitely a positive Friday. I didn’t do many laps on the short run on low fuel, but every lap that I did was very competitive, which shows the steps that we’re taking and the direction we’re taking is going in the right direction. I’m focusing more in the long run because I’m not going to be in that fight for pole position given the amount of penalties [I have]. I mean I took 10, so you can expect what’s coming next.

“As for the session, I tried a couple of moments with other cars to overtake because I know I’m going to need to a lot, and I must say that it was a bit trickier than expected. Mainly because there’s a tail-wind on the back straight and with this tail-wind it looks like the slipstream and DRS effect is a bit low. But I don’t have any other choice; I need to find ways to overtake and the best medicine for that is just to be a bit quicker come Sunday than what we are. Let’s see when everyone runs the engine modes on Sunday if we have the top speed to overtake. I hope we do because I’m going to need to make up a lot of places!”

Hamilton: “It wasn’t the best of sessions, naturally because we missed the first one. I tried to get back up to speed as quick as possible; it’s very hot so there is a lot of slow laps to try and get the temperatures down on the tyres, but I think I got through… I think I did alright – it was average I would say. We have a lot of work to do, a lot of ground to cover. Our car’s not spectacular here and we don’t know why but I’m sure hopefully overnight – we usually make a bit of a step, so hoping that’s the case tomorrow.”

De Vries: “I’m very grateful for the opportunity, it was a great experience. Obviously, it was very cool to be back in such a fast car and a bit of a reset of what I’m used to. All in all, a great session and great opportunity. We went through all test items and managed to do quite a bit of work for the team. It was a good session, it felt quickly on the pace and I felt comfortable with the car. The team was very supportive, and we got the information that we needed. Lewis was amazing and also very supportive. I also had Angela by my side as well which was really sweet. So overall a very productive session.”

The rest of the Top 10 featured the likes of McLaren, AlphaTauri and Haas where the former two carried upgrades on their cars. While the British F1 outfit put those on Daniel Ricciardo’s car for FP1, Lando Norris got to try them in FP2.

Both managed to make it in the Top 10 but have cautioned it to be early days with the updates. On AlphaTauri side, Pierre Gasly ran it in FP1 while both cars did so in FP2 where the Frenchman felt good but Yuki Tsunoda reckoned he needed more time.

While these two F1 teams got their updates in, Haas without it found itself in the Top 10 courtesy Kevin Magnussen in FP2. The Dane though is not certain how they will perform in qualifying where others pump up especially Alpine duo who looked far off in FP1 and FP2.

Norris: “It’s not as much as what I would dream of but yes, I don’t think we expected a lot of it. We expected a small step and it’s still too early to say. I’ve just driven it and things feel different – some things a little bit better and some things we have to optimise and figure out. But yes, reasonable. Daniel had it this morning for FP1, so he’s understood a little bit more. For me, I’ve still got to figure out how to drive the car because it’s a little bit different in that regard. I guess I’m playing a little bit of catch-up and trying to understand that compared to Daniel, but at the same time it’s been good, we’ve been able to compare data easily today because we chose that strategy of me not having it, him having it, and therefore we can look at the data tonight and extract more performance for tomorrow.

“As for the car, hust the slight feeling you get behind the wheel, you know? You’re so sensitive, you get so used to things, as soon as something feels just a little bit off, you have to figure out why that’s happening, what it’s doing, what the reasoning is for it and how to overcome it and maximise it again. It’s nothing good or bad, it’s just the limitation of the car is in different places throughout the corner and therefore you’ve got to adapt yourself to that.”

Gasly: “Clearly, in terms of performance, we were back in the Top 10 with 5th this morning and 7th this afternoon. The feeling in the way the car behaved showed a lot of positive signs with the new parts we brought this weekend. It is great to have this package for my home race and to see all the people around the track. Now we need to work to understand what we tested today and go through all the data to be able to put it together for Quali tomorrow. The way the front reacts is sharper and more reactive, especially in these longer corners where we used to wash out and overheat the tyres badly. The tyres are still overheating, which we will have to work on for the race, but it should be a fun one.”

Magnussen: “I don’t think it was a bad day. We made a decent jump from FP1 to FP2 – it didn’t look so good in FP1 – but then we made some changes and found some pace. Hopefully that carries into tomorrow and we have a good FP3, going into qualifying. It’s very impressive how the team is finding pace in the car despite no upgrades so I’m very happy about that and I’m excited to see what the car will be like when we do get upgrades.”

Alonso: “It was a challenging Friday for us especially driving in these extremely hot conditions in France. We tried to adapt the car as best as we could to deal with these high temperatures and focused on tyre management and cooling down during the two practice sessions. On reflection, we are not totally happy with the balance of the car so far and we need to look at some potential changes overnight. I’m confident we can improve things and be in good shape for Qualifying tomorrow in front of our home crowd.”

The midfield found Alfa Romeo also outside the Top 10 along with Aston Martin, both of the F1 teams hoping to find some pace to make it into Q3 or at least make it into Q2. The former saw Robert Kubica back in the car in FP1, who had a decent run. For Williams, they found had the updates on Nicholas Latifi’s car but he did not feel as good.

Latifi: “Overall it was a tricky day straight from FP1 – I just didn’t get the best feeling with the car which is something we’ll have to investigate to see if there was something not quite right. I don’t feel there was anything upgrade related which is a good sign, so we’ll just have to see. “It’s a positive that we have some good cross-car data and are now running both cars on the new aero package, which means double data for the team. Let’s see what we can do overnight and tomorrow.”

Kubica: “It’s been a busy session on my side of the garage: we had quite a lot of boxes to tick in these 60 minutes, from rake runs for data at the beginning of the session to a tight schedule of runs later in the hour. It was definitely warm out there and not the easiest conditions: still, it is always nice to drive a Formula One car and help the team with learning the set-up for the track. The feeling with the car was quite different from my previous outings, perhaps because of the heat: it will be interesting to go through the data with the engineers and understand better what we encountered, to make the car better for tomorrow and the rest of the weekend.”

Here’s how FP1 panned out in F1 French GP

Here’s how FP2 panned out in F1 French GP