A disrupted French Grand Prix second free practice at Paul Ricard meant that the numbers carry even more ambiguity than usual. But the underlying pattern throughout Friday suggests that, on raw pace, Mercedes is looking in very good shape in Formula 1’s first visit to the venue in 28 years.
However, that’s not the full picture.
The Formula 1 World Championship has returned to the Paul Ricard circuit for the eighth round of the season and for the first time in 28 years. At the end of the first practice session, which was red flagged with just a few minutes remaining, after Ericsson crashed in his Alfa Sauber, Scuderia Ferrari were fourth and fifth fastest with Kimi Raikkonen (1’33”003) and Sebastian Vettel (1’33”172) respectively. Both Scuderia Ferrari men ran the Ultrasoft tyres. Second practice gets underway at 16h00.
The Paul Ricard Circuit may be “new” to the youngest generation of fans, but for Scuderia Ferrari drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel it was just “another hot day at the office” as they progressed through the planned sequence of laps in Friday’s free practice, using different tyre compounds track that saw temperatures shoot over the 50 degree mark, while testing new solutions on their SF71Hs. The day ended with Kimi and Seb setting P4 and P5 respectively, before switching to a race simulation which produced encouraging pace.
“It was a good day” commented Kimi “and it’s fun to be in a new place, I enjoyed it as it’s something different. In the afternoon session, the weather conditions made it quite tricky. It was not the easiest situation on track, but overall it was ok. From the tyre point of view I think it was also pretty ok. Obviously we cannot compare what we saw today with the past, as this is a new track for everyone, but I think that we had no particular issues.” – Scuderia Ferrari Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen concluded.