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Bottas sets early pace at Paul Ricard

NEWS STORY
18/06/2021

Ahead of today's opening session the air temperature is 25.4 degrees C, while the track temperature is 39.9 degrees. It is bright and sunny.

In accordance with EU law, Ferrari is running without its Mission Winnow logos this weekend, while in accordance with FIA laws...

Before the lights go green, Vettel heads down the pitlane, his car sporting a strange array of sensors.

The German is followed by Nissany, Bottas, Hamilton, Mazepin, Ocon and Sainz.

There's an early yellow flag when Schumacher goes off at Turn 3 and lightly clouts the barriers.

Soon all twenty drivers are on track, all three compounds in use.

A blustery wind continues to catch drivers on the hop, with Bottas and Tsunoda among the early victims, the Japanese spinning at Turn 15.

Bottas - who is driving teammate Hamilton's car this weekend, and vice-versa - is told he incurred front wing damage when he went off.

Of the first wave, Verstappen goes quickest (35.639), ahead of Hamilton, Sainz, Norris and Perez.

A combination of the wind and overenthusiasm sees more and more drivers run wide over the unforgiving kerbs.

Sainz goes quickest (35.342), ahead of Norris, Verstappen and Gasly.

Verstappen is quickest in all three sectors, crossing the line at 34.139, 1.203s up on Sainz.

Hamilton improves to 34.833 but remains 0.694s off Verstappen's best.

Mazepin is unhappy after being forced wide by an errant Sainz, while Gasly goes wide in Turn 2.

Vettel is off at Turn 11, the rear of the Aston Martin having snapped out, causing the German to drift backwards into the barriers. There is minimal damage but he heads back to the pits.

In the meantime, Perez has gone second - 0.395s off the pace - ahead of Bottas, Hamilton and Sainz. All are on hards.

After 20 minutes, Schumacher is the only driver yet to post a time.

Perez closes to within 0.054s of his teammate with a 34.193, the Mexican having completed the most laps (14).

Verstappen and the Mercedes pair are among the first to make the switch to softs.

Hamilton immediately raises the bar with a 33.783.

Verstappen goes quickest in S1 but aborts after the yellows are waved following an off for Sainz.

A 33.448 sees Bottas go top as the replay shows Sainz suffering the same sort of snap that Vettel had. As he stops at his garage his front-left is down to the canvas, such is the damage the run-offs do here.

Verstappen complains of an imbalance, the Dutchman insisting that his car doesn't want to turn.

Leclerc improves to fifth with a 34.950 and Alonso sixth (34.969).

Despite his pace, Leclerc admits: "I'm really struggling with the car."

The mistakes continues, Ricciardo going wide in Turn 2 and Verstappen concerned that he has incurred damage after going over those unforgiving kerbs.

Tsunoda improves to seventh with a 34.847, as the Alfa pair go ninth (Giovinazzi) and tenth.

With 15 minutes remaining, the two locals - Gasly and Ocon - along with Sainz, are the only drivers still to run the softs.

Vettel is the latest driver to fall foul of Mazepin's totally oblivious approach to his craft.

On the softs, Gasly improves to sixth with a 34.699 before being demoted when Ricciardo improves, despite the fact the Australian is on old (soft) rubber.

Ocon goes fifth with a 34.329, which puts both Alpine runners in the top seven.

As the clock ticks down all twenty drivers are on track.

In quick succession, Hamilton and Verstappen miss the apex at Turn 2.

The session ends. Bottas is quickest, ahead of Hamilton, Verstappen, Perez, Ocon, Ricciardo, Alonso, Gasly, Norris and Tsunoda.

Leclerc is eleventh, ahead of Giovinazzi, Raikkonen, Stroll, Vettel, Sainz, Latifi, Mazepin, Schumacher and Nissany.

Check out our Friday gallery from Paul Ricard, here.

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1. Posted by kenji, 18/06/2021 16:13

"It's all down to the built in magic of Hamilton's chassis....."

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