• REPORT: Lewis Fastest on Friday in France

Lewis sets the pace in both sessions on practice day at Paul Ricard...

What Happened?

-  The opening day of action at the returning French Grand Prix took place under blue skies and in scorching temperatures, as drivers got up to speed with the Circuit Paul Ricard. 

-  Lewis hit the ground running in FP1, setting the quickest time in the slightly shortened session (due to an accident for Marcus Ericsson) with a 1:32.231 on the UltraSoft tyre. He managed 25 laps.

-  Valtteri was close behind in P2 with a 1:32.371, just 0.140 seconds off the benchmark time. The Finn completed 29 laps in total.

-  FP2 was also topped by Lewis, with the best of his 27 laps being a 1:32.539 on UltraSofts. The session was briefly disrupted by a red flag after Sergio Perez's Force India lost a left-rear wheel.

-  For Valtteri, FP2 wasn't quite so straightforward. His day ended early with a water leak and he finished P7 with a 1:34.156, set early in the session on the Soft tyre.

-  All six Mercedes-powered cars were fitted with fresh Turbos, MGU-Hs and Internal Combustion Engines (ICE) of an upgraded specification, which features reliability and performance updates.

What Did We Learn?

The team enjoyed an encouraging start to the French GP weekend, although it wasn't completely plain sailing.

"It was a relatively good day that was marred by a water leak on Valtteri's car which we are currently investigating," explained Technical Director, James Allison.

"Otherwise the car seemed reasonable in both sessions and on all the tyres. We've introduced new spec Power Units for France.

"The team in Brixworth have moved mountains to deliver the updated unit in time for France and we are looking forward to racing it in anger both here and in the races that follow thick and fast in the weeks ahead.

"The car is behaving well, the tyres seem to be in decent shape and the pace looks alright. However, we've had good Fridays before and were then disappointed Saturday and Sunday.

"So, we need to make sure we take nothing for granted and carry this form into the days that really count."

What We're Saying

Lewis: "This place is beautiful, it's really stunning down here. It's always a challenge when you come to a new circuit, but you're constantly learning new things and I love the challenge of trying to get into the swing of it before everyone else.

"There's a lot of different lines you can take and it's tricky to find reference points out on the track. Apart from the colourful lines, it's difficult to tell where you are.

"There's a couple of places for example on the back straight where you're trying to find out where the corner is - it's really hard to see.

"The new engine feels clean and fresh, but we won't really know its full potential until tomorrow when everyone gets to turn their engines up. I'm grateful for the hard work that everyone put into it back in Brixworth.

"They've been pushing so hard to get this engine and do it in the right way, so a big thank you to everyone back at the factory - I hope that we can do something great with it!

"Overall, it was a good session today - now we need to carry on this performance through the weekend."

Valtteri: "I enjoy being back in France for a race; I've only been racing here in junior formulae, so it's cool to have a Grand Prix here.

"I like the circuit, but it's a difficult and very technical track, especially going into the back straight around Turns 6 and 7.

"FP1 was decent for us, but FP2 was a little tricky. I only got a few laps in, then we had a water leak which we're currently investigating.

"Unfortunately, that meant that I didn't really get a lot of long runs in. We were running the new spec engine today which felt fresh and good, but we didn't run it yet in full power, so there's more to discover.

"We need to identify the cause of the water leak, but we're confident that we continue to run the new engine.

"We looked competitive in both sessions today, but we know that Ferrari has performance in hand on Fridays, so let's wait and see what tomorrow and Sunday hold for us."