French F1 Grand Prix 2018 Qualifying: Results, Times from Friday's Practice

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistJune 22, 2018

LE CASTELLET, FRANCE - JUNE 22: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes WO9 on track during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of France at Circuit Paul Ricard on June 22, 2018 in Le Castellet, France.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Mercedes were the dominant force in the opening practice session of the 2018 French Grand Prix on Friday as Sauber's Marcus Ericsson had a late crash that saw the rear of his car catch fire. 

Lewis Hamilton topped the timesheets with a lap of one minute, 32.231 seconds as Formula One returned to France for the first time in a decade, while Valtteri Bottas was just over a tenth of a second back in second.

Ericsson escaped his car seemingly unharmed after he hit a wall late in the session, and a red flag caused an early stoppage as fire burst from the rear of the Swede's Sauber. 

Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo, winner at Monaco at the end of last month, finished third fastest with a 1:32.527.

Meanwhile, championship leader Sebastian Vettel was fifth, almost a second down on Hamilton, and his Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen was fourth.

               

FP1 Recap

Here is a look at the timesheet from the first practice session in Le Castellet:

The action looked to be meandering to a close before Ericsson went into the wall at Turn 12. Flames then appeared from the rear of his car, but the 27-year-old did not seem to notice initially and only got out of his Sauber when instructed to by his team, per F1:

It was a dramatic end to a largely unremarkable session, which saw Ricciardo initially set the pace before being displaced by Bottas and then Hamilton.

Turn 6 caused a number of drivers problems early on, as Stoffel Vandoorne, Brendon Hartley, Esteban Ocon and Raikkonen all spun there.

There were also a few problems with drivers running slowly on the track, with Hamilton notably having to take evasive action to avoid Vandoorne:

Fresh from his victory at Le Mans last weekend, it was a return to F1 frustrations for Fernando Alonso as he could only finish 16th fastest in his McLaren, more than two-and-a-half seconds down on former team-mate Hamilton.

Meanwhile, Toro Rosso's Pierre Gasly endured a communications issue that saw him return from the track too late, per Autosport Live:

Mercedes will look to continue their dominance in FP2 later on Friday ahead of a potentially crucial Grand Prix in the championship race. 

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