2021 French GP FP2 Report - Max Verstappen takes the top spot, as turn two continues to cause problems

Championship leader Max Verstappen took the top spot in the second session of the Friday running, with the two Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton occupying the second and third place positions.

Despite not claiming the top spot, Bottas still displayed a great deal of pace, as Hamilton complained that the car wasn't where he wanted it.

Opening Stages

19 of the 20 cars on the grid were out on track in the first five minutes, with only the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc staying in the garage for the time being. The first time of the session was set by the Williams of George Russell, who was back in the number 63 car, following Williams junior driver Roy Nissany taking his slot for FP1.

However regular business was resumed a couple of laps later, with the top three being occupied by the Red Bulls of Sergio Perez and  Verstappen, alongside the top spot that was taken by Bottas. Bottas and Hamilton had swapped chassis for the weekend, which could indicate the Finn's sudden increase in pace for the weekend.

The first casualty of the session was Nikita Mazepin who, similarly to Yuki Tsunoda in this morning's session, spun the car going into the final corner of the track, pirouetting in front of one of the charging Mercedes.

Following on from FP1, turn two was continuing to cause problems for teams up and down the grid. Verstappen was the causality this time around, as a section of the front wing flew off the Red Bull, spurring a virtual safety car to jump into action. Moments earlier Mick Schumacher in the Haas took evasive action to avoid a similar fate.

Alpine continues to make progress

The vast majority of the grid were donning the medium compound of tires, with the hopes of getting some race simulation times on the board, causing a lull as the session hit the midway mark. 

As the time ticked on, however, more drivers began to transition across to the soft compound tire. Perez couldn't quite manage to get his soft tires working at optimum performance, as he failed to better his time. However, homeboy Esteban Ocon jumped to third in the timings, jumping both of the Red Bulls, with his red wall tires at peak performance.

Despite this change in tactics across the paddock, it was still Bottas who would be top of the times, still on the medium compound of tires. This was until Verstappen blitzed his time on a fresh set of soft tires, putting the Championship leader top in FP2. 

Alpine would continue their charge on home soil, Fernando Alonso managed to put the car third on the grid, with Ocon just behind in fourth. After what could be considered a disappointing start to the year for the rebranded Renault outfit, they will be hoping to continue this momentum into the race on Sunday afternoon.

Slow later stages

With 20 minutes remaining, the top 13 were separated by just over a second, showing just how close the grid could be for qualifying tomorrow afternoon.

The real surprise package in this session was the Alfa Romeo Sauber team, as both cars were flirting with the top 10 consistently across the hour. Kimi Raikonnen managed to sneak inside the top 10, at P9, whereas teammate Antonio Giovinazzi was close on the tale of Lando Norris, with the Italian sitting in 11th place.

Aston Martin however continued to be outside of the top ten, but not too far away. Both Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll set their fastest laps on the medium compound of tires, and neither car was too far away from the rest of the pack, spelling a promising weekend when they swap to the faster compound.