Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton posted the fastest time Friday in the first practice session for the French Grand Prix.
The Mercedes driver, who has won five of the seven races this season, was .069 seconds ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas, who has won the other two races and is second in the standings behind Hamilton.
Ferrari generally struggled with their tires, but Charles Leclerc found some form toward the end to clock the third-fastest time. Teammate Sebastian Vettel, who has not won in 15 races dating back to the Belgian GP last August, was fifth behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
Drivers dealt with lunchtime track temperatures hovering close to 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit) on the Circuit Paul Ricard in southeastern France. There is a second practice Friday afternoon, ahead of a third practice and qualifying on Saturday.
Vettel already trails Hamilton by 62 points and has two second-place finishes so far.
Hamilton, who is chasing a sixth world title, has won the last three races and leads Bottas by 29 points.
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