Charles Leclerc set the fastest time during the opening practice session for Formula 1’s French Grand Prix at Circuit Paul Ricard.
Leclerc set a time of 1:33.930s to finish 0.091s up on title rival Max Verstappen in hot and sunny conditions on Friday afternoon.
Carlos Sainz was third for Ferrari, three-tenths down, as he prepares to take a grid drop for Sunday’s race.
Sainz has incurred a 10-place grid penalty for a fresh Control Electronics but it is expected that Ferrari will take on more fresh components prior to Saturday’s running.
It comes after he suffered a race-ending failure at the preceding round in Austria.
George Russell was fourth-fastest for Mercedes but faced a deficit of almost a second to pacesetter Leclerc.
Pierre Gasly was an encouraging fifth for AlphaTauri as the team’s heavily upgraded AT03 made its on-track debut.
Sergio Perez had a scruffy session, spinning through Turn 3, before having to pit after a visor tear-off lodged in the right-rear of the car.
Perez recovered to wind up sixth overall, ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris in the updated MCL36, while Williams’ Alexander Albon was a surprising eighth.
Mercedes’ Nyck de Vries was ninth as the Dutchman replaced Lewis Hamilton for the one-hour session per Formula 1’s new-for-2022 rules on young drivers.
It was a second practice outing of the year for long-term Mercedes co-reserve driver de Vries, who had a run out for Williams in Spain in May.
De Vries, the reigning Formula E champion, was briefly in contention for a 2022 seat with Williams before it opted to recruit Albon.
Daniel Ricciardo rounded out the top 10 for McLaren, ahead of Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu and Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll.
Alpine had a low-key start to its home grand prix, with Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso only 13th and 15th respectively, sandwiching Sebastian Vettel.
Haas enters France off the back of successive double points but was another team to put in a subdued display, leaving Mick Schumacher and Kevin Magnussen 16th and 17th respectively, in front of Yuki Tsunoda.
Robert Kubica returned to Alfa Romeo’s C42 in place of Valtteri Bottas and finished 19th overall.
Kubica has been Alfa Romeo’s reserve driver since 2020 and last year stepped in to compete in two grands prix when Kimi Räikkönen contracted Covid-19.
Nicholas Latifi had his first experience of Williams’ updated FW44 and finished as the slowest of the 20 entrants, setting his best time on Mediums compared to the Softs utilised by the other 19 drivers.
Friday’s second practice session is scheduled for 17:00 local time