Free Practice 2
F1 2021
Round 7

Red Bull Racing Honda set the pace in Friday practice for the French Grand Prix

fr Circuit Paul Ricard

Red Bull Racing set the pace in Friday practice for the French Grand Prix at the start of what looks like being an extremely competitive race weekend.

Red Bull Racing Honda set the pace in Friday practice for the French Grand Prix

Here in France, Max, Checo and Pierre are all using a new PU from their allocation, whereas Yuki already took his second one earlier in the season, following his crash in Imola.

On a warm and sunny day in the south of France, there was a slightly disjointed start to FP1 as a number of drivers had off-track moments in the early stages. Yuki was one of them, spinning on cold tyres as he came out of the final corner to start a timed lap, but no damage was done and he was soon able to get on with his run plan.

It was a strong start to proceedings for Red Bull, with Max third and Sergio fourth in the opening session. And the AlphaTauri pair ensured we had all four Honda-powered cars in the top ten in FP1 as Pierre was eighth and Yuki tenth, a little over 0.1s between them.

FP2 saw Max lose a bit of bodywork on some harsh exit kerbs at the Paul Ricard circuit, but that didn’t upset his rhythm as he topped the times on his qualifying simulation. Sergio was unfortunately unable to show his full potential on his low fuel run, after having to take avoiding action due to a Haas sitting on the racing line in the final sector, leaving him 12th, one place ahead of Yuki.

Pierre had a smoother session in the other AlphaTauri, and went one spot better than his FP1 performance to finish seventh overall, ending up the middle of three cars covered by 0.013s.

The times were so close that Yuki in 13th was just a quarter of a second away from a spot in the top six, so we’ll now look to find as much performance as possible overnight ahead of what appears set to be a particularly competitive qualifying session on Saturday.

Toyoharu Tanabe
Toyoharu Tanabe
Honda Racing F1
This was the first day of practice at a permanent race track since the Spanish Grand Prix weekend in early May. We had fine weather with relatively high air and track temperatures during the sessions, particularly in the afternoon. For this race, at Red Bull Racing Honda, Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez ran new PUs, as did Pierre Gasly at Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda and we had no major issues throughout the day, going through the basic programme and function tests for a new PU, in addition to the usual job of gathering data. It looks as though the competition will again be very close with our nearest rivals. In this situation very small gaps can make a big difference to the final result, so we will be paying close attention to the smallest details with both our teams to optimise our PU performance for qualifying and the race.

Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen 33
Red Bull Racing
I think overall it’s been a good end to the day and we improved quite well. I wasn’t entirely happy in FP1 and even at the start of FP2 but on the second set of tyres this afternoon the car felt a lot better and a lot more connected. It’s still really difficult around here as the track is so open and it’s quite windy which means it isn’t always easy to nail the lap. The wind is also quite gusty so one lap it feels alright and the next lap it can increase, which means it’s not always easy to judge your mid-corner speeds, but everyone has to deal with the same thing. It’s difficult to say where we will be tomorrow and you never know what people will find overnight but the long runs also seemed decent so for sure I expect it to be very tight and it definitely won’t be easy.

Sergio Perez
Sergio Perez 11
Red Bull Racing
I got a pretty bad run of traffic today so it probably looks worse than it actually is on the time sheets. We look to be there or thereabouts and Max had a good day on pace. We tried some changes during the sessions and so tonight we’ll look at them to see what worked and hopefully we can find some pace overnight so we are right in the mix tomorrow. Coming from Baku, obviously this is a very different track but we’re continuing the good momentum, the understanding of the car is getting better and there are plenty of positives to take from today.

Pierre Gasly
Pierre Gasly 10
Scuderia AlphaTauri
Today was an ok day, however it’s been quite difficult with the wind which has made the car very tricky to drive. In terms of performance, I think it’s good that we’ve ended both sessions within the top 10, but it’s definitely been more difficult than the last two weekends. We’ve been working on the balance of the car today, so we’ll analyse all the data tonight and make some improvements to the set-up of the car to be more confident out on track tomorrow. I’m racing in front of my home fans here and I’m aiming to reach Q3 again in Qualifying. It’s so great seeing this many French flags in the grandstands here, I really want to do well for the people here supporting me this weekend, so they’ve got something to celebrate on Sunday.

Yuki Tsunoda
Yuki Tsunoda 22
Scuderia AlphaTauri
It’s been a good day. I think the approach here in France compared to the last few races is a bit easier, as I’ve already got experience driving here at Paul Ricard. I had a spin in the morning, but I think we’ve made good progress through the two sessions today. I struggled a bit with the set-up in FP2, but we adapted really well and by the end of the day I was happy with the car behaviour. My confidence in the car is definitely returning and my result in Baku has helped with that. We still have lots of work to do ahead of Qualifying and the field is very tight, so it’s going to be very competitive but the pace is definitely there.

Published on