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.
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.