Carlos Sainz led Charles Leclerc at the top of the times on Friday as Ferrari dominated second practice for the French Grand Prix ahead of world championship leader Max Verstappen of Red Bull.

The Ferrari pair swapped fastest laps in a closely-contested session in bright sunshine, Sainz making light of the prospect of a 10-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race after taking new power-train components.

The Spaniard, who scored his maiden victory at the British Grand Prix earlier this month, clocked a best lap in one minute and 32.527 seconds to beat his Monegasque teammate by 0.101 seconds.

But he faces a grid penalty of at least 10 places after taking a number of new power-train parts on his car.

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World champion Verstappen was a competitive third ahead of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton in the two freshly-updated Mercedes and Lando Norris who was sixth for McLaren.

“We have some work to do,” said Verstappen. “It is very hard on the tyres here and we needed a few more laps today.

“It is difficult to judge, but the tyres were hot.”

PRACTICE TALKING POINTS: Danger looms for Ferrari as Hamilton fumes

Mercedes were not the only top team to bring an updates package to the south of France as both Ferrari and Red Bull were also running revisions, notably to aerodynamics and floors.

But Hamilton, preparing for his landmark 300th Formula One race, was not impressed with the impact of the Silver Arrows’ efforts.

“Today, we’re in fourth and fifth so that’s kind of the region that we’ll be fighting for,” he said.

“I don’t mean that we can’t be on the podium, I think we can still be up there.

“But we’re still not as quick as those front guys – and we’re a little bit further back than we were in the last race.” Mercedes had hoped to fight at the front on the smooth circuit that suits their car, but instead, said Hamilton, they “have a lot of work to do – a lot of ground to cover.”

“The car’s not spectacular here, we don’t know why, but hopefully overnight we can make a bit of a step,” he said, adding that the car lacked pace “everywhere”.

Kevin Magnussen was seventh for Haas ahead of Pierre Gasly of AlphaTauri, Daniel Ricciardo in the second McLaren and Sergio Perez, in the second Red Bull.

Perez, who has been unable to maintain his form consistently since winning the Monaco Grand Prix at the end of May, admitted he needs to make progress with his car set-up overnight.

“It’s not how I want it to be,” he said.


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CRUNCH TIME: Why the next 10 days could decide the championship

The session was uninterrupted and largely uneventful as the teams adapted to the heat – the track temperature was 50 degrees and the air 34 degrees – in front of a big holiday crowd.

The circuit is sold out for both Saturday and Sunday, according to the organisers at the Paul Ricard circuit, where the two Alpine drivers set the initial early pace with Fernando Alonso topping Esteban Ocon before Magnussen and then Russell took over until Leclerc arrived.

The reinvigorated Leclerc had been quickest in the first session and was swift to pick up where he left off in the earlier action.

As expected, it was a tight contest and four minutes later Verstappen edged ahead by 0.010 seconds only for Sainz, facing a grid penalty on Sunday, to sweep clear at the top by 0.850 in 1:33.322.

The heat appeared to have a soporific effect on everyone for a short period before Leclerc returned to beat his Ferrari teammate’s time by 0.186 only for the Spaniard to respond and jump six-tenths clear.

It was clear that Ferrari had found a sweet spot in their car set-up, but Verstappen was close to matching them on soft tyres, the Dutchman moving up to second briefly before Leclerc replaced him.

The FIA is facing a rebellion from at least five Formula 1 teams over floor changes that are set to be introduced for 2023 to help combat porpoising, Autosport has learned.

The FIA is facing a rebellion from at least five Formula 1 teams over floor changes that are set to be introduced for 2023 to help combat porpoising, Autosport has learned.

As well as enforcement of an Aerodynamic Oscillation Metric (AOM) and a clampdown on flexi floors from the Belgian Grand Prix, it also decided that changes to the technical regulations were required for 2023.

Following discussions in the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) after the Austrian GP, the FIA stated that it would mandate a 25mm raising of the floor edges, a raising of the underfloor diffuser throat, more stringent lateral floor deflection tests and the use of a more accurate sensor to measure bouncing.

Teams are currently awaiting more detailed rule proposals from the FIA on the matter, which should include the specific measurements and regulations that the governing body wants to put in place for next year.

But the series of measures has, however, already drawn a backlash from teams who are unhappy about the extent of the expensive changes – which they feel are unnecessary with the porpoising problem appearing to be more under control in recent races.

It is understood that a core team of outfits – believed to include Ferrari, Red Bull, Alfa Romeo, Haas and Williams – are pushing for an alternative solution, with some questioning whether or not the FIA’s claims about it being a safety matter are legitimate.

It has long been a part of the sport’s governance structure that, for issues that involve safety, the FIA can change rules without the need for any support from the teams.

Article 1.2.2 of F1’s Technical Regulations states: “Any changes made by the FIA for safety reasons may come into effect without notice or delay.”

It is understood the unhappy teams have begun lobbying FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem to argue that the changes to the technical rules for 2023 are not a genuine safety matter so should not be allowed to go ahead.

Sources with good knowledge of the situation have suggested that there is even support from eight teams – which would be enough for a ‘super majority’ rule change to be ratified through the normal F1 Commission processes – for a compromise solution that is a less extreme raising of the floor.

It is suggested that teams could accept more minor tweaks – such as the floor edge being raised by around 10mm – as that would not require such a fundamental rethink of car designs at this late stage.

What is unclear is what avenues the teams have to fight the changes if the FIA stands firm and refuses to back down from its decision to go for its more extreme version.

One factor that cannot be completely ruled out is a veto from Ferrari, with the Italian squad having retained its right to block specific rule changes as part of the new Concorde Agreement that came in to place from 2021.

While it is thought unlikely the veto would be able to stop rule changes going through on genuine safety grounds, the debate over whether or not the changes fall under that remit means the situation is not crystal clear.

A number of teams are especially fearful that the scope of the floor changes being introduced by the FIA are playing in to rival Mercedes’ hands – and the tweaks both this season and for 2023 are being framed in such a way that they could benefit the German car manufacturer.

There are also concerns that Mercedes has over-egged the porpoising problems that it has struggled to get on top of just so the FIA is forced to step in and change the rules.

One team boss said: “The changes are so extreme for 2023 because Mercedes claim that they have found 40% more downforce for next year, so they have urged the FIA to act. If Mercedes have genuinely done that, then you may as well hand them the world championship now.”

The FIA is insistent, however, that its actions are only motivated on ensuring the current generation of cars are safe.

The FIA is insistent, however, that its actions are only motivated on ensuring the current generation of cars are safe.

Live: F1 French GP commentary and updates – FP3 & Qualifying

Live commentary and updates for the 2022 edition of the Formula 1 French Grand Prix, taking place at Paul Ricard this weekend.

FIA facing rebellion over 2023 F1 floor changes

Ferrari heads into the race at the Le Castellet circuit on the back of two victories: Carlos Sainz took his maiden win at Silverstone, while Charles Leclerc claimed the spoils last time out in Austria.

Max Verstappen still leads the title battle, but now 38 points clear of Leclerc as the Monegasque displaced Sergio Perez from second in the standings.

Sainz’s power unit fire meant he left the Red Bull Ring without any points, and now faces a 10-place grid penalty for a change in control electronics.

The Spaniard led Friday’s timesheets from Ferrari team-mate Leclerc, who was fastest in FP1.

Mercedes cannot help Nyck de Vries to F1 – Toto Wolff

Mercedes cannot do much to help Nyck de Vries secure a Formula One drive and may let him go, team boss Toto Wolff said after the Dutch reserve replaced Lewis Hamilton in first Friday practice at the French Grand Prix.

De Vries, 27, is the reigning Formula E champion with Mercedes and also won the Formula Two crown in 2019.

Despite his success, and Mercedes supplying engines to four of the 10 teams, he has been unable to secure a race seat in Formula One.

Mercedes are also pulling out of Formula E at the end of this season, with the team sold to McLaren who have their own roster of drivers.

Last year’s F2 champion Oscar Piastri is meanwhile the hot favourite to become Formula One’s newest rookie with several teams interested in the Alpine reserve.

“If we are not able to provide him [De Vries] with an interesting Formula One project, in a way we need to let him go,” Wolff told Sky Sports television at Le Castellet.

“He’s looking at various options, sportscars and maybe Formula E but you must never give up on the opportunity that one day a Formula One door can open and today was very good. I can’t really help him,” added Wolff.

“We can’t really tell any team to look at him and consider him because that would be felt like an interference and that goes the contrary way.”

De Vries set the ninth best time in the session before handing back the car to seven-times world champion Hamilton for second practice.

It was his second such outing after one with Mercedes-powered Williams in Spain in May.

Sergio Perez calls for lifetime bans for abusive F1 spectators
LE CASTELLET, France — Red Bull driver Sergio Perez has joined calls to issue lifetime bans to spectators responsible for discriminatory, abusive behavior at Formula One races.

At the Austrian Grand Prix two weeks ago, multiple accounts of anti-gay, racist and sexist abuse were shared on social media by fans in the buildup to the race.

F1 condemned the abuse in a statement ahead of the grand prix and said it would discuss the issue with the race promoter.

After the race in Austria, several team bosses and drivers made clear that discriminatory abuse should not be tolerated among fans in F1, and ahead of this weekend’s French Grand Prix, Perez called for more serious action to be taken against spectators involved in such incidents.

“We definitely should, hopefully, ban them for life,” he said. “Don’t welcome them again, because they don’t represent who we are as a sport, and they don’t share our values at all.

“But at the same time we have great fans out there and with great values and I think a few fans shouldn’t be able to even embarrass our sport like that.”

Seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton said the sport as a whole needed to do more to combat discrimination.

He drew attention to F1’s We Race As One campaign, which was launched in 2020 to “fight the challenges of COVID-19 and global inequality,” but is now rarely referenced by the sport.

“I think Formula One 100% should continue to do more,” Hamilton said. “In the previous years we had the whole We Race As One thing, but that really was just a lip service that we’re not … we need to do more.

“And I know Formula One and Stefano [Domenicali, F1 CEO] are really focused on doing more and definitely taking it seriously this year, with the last race, but we can always do more.

“Everyone can do more. Every team, every company here can do more. It’s about accountability. God knows, there must be a thousand partners, I guess, within the Formula One organisation probably, or hundreds maybe and it’s about accountability with all those.

“What are they doing in their space in terms of … everyone should be pushing for diversity, inclusion and the messaging that we all use with our platforms.”

Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel suspects abuse has always been present at races, but believes the latest generation of fans is now willing to call it out.

“I think there has been a shift in fan base [for F1],” Vettel said. “I think we can all see the excitement for Formula One and I think we can see a younger audience, on average, coming to the track.

“I think the abuse has probably always been there. But I don’t think at any time it was or is correct. But I think maybe you are starting to see a generation coming to the track that actually stands up and complains about it and makes a noise and uses different platforms to communicate.

“So, I think it’s great to see that people are having the courage to speak up and we are learning about these things going on, because only by doing so we can take action. So I don’t think it will escalate.

“I think the truth, unfortunately, is probably that it has been going on for a long time at all major sport events or big events. And it’s more than about time that these things are changing, because there’s just no space for such things.”

“I think the truth, unfortunately, is probably that it has been going on for a long time at all major sport events or big events. And it’s more than about time that these things are changing, because there’s just no space for such things.”

The Mercedes driver would not name the team, but it has since been revealed as Williams.”We are very close to getting this diversity inclusion charter going and I think it’s still one team, still the same team, is not willing to engage,” he told reporters at the French Grand Prix.

“We’ve gone back and forth to them and for some reason they don’t want to, but all the other nine teams have which is really encouraging.”

The charter, proposed by a commission set up by Hamilton, aims to encourage more diversity and help those from under-represented backgrounds enter the sport.