Lewis Hamilton was fastest in practice at the French Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton

Defending champion Lewis Hamilton laid down a marker by dominating practice on Formula One's return to France.

Hamilton was fastest in both sessions at the Paul Ricard circuit as he bids to usurp rival Sebastian Vettel at the top of the standings.

Ferrari's Vettel is one point clear of Hamilton, but the British driver and his Mercedes team held the edge in Le Castellet on Friday.

The 33-year-old Englishman lit up the time sheets in the day's opening running before returning to its summit later in the day.

Hamilton, armed with a new Mercedes engine, posted a best lap of one minute and 32.539 seconds to finish clear of the rest.

Daniel Ricciardo was second for Red Bull, three quarters of a second behind the Mercedes, with his team-mate Max Verstappen third.

Ferrari traditionally underplay their hand on Friday, and Kimi Raikkonen and Vettel finished fourth and fifth respectively.

Vettel, who claimed his third win of the season in Canada a fortnight ago, was more than one second down on Hamilton.

Valtteri Bottas finished seventh in the sister Mercedes after sitting out much of the second session with a water leak on his car.

Earlier in the day, Marcus Ericsson's dramatic crash brought a premature end to the opening running.

Swedish driver Ericsson lost control at the left-handed 100mph Turn 12, sliding down the long run-off area before hitting the tyre barrier.

His Sauber then started billowing flames from the rear. Ericsson, who could not see the inferno behind him, remained in the car.

Ericsson had to be alerted to the danger over the radio as marshals ran over with fire extinguishers and he hastily leapt out of the car.

The session was immediately red-flagged and Ericsson, 27, emerged unscathed from his charred Sauber.

It marked the first time an F1 car has been on fire since this season's introduction of the halo, the controversial cockpit safety device which sits above the driver.

There was drama in the second session, too, as Sergio Perez lost his left-rear wheel. The tyre worked its way off the Mexican's Force India and bounced along the track.

The red flags were deployed with Perez stranded in his three-wheeled car at Turn 7.

McLaren are enduring yet another agonising season, and they have shown no improvement in France.

Fernando Alonso, who completed the second leg in his pursuit of motor racing's Triple Crown with victory at Le Mans last weekend, was eighth, 1.9 seconds off the pace.

The Spaniard, 36, also spun in the closing moments before limping back to the pits. Alonso's team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne finished in 13th.

Related F1 links

Like what you've read?
Help your friends Know It All by sharing this article to your social media.

Most Read

Check out our daily preview with tips for every race1

Kempton, Wolverhampton & Dundalk tips

David Clough has his best bets for the two evening cards at Kempton and Wolverhampton.

Sam Allardyce, Neil Lennon and Mick McCarthy are all being linked with the vacant role
2

ROI contenders: McCarthy favourite

After Martin O'Neill's exit as Republic of Ireland manager, Mick McCarthy is the early favourite to replace him.

Alex Hammond looks ahead to the weekend's racing3

Alex Hammond: Play the Obeaux!

Sky Sports News' Alex Hammond previews the upcoming action in her latest blog with Clan Des Obeaux fancied to upset the star names in the Betfair Chase.

Bellshill gets the job done at Punchestown4

Walsh eyeing Gold with Bellshill

Ruby Walsh feels Bellshill can develop into a serious Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup contender this season.

Get all the football gossip from the National Papers5

Paper Talk: Eriksen in demand

All the latest transfer gossip from the back pages of Wednesday's UK newspapers as Tottenham's Christian Eriksen is linked with some European giants.

Most Read

Check out our daily preview with tips for every race1

Kempton, Wolverhampton & Dundalk tips

David Clough has his best bets for the two evening cards at Kempton and Wolverhampton.

Sam Allardyce, Neil Lennon and Mick McCarthy are all being linked with the vacant role
2

ROI contenders: McCarthy favourite

After Martin O'Neill's exit as Republic of Ireland manager, Mick McCarthy is the early favourite to replace him.

Alex Hammond looks ahead to the weekend's racing3

Alex Hammond: Play the Obeaux!

Sky Sports News' Alex Hammond previews the upcoming action in her latest blog with Clan Des Obeaux fancied to upset the star names in the Betfair Chase.

Bellshill gets the job done at Punchestown4

Walsh eyeing Gold with Bellshill

Ruby Walsh feels Bellshill can develop into a serious Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup contender this season.

Get all the football gossip from the National Papers5

Paper Talk: Eriksen in demand

All the latest transfer gossip from the back pages of Wednesday's UK newspapers as Tottenham's Christian Eriksen is linked with some European giants.

Racing Tips

Daily Nap: Bay watch

David Ord provides Thursday's racing nap, next best and treble with the bet of the day running at Newcastle.

Check out our daily preview with tips for every race

Kempton, Wolverhampton & Dundalk tips

David Clough has his best bets for the two evening cards at Kempton and Wolverhampton.

Check out our daily preview with tips for every race

Thursday's racing preview

Nick Grant makes Stargazer his best bet at Newcastle and he has a tip for every race in the UK and Ireland.

Next Race Off

19:47 Aqueduct
7
(7)
Okeamo
J: David Cohen
1
(1)
Millies Party Boy
J: Dylan Davis

Football Tips

Sporting Life tipping record

Sporting Life Tipping Record

A look at how the Sporting Life recommended bets have performed in November 2018.

Get your bets on!

Our best bets

Check out all of our available betting tips and previews of the forthcoming sporting action.

We look ahead to the latest round of matches in the Nations League

Nations League tips: Go for goals

George Pitts looks ahead to tonight's UEFA Nations League action, with three selections from some important matches.