Max Verstappen topped Friday's second practice session at the French Grand Prix, ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton.
Red Bull's Verstappen finished just 0.008 ahead of Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas, however the Finn was the man to beat as his fastest time was set on a pair of medium tyres, and he could not improve on the softs. Verstappen could only go a fraction faster than Bottas on soft tyres, which should have given him a bigger advantage.
Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton who was also on soft tyres, was 0.253 seconds off Verstappen and is four points behind the Dutchman in the drivers' championship. Hamilton complained to his engineer over the team radio that "there's something not right with the car," and a mistake at the end of his long run in second practice left him behind his team-mate.
French Grand Prix
Race Review: Mercedes have a real problem, Red Bull are getting everything right
Charles Leclerc finished second practice in fifth splitting the two Alpines, ahead of Frenchman Esteban Ocon and behind Fernando Alonso who was just 0.4 seconds off Verstappen.
The kerbs at the exit of Turn Two at were thrown into discussion on Friday as Verstappen ran wide at Turn Two and lost a piece of bodywork after hitting the high kerbs when entering the run-off area, damaging the car. Red Bull team manager Jonathan Wheatley complained to race director Michael Masi over the radio, while Mercedes sporting director Ron Meadows said the damage is "tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of pounds."
Wheatley said: "We've just done a shed-load of damage to our car and pretty sure Max didn't end up there on purpose. It just seems to be such a huge penalty for a minor indiscretion on the drivers' part. I was wondering whether you would consider, I don't know, removing half of them. It just seems the penalty for going wide... is about £100,000 ($138,250)," he added.
Masi said the kerbs were not new, but the cars have changed since the last race at Paul Ricard in 2019 but said he would review the matter.
Earlier in the day, Valtteri Bottas led a Mercedes one-two in first practice on hard tyres, but the session was littered with a number of spins and Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel crashed into the barriers after overshooting the double right-hander at Turn Seven.
Bottas, and Haas' Mick Schumacher damaged their cars in the spins caused by the sausage kerbs at Turn Two, while Ferrari's Carlos Sainz and Vettel shredded their tyres on the abrasive paint in the run-off areas.
Drivers found the tyres behaving differently as the soft tyres should be the fastest, however Hamilton could only find 0.1 second improvement when switching from the mediums to softs, while Verstappen found an extra second. The trouble with tyres rolls on from last weekend's Azerbaijan Grand Prix where both Lance Stroll and Verstappen suffered identical tyre failure.
Pirelli investigated the matter and concluded "there was no production or quality defect on any of the tyres; nor was there any sign of fatigue or delamination" and the tyres were related to running conditions. However, the investigation coincided with the FIA introducing new protocols on stricter checks on tyre pressure and temperature.
Final practice begins on Saturday from 11:00 BST (12:00 CET), with qualifying from 14:00 BST (15:00 CET).
French Grand Prix
'Very rewarding' - Verstappen relieved strategy paid off at French Grand Prix
French Grand Prix
Tactical masterclass sees Verstappen beat Hamilton to win thrilling French GP
Share this article