Lewis Hamilton fastest in French GP practice as Marcus Ericsson crashes

Lewis Hamilton
Listen to coverage of second practice on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra from 14:55 BST

Lewis Hamilton led team-mate Valtteri Bottas in a Mercedes one-two in first practice at the French Grand Prix.

The world champion was 0.140 seconds quicker than Bottas on Formula 1's return to the country where the sport started for the first time in 10 years.

Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo was third, 0.296secs off the pace and ahead of Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel and the Haas of Romain Grosjean.

Sauber's Marcus Ericsson had a heavy crash at the end of the session.

He lost the car at the fast Beausset corner after the flat-out Signes corner at the end of the Mistral straight, then span under braking for the double right-hander before smashing into the barriers. He was unhurt but the car was burned after catching fire at the rear.

The accident brought the session to a premature end, about four minutes before the scheduled finish.

Marcus Ericsson
Marcus Ericsson spent an alarming amount of time sitting in the cockpit before he later revealed he was unable to see his Sauber was on fire because of a broken wing mirror

Hamilton, one point behind Vettel in the championship, appeared to be struggling for much of the session, complaining over the radio about the handling of his car, but managed to get it all together after about an hour to post a lap of one minute 32.231 seconds, a second or so faster than he had managed up to that point.

Bottas and Ricciardo had much smoother sessions, quick from the beginning on the Paul Ricard Circuit, which last hosted the French Grand Prix back in 1990.

A number of drivers had spins, particularly at Turn Six, the beginning of an acceleration zone towards the famous Mistral straight - Raikkonen, Force India's Esteban Ocon and Toro Rosso's Brendon Hartley all narrowly missed the barriers during spins there.

Sauber's Charles Leclerc, who is being linked to a Ferrari drive in 2019, had spins at Turns One and Turn Eight, the chicane on the Mistral.

Behind Grosjean, Red Bull's Max Verstappen was seventh, complaining of understeer, and ahead of Toro Rosso's Pierre Gasly, Force India's Sergio Perez and Haas driver Kevin Magnussen.

McLaren's Fernando Alonso, fresh from his win for Toyota in the Le Mans 24 Hours last weekend, was sixth after the first 40 minutes but ended the session down in 16th having failed to improve following a switch from super-soft to the theoretically faster ultra-soft tyres.

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