Ferrari penalty challenge rejected as Valtteri Bottas top in French GP practice

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer
Hamilton and Vettel
Final practice is live via the BBC Sport website from 11:00 BST

Ferrari's attempt to overturn the penalty that cost Sebastian Vettel victory in the Canadian Grand Prix has been rejected by Formula 1 officials.

The team met with race stewards at the French Grand Prix on Friday to argue for a right to review the incident.

But stewards found that Ferrari had presented "no significant and relevant new elements which were unavailable to the parties at the time".

The decision means Ferrari are still waiting for a victory in 2019.

Vettel said that he was: "Disappointed. Very disappointed. For myself, for the team, for the sport and the fans. Just a disappointment.

"It was not just the decision - so we felt we had a chance but the FIA [the world governing body] didn't share that opinion."

Ferrari presented a number of what Laurent Mekies, their deputy technical director, said were "quite overwhelming" new evidence.

This included analysis of telemetry from Vettel's car, on-board camera views from both cars; a camera facing towards the German's face during the race; GPS analysis of the cars' trajectories; and a witness statement from the driver himself.

One piece of evidence submitted by Ferrari was television analysis by former F1 driver Karun Chandhok, an unusual step for a team to take in such a situation.

But stewards ruled that all of those were available either before the end of the race, or were not new and significant.

Vettel had been found guilty of rejoining the track in an unsafe manner and forcing Hamilton to take avoiding action.

Sebastian Vettel replacing the finish-place markers after the Canadian Grand Prix
In a BBC Sport poll 82% of users said Vettel's penalty should not be overturned

The German was given a five-second penalty, which promoted Hamilton to victory after a race-long battle between the two cars.

The verdict overshadowed Friday at the French Grand Prix, which Mercedes dominated, Hamilton leading team-mate Valtteri Bottas in the first session and the positions reversed in the second.

In the afternoon session, Hamilton had a spin on what should have been his fastest lap and ended the session 0.424 seconds behind his team-mate.

But the two were well out of reach of the rest, led by Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, who was 0.649secs off the pace and 0.079secs ahead of team-mate Vettel.

McLaren's Lando Norris was an impressive fifth fastest, ahead of the Red Bull of Max Verstappen, who had a difficult session.

The Dutchman was caught up in an incident with Hamilton - Verstappen was on a flying lap when the Mercedes went off the track at Turn Three and was distracted when it rejoined close to him at Turn Five.

The stewards investigated the incident after the session, with Hamilton accused of rejoining the track in an unsafe manner.

But they decided to take no further action on the basis that both drivers agreed the situation was 'not particularly dangerous', and that the angle of his car made it difficult for the Briton to see in his mirrors.

The stewards added that Hamilton had driven carefully, and he had looked in his mirrors at least twice before attempting to rejoin the track.

Hamilton's spin meant he did not do a lap on the faster soft tyres, and his best time was set on the more durable mediums.

Behind Verstappen, the second McLaren of Carlos Sainz was seventh, ahead of the second Red Bull of Pierre Gasly, with the Alfa Romeo of Kimi Raikkonen ninth and Haas drive Kevin Magnussen completing the top 10.

Both Red Bulls had spins, as did Renault's Nico Hulkenberg, on a day when gusting wind on an exposed race track in the Provencal hills caused problems for several drivers.

The Dane's team-mate Romain Grosjean had a torrid session, a lock-up ruining his first set of tyres and a series of errors, and complaints on the radio followed, leaving him 17th fastest.

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