2018 French GP: McLaren off the Pace in Friday Practice

Fernando Alonso, Paul Ricard 2018, Friday Practice - McLaren off the pace
© McLaren

McLaren were well off the pace in Friday practice, trailing by over two seconds on average – much more, than perhaps expected.

While Paul Ricard or Montreal are not tracks that should suit the McL33 on paper, the ever-worryingly growing gap since Monte-Carlo, should be alerting to the Woking based team.

Fernando Alonso was 16th in Free Practice One, clocking 2.6s slower lap times than FP1 leader Lewis Hamilton.

While team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne was a low 19th place, 2.8s off the pace.

2018 Formula 1 French Grand Prix Practice One Results
 DriverTeam
EngineLapsTimeGap
1.united_kingdom Lewis HamiltonMercedesMercedes251’32.231 
2.finland Valtteri BottasMercedesMercedes291’32.3710.140
3.australia Daniel RicciardoRed BullTAG251’32.5270.296
4.finland Kimi RaikkonenFerrariFerrari231’33.0030.772
5.germany Sebastian VettelFerrariFerrari191’33.1720.941
6.france Romain GrosjeanHaasFerrari221’33.3181.087
7.netherlands Max VerstappenRed BullTAG151’33.3311.100
8.france Pierre GaslyToro RossoHonda231’33.6851.454
16.spain Fernando AlonsoMcLarenRenault201’34.8622.631
19.belgium Stoffel VandoorneMcLarenRenault241’35.0212.790

While Free Practice Two was much more eye pleasing with Fernando Alonso in 8th place, it was with a 1.9s gap to the Mercedes’ of Lewis Hamilton.

Team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne ended up in 13th place, 0.8s slower than Alonso, 2.6s slower than Hamilton.

Whether McLaren & Alonso will be able to reach the third part of qualifying tomorrow, for the first time since Monaco, is a question that only time will answer, but it will be a tough ask, considering the McL33’s pace today.

Fernando Alonso, Post-Practice:

“Conditions were a bit tricky today – the wind played a big role in FP1, then changed direction this afternoon. The track is close to the seas, so we’ll get changeable winds all the time.”

“It was a fairly regular Friday, spent trying to understand and learn the circuit and develop a good base set-up.”

“The track is good; very smooth, the new asphalt is very grippy, which is always a help for a driver. I quite like the last sector, Turns 11 and 12 are quite challenging, so we may well see some action there on Sunday. There might also be a possibility to alter your racing line to follow the car ahead a little bit more closely. Let’s see if that results in some overtaking during the race.”

“Due to the VSC at the end of FP2, we’re still missing a little bit of long-run info about the tyres – but we’ll try to recover that in tomorrow’s practice. There are a couple of set-up possibilities still to explore tomorrow, so hopefully we’ll be a bit more competitive.”

2018 Formula 1 French Grand Prix Practice Two Results
 DriverTeam
EngineLapsTimeGap
1.united_kingdom Lewis HamiltonMercedesMercedes271’32.539 
2.australia Daniel RicciardoRed BullTAG311’33.2430.704
3.netherlands Max VerstappenRed BullTAG241’33.2710.732
4.finland Kimi RaikkonenFerrariFerrari291’33.4260.887
5.germany Sebastian VettelFerrariFerrari351’33.6891.150
6.france Romain GrosjeanHaasFerrari301’33.6991.160
7.finland Valtteri BottasMercedesMercedes71’34.1561.617
8.spain Fernando AlonsoMcLarenRenault241’34.4001.861
9.denmark Kevin Magnussen HaasFerrari331’34.4571.918
10.france Pierre GaslyToro RossoHonda351’34.5351.996