French GP: Verstappen leads Mercedes in Practice 2

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Max Verstappen showed Red Bull can fight Mercedes this weekend as he led Practice 2 at the French Grand Prix.

As drivers completed their usual qualifying-style run, the Dutchman switched to a lower downforce setup and posted a 1m32.872s to lead Valtteri Bottas by just 0.008s.

Interestingly, the Finn's fastest time came on the medium tyre as he was unable to maintain the performance of the soft compound for a complete lap.

Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton only made a small gain on the red-striped tyre in third, finishing a quarter of a second behind his championship rival.

Much like Practice 1, Turn 2 continued to be a corner of debate with Red Bull this time complaining about the yellow sausage kerbs after Verstappen lost an endplate to his front wing after only running fractionally wide.

That triggered FIA race director Michael Masi to reluctantly suggest he would look at the issue but any change does seem unlikely.

Behind the top three, Alpine continued their impressive start to their home race weekend as Fernando Alonso was a strong fourth and Esteban Ocon sixth.

The midfield was very close though as just over six-tenths separated the double world champion in fourth to Yuki Tsunoda in 13th for AlphaTauri.

Ferrari made up ground from the morning with Charles Leclerc in fifth and Carlos Sainz eighth. While Pierre Gasly completed the trio of French speakers in seventh.

Kimi Raikkonen once again showed Alfa Romeo's potential in ninth, as Lando Norris completed the top 10 for McLaren.

Down the field, Sergio Perez remained with the high downforce approach on his Red Bull and was a full second slower than Verstappen in 12th.

Daniel Ricciardo's morning promise slipped somewhat down in 14th, but still put him ahead of the two Aston Martins in 15th and 16th.

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At the back, Williams had a slight edge over Haas as George Russell led the group despite missing the first session to allow Roy Nissany a run.

Mick Schumacher also recovered from a poor start to just led teammate Nikita Mazepin, as the Russian brought up the field.

Back at the front, and Verstappen's lead actually marked the first time a Mercedes did not finish fastest in a session at Paul Ricard for the first time since its return to F1 in 2018.

Can Max stay ahead of Saturday and Sunday? We'll have to wait and see!

Full results from Practice 2 can be seen below: