LE CASTELLET, France (AP) — Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas posted the top two times during the opening practice for Formula One’s French Grand Prix on Friday.
Defending champion Hamilton clocked the best lap time at 0.140 seconds faster than Bottas.
Red Bulls’ Daniel Ricciardo had the third best effort, followed by Ferrari pair Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel.
Vettel leads Hamilton by one point atop the standings after seven of 21 races.
The session had one red flag near the end when Marcus Ericsson spun out of control and slammed into the barrier on Turn 11. The right rear of his Sauber burst into flame before the Swede got out, apparently unharmed.
This was the first chance drivers had to run on the 5.8-kilometer (3.6-mile) Paul Ricard Circuit, as F1 makes its return to France for the first time in a decade.
There will be two more practices later on Friday and on Saturday before qualifying for Sunday’s race.