Mercedes performed well in practice at the French Grand Prix, but they were furious about a part of the circuit that caused damage to its car.
Mercedes has rebounded from a poor showing at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in the opening first practice session in France, but it wasn’t without some serious stress.
Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton posted the first and second fastest times in P1, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen just behind in third.
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But it wasn’t completely smooth sailing for Mercedes, evident in a fiery radio exchange between team manager Ron Meadows and FIA race director Michael Masi.
The Mercedes pit wall boss was furious about damage caused to Bottas’ car when he ran wide on Turn two of the Circuit Paul Ricard.
The Finn bounced over the kerb, resulting in his front wing taking a battering.
“Those yellow rumble strips on the exit of (turn) two have done an awful lot of damage to our car. They’re just too aggressive,” Meadows complained over FIA radio.
“They’re the 50mm ones we normally have in a lot of places Ron and they were actually there in 2019,” Masi retorted.
“Well, all I’m telling you is our car’s rooted because we went over them,” Meadows replied.
“We can’t say: ‘Well you shouldn’t go there’ because that’s tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of pounds’ damage by going three foot too wide.”
Masi gave a sassy response, implying the damage was simply due to driver error.
“It’s a bit more than three foot but I’ll have a look, thank you,” he said.
Championship leader Verstappen was quickest in P2, edging out Bottas by just eight thousandths of a second to claim top spot on the grid.
Meanwhile, Daniel Ricciardo showed promising signs in the first practice session in France, notching up the sixth fastest time on the grid.
The Australian will be pleased to have driven faster than his McLaren teammate Lando Norris, who was a fraction slower to be ninth fastest.
However, Ricciardo struggled in P2, finishing 14th fastest, well behind Norris who was 10th.
Following two disappointing performances on the streets of Monte Carlo and Baku, F1 star Ricciardo is looking forward to the “more forgiving” tracks of France and Belgium.
The 31-year-old’s underwhelming maiden season with McLaren continued in Monaco and Azerbaijan, with the Australian placing 12th and ninth respectively on the street circuits.
Ricciardo has conceded he is still adapting to the MCL35M, but believes he can unearth some momentum on less frenzied tracks at the French and Austrian Grand Prix.