D he Formula 1 is developing into a three-tier society in France. At the very front, Mercedes is once again making its rounds untouchable. In the duel between the two Silver Arrows, Valtteri Bottas was ahead in the third training session. After the Finn's clear best time the day before, the qualifying dress rehearsal was much closer to the point.
Bottas' fastest lap in 1: 30.159 minutes was only 41 thousandths less than the best attempt by teammate Lewis Hamilton . However, the world champion had to cancel his first attempt. In the second attempt, the tires were certainly no longer in ideal condition. The time has to be estimated all the higher.
Ferrari lonely in row 2
Ferrari is on the road in the second class of Formula 1. Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel seem to be fighting relatively lonely for the two places in the row behind the Silver Arrows, four and a half tenths behind. In the third training session, newcomer Leclerc was just ahead in the team duel with 31 thousandths. Like Hamilton, Vettel only set his personal best at the second attempt.
The rest of the Formula 1 world is miles away from the fast cars in silver and red. Red Bull can no longer be considered a third force designate among the top teams. Instead, Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly led the midfield - with an indisputable 1.3 seconds behind the leaders. Instead of looking ahead, the two Red Bull drivers have to watch out for the pursuers.
McLaren and Renault are fighting for Q3 places
Lando Norris left the McLaren in seventh place as before made a strong impression the day before.Renault also gave a first sign of life in the person of Daniel Ricciardo in eighth place. The last two top ten positions were occupied by Carlos Sainz in the second McLaren and Kimi Räikkönen in the regained Alfa Romeo.
Nico Hülkenberg was blocked by Sergio Perez on his fast lap. The Rhinelander was therefore unable to keep up with Ricciardo's pace and had to be content with 11th place. For qualifying, however, Renault has justified hope of getting both cars into Q3. The high deficit should not make the team management happy.