Bottas tops times before storm halts final French GP practice

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"I am happy with it but I am always trying for perfection", he said. Quite how the Dutch 20-year-old deals with a new track remains to be seen as Red Bull try to get the most out of their Renault engine before switching to Honda from next year.

There will be another practice session on Saturday before qualifying for Sunday's race.

Hamilton's lap was barely a tenth of a second quicker than teammate Valtteri Bottas, who briefly looked likely to claim pole position.

The 90-minute opening session was red-flagged with a minute remaining when Ericsson lost control at the Beausset corner, spun and hit the barriers hard, with the Sauber auto then catching fire.

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen was fourth on the timesheets in both sessions, with Vettel also fifth in both. The Swedish driver was unharmed.

The four-time world champion said on his team radio that the McLaren driver was going "dangerously slow". After coming back out, though, he quickly went to the top of the timesheet.

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Two of the three French drivers retired on the spot, with Force India's Esteban Ocon and Toro Rosso's Pierre Gasly the unlucky casualties.

The latter time was a considerable 0.704 faster than Red Bull's Australian Daniel Ricciardo, the best of the rest.

The second session was momentarily stopped while crews helped retrieve Perez's Force India after the back left wheel came off as he drove over a curb, sending the vehicle sliding across the tarmac.

Williams and McLaren, two of the sport's most successful teams who are going through hard times, continued to struggle. He finished the race in Canada fifth, and saw Vettel turn a 14-point deficit into a one-point lead with a victory.

They missed a sequence of incidents as the teams learned their way around the "new" circuit unused for Formula One for 28 years since French hero Alain Prost won for Ferrari in 1990.

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