Pierre Gasly (STR13-05, Car 10)
First Practice Session
Best lap: 1:33.685, pos. 8th, 23 laps
Second Practice Session
Best lap: 1:34.535, pos. 10th, 35 laps
“It feels amazing to be driving in France for my home race, especially in my first full Formula 1 season! It’s been a really positive start to the weekend, finishing eighth in the first practice session and 10th in the second one, so we are looking reasonably fast. I think we still have some performance in our pocket, we need to work well and try to keep up the pace for tomorrow. The conditions were quite difficult early today, with strong winds changing between sessions, it was challenging to find the right setup. I think we’ve found the right balance and hopefully we can get a good result in qualifying, which would be great for my home race.”

Brendon Hartley (STR13-04, Car 28)
First Practice Session
Best lap: 1:34.664, pos. 15th, 25 laps
Second Practice Session
Best lap: 1:35.697, pos. 15th, 31 laps
“It was a disappointing end of the first practice day for me here in Le Castellet, as something happened with the PU in the final minutes of FP2. I don’t have the exact details yet, but we had to cut the session short. Now the team needs to investigate and try to find out what exactly the problem was. However, I think it was a relatively smooth day before that. The pace has been pretty good across the two cars and Pierre has done competitive laps on the softer compounds in FP2. We definitely have potential in the car and we will work hard overnight to maximise everything for tomorrow.”

Jonathan Eddolls (Chief Race Engineer):
“It’s always exciting to come to a new track on the Formula 1 calendar, and it’s great to be back in France after so many years away. Since it’s a new track, there’s an awful lot of pre-event work that the team has done across all factories in Faenza, Bicester, Milton Keynes and Sakura, to come here as well prepared as possible – which overall has paid off. We had a minor segment issue on the first run, meaning the track didn’t necessarily match all of our simulation work, therefore the energy management wasn’t optimum, so we lost a little bit of track time because of that. The team recovered well and we managed to get back out within the 40 minutes. Unfortunately, luck was against us, because we then had an issue with the power in the garage, which meant we lost all of the telemetry and timing, but most importantly we lost the radio. So coming up to the end of the 40 minutes, we weren’t able to communicate with the drivers that they needed to box. Brendon luckily came in, but Pierre was focussed on getting the timed laps in, and unfortunately we broke the 40-minute P40 tyre rule. After that we had a good session, being a new track you want to focus on lots of laps, and you also need to complete more setup work than normal. Although we covered a large amount of pre-event work it’s not quite the same as being on the track and experiencing the track temperatures and the wind, so FP1 was spent mainly focussed on setup work and trying to find an optimum balance. In FP2 we made some further improvements to the car, but the most significant thing was the wind changed 180 degrees between sessions, so what was a headwind became a tailwind and the balance changed completely. The wind was more like it should be on Sunday, so FP2 was much more representative conditions of what we will have in the race and that’s positive. In terms of our tyre choice, Brendon had the harder of the three tyres for his long run, that meant his first qualifying practice was on the harder tyre, so that compromised him slightly going into his qualifying run on the ultrasoft, because he’d done his warmup on the soft compound – which is quite a step in grip. Therefore, he wasn’t able to maximise the full potential of the car. On the other hand, Pierre did his baseline run on the supersofts and progressed onto the ultrasofts, and managed to extract much more from the car, setting a competitive lap time. We’ve had a PU issue on Brendon’s car which is still to be fully understood, and that ended his session early. Unfortunately, he’d only just gone out on the soft tyre, so we will head into Sunday with limited understanding on that tyre. That will have a bit of an impact on our understanding but shouldn’t be significant. We will take all of the data gathered today and come up with the best strategy for Sunday.”

Toyoharu Tanabe (Honda F1 Technical Director):
“The first thing you look at when running at a new track is to see how the data from the circuit correlates with data from the simulation programmes that we run for the PU. Therefore we spent the morning session optimising energy management and we feel there is still some more work to do on this aspect of our performance. Pierre’s pace looked quite good, which is positive for the rest of his weekend. However, we encountered a problem on Brendon’s PU in the last few minutes of the second session and we will now have to investigate the cause and how bad is the damage, before deciding how to proceed for the rest of the weekend.”