With Mercedes looking to bounce back in the 2021 title fight following a nightmare pair of races in Monaco and Baku, it made the perfect start to the weekend at Paul Ricard as Bottas headed a 1-2.

Bottas posted a 1m33.448s to set the pace by 0.335s from Hamilton as the Finn bids to return to form after a difficult start to the season, which has resulted in speculation ramping up regarding his future at Mercedes.

Bottas’ best time came after he had sustained front wing damage when he ran wide at Turn 2 early in the session. The incident prompted Mercedes sporting director Ron Meadows to complain to FIA race director Michael Masi about the aggressiveness of the kerbs.

Behind the Mercedes duo, F1 championship leader Max Verstappen was unhappy with the balance in his Red Bull car on his way to setting the third-fastest time, over four-tenths down on Bottas. 

Fresh from his first victory for Red Bull, Sergio Perez was fourth-quickest to ensure the Mercedes and Red Bull cars came two-by-two, while Esteban Ocon was a strong fifth having just committed his future to Alpine on a new deal that was announced ahead of his home race.

There were some encouraging signs of improvement for Daniel Ricciardo, who finished sixth for McLaren, ahead of Alpine’s Fernando Alonso and AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly.

Lando Norris and Yuki Tsunoda completed the rest of the top-10 for McLaren and AlphaTauri.

Both Ferrari drivers finished outside of the top 10 as Charles Leclerc took 11th, while teammate Carlos Sainz ruined his set of Soft tyres with a huge spin at Turn 2, leaving him only 16th in the order.

Following his breakthrough podium for Aston Martin last time out, Sebastian Vettel endured a tough morning after spinning backwards into the barriers at Turn 11.

The four-time world champion re-emerged for the final 15 minutes of the session after damaging his rear wing but finished 15th in the FP1 order, just behind teammate Lance Stroll.

Formula 2 driver Roy Nissany set the slowest time as he made his latest FP1 outing for Williams, finishing up behind the Haas duo of Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher, who tapped the Turn 2 barriers on his out-lap.

Click here for full results from opening practice at the 2021 F1 French Grand Prix.