The Red Bull driver, who holds a four-point championship advantage over Lewis Hamilton heading into this weekend’s race at Paul Ricard, edged out Valtteri Bottas to the benchmark time by just 0.008s.

Verstappen posted a 1m32.872s during the soft tyre qualifying simulation runs as he hit the top of the timesheets, while Bottas’ best effort was set on mediums as Mercedes struggled to improve on the softest compound.

Hamilton was able to find more time on the soft tyres but he still ended up 0.253s off the pace and has so far struggled to match Bottas in FP1 and FP2.

Mercedes has swapped Hamilton and Bottas’ chassis for this weekend’s French GP in what the team has described as a standard rotation to even out mileage for both cars.

But the seven-time world champion seemed to be unhappy with his W12 in second practice, reporting “there’s something not right with the car.”

Behind a familiar top-three came two-time world champion Fernando Alonso, who impressed as he put his Alpine fourth in the FP2 order, just 0.458s down on Verstappen’s best time.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc split the Alpine duo in fifth ahead of the newly re-signed Esteban Ocon and AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly.

Carlos Sainz ensured both Ferrari cars ended the afternoon session inside the top-10 in P8, with Kimi Raikkonen and Lando Norris also getting within a second of the pace in ninth and 10th for Alfa Romeo and McLaren.

Antonio Giovinazzi was just outside of the top-10 for Alfa Romeo, while Sergio Perez failed to put together a representative lap on the soft tyres in his Red Bull as he finished 12th.

Aston Martin once again struggled for pace with Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll only 15th and 16th, ahead of George Russell, who was immediately quicker than Williams teammate Nicholas Latifi having sat out in FP1.

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