Ferrari's Montreal appeal rejected as Mercedes dominate in France

Le Castellet (France) (AFP) –


Ferrari's bid to be granted a review of Sebastian Vettel's penalty, and lost victory, at the Canadian Grand Prix was rejected on Friday as Lewis Hamilton escaped punishment for a similar, but lesser, infringement during second practice for the French Grand Prix.

A hearing called by the stewards of the Montreal race, held between practice sessions at the French event, rejected the Italian team's claims that they had convincing and "overwhelming" new evidence.

The outcome of the hearing confirmed Hamilton as the race winner.

The defending five-time world champion finished second on the track behind Vettel in Montreal, but was classified first after Vettel's five second penalty was applied.

Vettel had been penalised for rejoining the race in an unsafe fashion after going off and running across a strip of grass at the first chicane, his move forcing Hamilton to take dramatic action to avoid a collision.

Ferrari's sporting director Laurent Mekies had told reporters before Friday's hearing that Ferrari had new evidence to present that was "pretty overwhelming" in proving that Vettel was innocent of breaking any rules.

This evidence included telemetry data, video playback of the incident, interviews and analysis by television pundits. It also included a witness statement by Vettel.

In a statement, the stewards said: "There are no significant and relevant new elements which were unavailable to the parties at the time of the competition concerned."

Hamilton's Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas was fastest in Friday afternoon's second free practice ahead of the Briton, who had been quickest in the morning's opening session on another day of Silver Arrows supremacy.

The Finn, who is 29 points behind Hamilton in the title race, clocked a fastest lap in one minute and 30.937 seconds to outpace Hamilton by four-tenths of a second.

Charles Leclerc was third fastest ahead of his Ferrari team-mate Vettel, the pair running six- and seven-tenths adrift of the top pace set by Bottas on soft tyres on an afternoon of searing heat.

Hamilton, who won last year's French race from pole, topped the times ahead of Bottas in the morning, but had a less comfortable time in the second session including an off-track excursion that resulted in him being called for a stewards' investigation.

British rookie Lando Norris was a surprise fifth for McLaren ahead of Max Verstappen of Red Bull, Carlos Sainz in the second McLaren and local hope Frenchman Pierre Gasly in the second Red Bull.

On a sweltering afternoon, with air temperatures of 32 degrees Celsius and the track at 55, the teams struggled with tyres and grip as the surface of the Le Castellet track absorbed the heat.

As in the morning, when Hamilton led Bottas, there was little to entertain a sparse crowd until the world champion went off through Turns Three and Four, taking out a bollard with his left rear wheel as he returned to the track ahead of Verstappen.

It was a reminder of Vettel's incident in Montreal and may have passed through the Englishman?s mind as he offered an apologetic wave to the Dutchman on the back straight before he pitted.