Hamilton will lead the sport's return to France as the Paul Ricard circuit plays host to its first race since 1990, and the country's first Grand Prix in a decade.
However, Valtteri Bottas missed out on most of the second practice session after suffering a water leak on his auto after just seven laps.
"There's a lot of different lines you can take and it's tricky to find reference points out on track".
Its works cars, Force Indias and Williams were all fitted with new internal combustion engines, turbochargers and MGU-H components for Friday practice, but Mercedes would not say whether these were upgraded parts or fresh versions of the original specification. Apart from the colourful lines, it's hard to tell where you are.
With drivers allowed only three engines a season before penalties are applied, Hamilton and Finnish team mate Valtteri Bottas were always going to get fresh ones having completed the lifespan of the ones they started the season with. There's a couple of places for example on the back straight where you're trying to find out where the corner is - it's really hard to see.
Hamilton, who has yet to commit to a new contract with Mercedes, is one point behind four-time champion German Vettel ahead of Sunday's French Grand Prix. More often than not, Ferrari runs slower engine modes during Friday Practice, only showing their true hand in qualifying. "It's as simple as that - sometimes you have these days, but let's see".
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"I have been playing games since I was a kid. and I haven't stopped, " said the Force India driver. Some corners are very hard to find the sweet spot. "Overall, it was a good session today - now we need to carry on this performance through the weekend".
The morning session ended with a scare for Sauber pilot Marcus Ericsson after his auto burst into flames when he spun out of control and slammed into the barrier.
"We as a team have all sat down and each and every person have been critical of themselves, including me", he said. We were wrong. That makes me confident that when we use these stiffer tyres again, we'll know what to do.
An official statement released during the second practice session on Friday afternoon said the situation was "gradually improving" as a result.