Formula 1 | Leclerc beat Verstappen to take pole at the French F1 GP

After two free sessions dominated by Ferrari on Friday, one would think that Charles Leclerc would be the favorite for pole position. But in EL3, Red Bull and Max Verstappen showed more encouraging performances.

Therefore, it is difficult to know which of Leclerc or Verstappen will be in pole position after qualifying. Carlos Sainz will start from the back of the grid due to an engine penalty, while Sergio Pérez seems to be on the back foot since the start of the weekend.

At the back, the battle of the peloton promises to be difficult, although the Mercedes F1 is usually the third force in a clear way. Then Haas F1 and AlphaTauri impressed the most at the start of the weekend, although the American team fell this morning. Overall, the seasons were very tight between all the teams.

Note that, like Sainz, Kevin Magnussen will be sent back to the back of the grid on Sunday. Both men will thus decide to save their engine and not aim for the highest place on the grid in terms of lap times.

Q1 – 18 min

It was cooler than yesterday afternoon at the start of qualifying, with a 31 in the wind. However, the asphalt suffered from the scorching sun at Le Castellet and the track rose to 56 degrees.

Mick Schumacher set the first time of the session in 1’33″858, beaten by 14 thousandths of Lance Stroll. Sebastian Vettel was late before Pierre Gasly took the lead in 1’33″696.

But Charles Leclerc set the first clear reference with 1’31″727, well ahead of the drivers in the middle of the pack. Sergio Pérez took provisional second place six tenths behind in Monegasque, and Yuki Tsunoda placed two tenths ahead of Gasly.

Valtteri Bottas was third and Guanyu Zhou fifth, while Verstappen and the Mercedes F1 drivers attacked the clock. Verstappen positioned himself 0.164 behind Leclerc on his first lap, and Lando Norris took fourth place less than a second behind Leclerc. Lewis Hamilton and George Russell took sixth and seventh positions, just ahead of Daniel Ricardo.

The Alpine F1 drivers then set their first lap, with Fernando Alonso taking fifth, one second behind Leclerc. At the back, Esteban Ocon took the provisional ninth position, just behind the Mercedes drivers.

During his fast lap, Verstappen panicked because Pérez was on the line, and complained about it on the radio. Hamilton was forced to crash in the final corner, and he also complained about it on the radio. Sainz took third place on his first fast lap, half a second behind Leclerc.

Zhou made a mistake and failed to progress on his final lap, remaining 16th, as Alex Albon spun. Ocon improved, as did Schumacher and the Aston Martin F1 drivers. Unfortunately Schumacher’s lap was cancelled, but Magnussen moved up the standings.

Dismissed are Gasly, Stroll, Zhou, Schumacher and Latifi.

Q2 – 15 min

Before the start of the second half of qualifying, Haas complained about the cancellation of Schumacher’s lap. On the radio, his engineer explained to him that nothing was lost yet: “We talked about race direction, getting ready to ride.”

In the end, the decision on the direction of the race remained the same and the Haas F1 driver left his car. Alex Albon, 15th in Q1, therefore remains qualified for the second part of the qualifying session.

Hamilton took the best provisional time of 1’33″329, ahead of Russell, Albon and Tsunoda. Norris then took the best time of 1’32″777, and Vettel was between the two Mercedes. Leclerc took the lead with a slower time than in Q1, at 1’32″587.

Pérez took the lead in 1’32″120, and Verstappen regained the fastest lap in 1’31″990. Magnussen was ahead of Ricciardo and Alonso, who was ahead of Hamilton.

Sainz then set an excellent time on his new machine, at 1’31” 081. The Spaniard may have reason to regret, because he will be penalized tomorrow on the grid and will start from the back of the grid.

Ocon then improved by taking the sixth fastest time, ahead of Bottas who improved. Tsunoda passed the Frenchman, as did Alonso, fifth. Leclerc climbed from second place to tenth behind Sainz, Hamilton and Russell returned to the top 10, as well as Magnussen, who pushed Ocon into the top 10.

Eliminated from this Q2 are Ricciardo, Ocon, Bottas, Vettel and Albon.

Q3 – 12 minutes

Ferrari will develop a strategy to allow Leclerc to catch Sainz’s slipstream, as the Spaniard is penalized. Pérez set the best time of 1’31″640, far away from Alonso and Tsunoda. Leclerc took the best time of 1’31″209, a time that allowed him to put eight thousand ahead of Verstappen!

Russell and Hamilton lined up behind the trio, while Sainz did not set the clock. Norris moved in front of Alonso, and Magnussen as Sainz, who did not sign in time, because he was also penalized.

Leclerc improved on his best first sector, while Verstappen failed to improve on his own first sector. In the second half of the circuit, Leclerc improved his own time but not Verstappen’s perfect, while Sainz granted the Monegasque a wish.

But Verstappen went to the best second sector! Leclerc improved to 1’30” 872, while Verstappen did not improve enough, and the Ferrari driver took pole position 3 tenths ahead of Red Bull.

The pair will be ahead of Pérez and Hamilton, who improved on his last lap. Norris and Russell are in the third row ahead of Alonso and Tsunoda. So Ricciardo and Ocon will complete the top 10 on the grid.

pos. Pilot vehicles Q1 period Q2 time Q3 time
01 Charles Leclerc Ferrari F1-75 1:31.727 1:31.216 1:30.872
02 Max Verstappen Red Bull RBPT RB18 1:31.891 1:31.990 1:31.176
03 Sergio Perez Red Bull RBPT RB18 1:32.354 1:32.120 1:31.335
04 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W13 1:33.041 1:32.274 1:31.765
05 Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes MCL36 1:32.672 1:32.777 1:32.032
06 george russell Mercedes W13 1:33.109 1:32.633 1:32.131
07 Fernando Alonso Alpine Renault A522 1:32.819 1:32.631 1:32.552
08 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri RBPT AT03 1:33.394 1:32.836 1:32.780
09 carlos sainz Ferrari F1-75 1:32.297 1:31.081 -:—.—
10 Kevin Magnussen There is a Ferrari VF-22 1:32.756 1:32.649 -:—.—
—————- ————— ———- ———- ———-
11 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren Mercedes MCL36 1:33.404 1:32.922
12 Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault A522 1:33.346 1:33.048
13 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Ferrari C42 1:33.034 1:33.052
14 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin Mercedes AMR22 1:33.285 1:33.276
15 Alex Albon Williams Mercedes FW44 1:33.423 1:33.307
—————- ————— ———- ———- ———-
16 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri RBPT AT03 1:33.439
17 Lance Walk Aston Martin Mercedes AMR22 1:33.439
18 Guanyu-Zhou Alfa Romeo Ferrari C42 1:33.674
19 Mick Schumacher There is a Ferrari VF-22 1:33.701
20 Nicholas Latifi Williams Mercedes FW44 1:33.794

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