French Grand Prix – Lewis Hamilton has taken pole position for Sunday’s race at Paul Ricard, leading his teammate Valtteri Bottas. Charles Leclerc claimed P3 for Ferrari.
Lewis Hamilton has claimed another pole position after setting a 1:28.319 on his second run in Q3. Setting that time on the Soft tyre, he had actually been quite a bit faster on that run through the first and second sector but lost quite a bit of time in the third sector as the wind picked up.
Valtteri Bottas finished P2 to round out the Mercedes front row, with his second lap in Q3 a scruffy one. Failing to improve throughout all three sectors, it meant that Hamilton’s first run would also have been good enough to claim pole position. Hamilton thus finished 0.286 clear of Bottas at the end of the Q3 session.
The closest competitor to either Silver Arrow was the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc. He set a 1:28.965 to finished 0.6 seconds down on Hamilton. He was caught in no mans land between Mercedes and the next quickest team, as Max Verstappen finished P4 for Red Bull Racing and almost half a second down on the third placed Ferrari.
The Honda powered Red Bull was under serious pressure from the McLaren duo throughout qualifying, who looked convincingly fast throughout all of Friday’s track time and into qualifying. Verstappen’s P4 time was just 0.009 seconds clear of Lando Norris who, in turn, was just 0.104 ahead of his teammate Carlos Sainz.
Impressively, the McLarens both outqualified Sebastian Vettel as the Ferrari driver endured something of a nightmare run in Q3. Having looked fine throughout Q1 & Q2, his first run in Q3 was compromised by exceeding track limits through Turn 6 as well as a slight technical problem when his car didn’t upshift properly leaving the chicane. His second run produced a 1:29.799 and his eventual P7.
Daniel Ricciardo finished P8 for Renault as he led the French team’s home charge, just over a tenth behind Vettel’s time. He was comfortably ahead of Pierre Gasly’s Red Bull, who was 1.865 from the front. Antonio Giovinazzi rounded out the top ten, as the Alfa driver made it into Q3 for the first time in his career. Both Gasly and Giovinazzi will start the race on the Soft tyres, having used them to get through Q2. All the top eight used the Medium tyre, which seemed to be the better tyre throughout Q2, meaning they will start on the better race tyre.
Outside the top ten, Alex Albon finished P11 for Toro Rosso, having just managed to pip Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo by less than a tenth of a second. Nico Hulkenberg was P13 and was left disappointed to not progress into Q3 as Ricciardo managed to do so in the other Renault. Sergio Perez finished P14 in the first of the Racing Points, having impressed by finishing in the top ten in Q1. Kevin Magnussen finished P15 on a bad day for Haas – Magnussen being unable to escape Q2 after Romain Grosjean was eliminated in Q1.
Daniil Kvyat, who went into qualifying knowing he will start from the back due to grid penalties, put in a perfunctory performance to finish P16 in the times, ahead of Romain Grosjean in the Haas. Grosjean’s poor Q1 was compounded by encountering an incident between Ricciardo and Raikkonen at Signes that meant he had to back off and lost time. Lance Stroll was P18 for Racing Point while the Williams drivers George Russell and Robert Kubica brought up the rear.