French Grand Prix – Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton will start the race at Paul Ricard from pole position, ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel starts from P3.
Hamilton claimed his 75th career pole position after setting a 1:30.029 in the final part of qualifying, to just pip teammate Valtteri Bottas for top spot. With Hamilton ahead after the first runs in Q3, the Finn had set a 1:30.147 as the chequered flag fell, taking provisional pole at the very end of the session, before Hamilton crossed the line for the final time to reclaim the position back. Mercedes had looked comfortable throughout qualifying, with Ferrari & Red Bull always looking slightly less confident in the tricky conditions.
With FP3 proving a washout due to rain, wet conditions loomed throughout the qualifying hour but only a few drops actually fell on the track, particularly in Q2. This led to uncertainty, as well as a slight lack of grip at certain points of the track. This caught out Haas’ Romain Grosjean in particular, who dropped his car halfway through Q3. The impact was a minor one, but was enough to bring out the red flags while the car was recovered.
Mercedes had gotten through into Q3 after using the SuperSoft tyres in Q2. Immediately more confident in uncertain conditions, both Mercs & Red Bulls got through on the red tyres, while Ferrari opted for the UltraSofts. While all got safely through into Q3, the Mercs & Red Bulls will start on the SuperSofts, Ferrari on the UltraSofts.
Sebastian Vettel claimed P3 for Ferrari at the chequered flag, ahead of the two Red Bulls, with Max Verstappen eclipsing Daniel Ricciardo for P4. Kimi Raikkonen, in the second Ferrari, had a nightmare Q3 session. He wasn’t able to get a completely clean lap in and will start from P6. Renault, competing at their home Grand Prix, have a car starting from P7; Carlos Sainz was best of the rest behind the top three teams and starts ahead of Charles Leclerc. The young Sauber driver was one of the stars of qualifying and made it through Q2 – the first time a Sauber driver has done so this year. With Romain Grosjean crashing in Q3, also compromising teammate Kevin Magnussen’s first flying lap, Leclerc’s time of 1:32.635 was enough to claim P8 ahead of the Haas duo.
Outside the top ten, Esteban Ocon was P11 for Force India. He was one of the victims of Leclerc’s last minute flying lap in Q2, along with teammate Sergio Perez. The Mexican driver starts from P13, with the Force Indias split by Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg. Pierre Gasly was P14 for Toro Rosso at his home Grand Prix, while Marcus Ericsson was P15 in the second Sauber.
Q1 was a disaster for McLaren and Williams. With no extenuating circumstances, former behemoths of the sport McLaren & Williams had both of their cars eliminated in the first part of qualifying. Winner of Le Mans just last weekend, Fernando Alonso finished P16 for McLaren with teammate Stoffel Vandoorne P18 in the sister car. Brendon Hartley split the two in his Toro Rosso, while the Williams drivers took the last row. Sergey Sirotkin was P19, Lance Stroll P20.