Hamilton scores 86th career pole in France

Defending Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton achieved his 86th career pole position in the sport with a fine qualifying result at Circuit Paul Ricard.

Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas had the edge initially after setting the timesheets in both Q1 and Q2, but Hamilton stepped up a gear with a run to the top spot on the first runs in Q3 with a lap of one minute, 28.448 seconds.

Hamilton then improved to a one minute, 28.319 seconds on his second lap to secure pole position, and set the fastest times of all in each of the three sectors across his two laps.

Bottas had a scruffy lap and was unable to improve on his first run pace, meaning he ended up 0.286 seconds behind Hamilton.

Charles Leclerc was the lead Ferrari, 0.646 seconds off the pace in third and yet well ahead of fourth-placed Max Verstappen.

The Red Bull driver struggled during qualifying, ending up more than four tenths slower than Leclerc and only 0.009 seconds quicker than the McLaren of Lando Norris.

Carlos Sainz Jr was sixth fastest, just over a tenth slower than his teammate, to signal McLaren’s strong performance throughout practice and qualifying.

This was a fine qualifying performance for McLaren. Two drivers in the top 6. Kudos to Norris and Sainz with this excellent result.

Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel was only seventh, 1.480 seconds off the pace, having abandoned his first qualifying run.

Vettel reported a missed upshift gear change, and also had a moment at Turn 1 and a later off-track excursion on his first run, then was not able to string together a strong lap on his second set of soft tyres.

This was a disappointing result for the four-time champion. Seems Vettel is not in the right frame of mind considering the controversial moment in Canada and the constant media pressure.

Renault driver Daniel Ricciardo was eighth, just over a tenth slower than Vettel and ahead of Pierre Gasly.

Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi was P10, although his one attempt in Q3 did not go well after his late lap in Q2 allowed him to make the final stage of qualifying.

Eight of the top ten will start the race on mediums having used that tyre to set their Q2 times, the exceptions being Giovinazzi and Gasly – who both used softs.

Toro Rosso driver Alex Albon was bumped down to P11 at the end of Q2 by Gasly, who nicked the final Q3 slot by just four-hundredths of a second.

Kimi Raikkonen was unable to match teammate Giovinazzi’s late-session pace and ended up P12, just ahead of Nico Hulkenberg – who attempted to make it through to the top ten shootout using mediums on his second run.

Racing Point’s Sergio Perez was P14, seven-tenths faster than the Haas of Kevin Magnussen.

Daniil Kvyat, who must start at the back thanks to grid penalties for taking Honda’s ‘Spec 3’ turbocharger and V6 – on top of other engine component offences – was fastest of those eliminated in Q1.

Kvyat was bumped in the final moments of the session by Toro Rosso teammate Albon, who is not running the latest-spec components.

Haas driver Romain Grosjean was knocked into the dropzone by improvements from Perez and Ricciardo, with his attempt to escape by the rear stepping out in the chicane and spitting him off track.

Lance Stroll continued this season’s run of Q1 eliminations in P18 place having jumped back ahead of the Williams of George Russell on his final attempt.

Russell is carrying two 10-place grid penalties after the Williams team was forced to change his Mercedes control electronics and energy store following an electrical power loss that restricted him to four laps in final practice.

He qualified P19 after moving onto his third control electronics and energy store of the season, having already changed both following his bizarre drain strike during Azerbaijan Grand Prix practice.

Russell outpaced team-mate Robert Kubica by 0.416 seconds in the battle for P19, but Kubica is set to start P18 thanks to penalties for others.

So congratulations to Lewis Hamilton with the French Grand Prix qualifying result. Another Mercedes front row with Valtteri Bottas joining his Silver Arrows colleague at the front. Going to be fascinating race in terms of the championship.

French Grand Prix qualifying results:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m28.319s
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m28.605s
3 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1m28.965s
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1m29.409s
5 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1m29.418s
6 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1m29.522s
7 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m29.799s
8 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1m29.918s
9 Pierre Gasly Red Bull-Honda 1m30.184s
10 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m33.420s
11 Alexander Albon Toro Rosso-Honda 1m30.461s
12 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m30.533s
13 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m30.544s
14 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1m30.738s
15 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1m31.440s
16 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1m31.626s
17 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1m31.726s
18 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1m32.789s
19 Robert Kubica Williams-Mercedes 1m33.205s
20 Daniil Kvyat Toro RossopHonda 1m31.564s

4 thoughts to “Hamilton scores 86th career pole in France”

  1. French Grand Prix qualifying review as reported by Formula1.com.

    Lewis Hamilton delivered a sensational lap on his final run to secure his third pole position of the season in French Grand Prix qualifying, beating Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas as rivals Ferrari’s challenge failed to materialise.

    Mercedes have had the measure of Ferrari all weekend, but Sebastian Vettel’s time in the second segment of qualifying suggested we might yet have a multi-team fight for pole. It was not to be, though, as Mercedes turned it up when it mattered – as they have so often done in the V6 era.

    Hamilton set the best time on his first run and then bettered it on his second with a new track record, nearly three-tenths of a second clear of Bottas, who made a mistake on his final lap.

    Charles Leclerc was Ferrari’s lead driver, three-tenths further back in third, as his team mate Sebastian Vettel struggled, failing to set a lap time on his first run after losing momentum and only managing a distant seventh on his second.

    McLaren delivered their best qualifying performance in years, with Lando Norris a brilliant fifth ahead of Carlos Sainz, the duo looking quick on both the soft and medium tyres throughout the whole session.

    Daniel Ricciardo gave Renault, in their home race, a top 10 start with eighth, although he has been called to see the stewards regarding a potential impeding infringement in Q1. Red Bull’s Pierre Gasly and Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi completed the top 10.

    Q1 – Grosjean knocked out, as track evolution creates late drama

    Drivers didn’t waste any time heading out on track as the opening segment of qualifying kicked into gear, with the track ramping up as the session went on, meaning huge benefits for those who set their lap times late on.

    The biggest scalp was Romain Grosjean, who has struggled all weekend in front of his home crowd. The Haas driver made a mistake at the Turn 8/9 sequence which meant he had to back out of his lap, having set a personal best in the first sector. It was a big price to pay.

    He was joined in an early finish by Daniil Kvyat, who was in the Toro Rosso garage in the closing minutes when the times were tumbling. It’s no real loss, though, as he was set to start from the back of the grid anyway courtesy of a string of grid penalties for engine component changes.

    While Racing Point’s Sergio Perez popped into sixth at the death, his team mate Lance Stroll couldn’t follow suit, the Canadian ending up nearly a second adrift and 18th overall, making this his 12th successive Q1 exit.

    The two Williams of George Russell, who was set to start from the back anyway because of grid penalties for a change of energy store and control electronics, and Robert Kubica brought up the rear, as Red Bull’s Max Verstappen added some attention to proceedings as he scraped through in 13th.

    Up front, it was incredibly close for the top three positions, with pace-setter Bottas, Hamilton and Leclerc separated by less than a tenth of second, leaving qualifying finely poised.

    Knocked out:

    Q2 – Hulkenberg fails to make cut in front of Renault’s home crowd

    As temperatures continued to soar at Circuit Paul Ricard, drivers were finding the medium Pirelli tyre was actually the faster of the three compounds in this segment of qualifying.

    The top teams will have had an eye on getting through on the medium tyres, as it’s the better tyre to start the race on, such is their performance advantage – but the conditions allowed for the likes of McLaren and Renault to go in that direction, too.

    The McLarens continued to impress with Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz fifth and seventh respectively, while Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo also made his way through – all three on the mediums – but his team mate Nico Hulkenberg wasn’t so lucky after making a hash of the Turns 8-9 sequence and ended up 13th.

    Alexander Albon missed out by just 0.02s, with Pierre Gasly scraping through – though Gasly will be at a disadvantage in the race as he will have to start the race on the softs, which means an early pit stop.

    Kimi Raikkonen, Sergio Perez and Kevin Magnussen were the other drivers to get the boot, with Bottas setting the pace for the second successive segment, edging ahead of Vettel by just 0.069s with Hamilton only 0.014s further back in third. The Ferraris, it appeared, were in the hunt.

    Knocked out:

    Q3 – Vettel fails to deliver as Hamilton impresses yet again

    Hamilton lay down a brilliant marker with his first effort, a tenth of a second clear of Bottas with Leclerc more than half a second adrift after the first runs. Vettel heaped the pressure on his shoulders when he aborted his first run, leaving him with just one attempt to set a lap time.

    On the second runs, Bottas – the man with the most pole positions in 2019 heading to this race – made a mistake early on, easing the pressure on Hamilton, but the Briton – who was behind on track – kept his foot in to improve on his leading time by just over a tenth to reinforce his supreme performance.

    Leclerc never looked likely to challenge the Mercedes in the shoot-out, but secured third. His team mate Vettel couldn’t match him, and ended up seventh. The story of the day, though, was McLaren – who secured their best qualifying result since Jenson Button’s third place in the 2016 Austrian GP.

    Norris popped in the sixth-best time, which was just 0.011s slower than Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in fifth, with Sainz slotting comfortably into seventh. Ricciardo, running Renault’s ‘spec B’ engine was eighth, with Gasly ninth and Giovinazzi out-qualifying team mate Raikkonen for the second successive race in 10th.

  2. Formula 1 championship leader Lewis Hamilton says he headed into the French Grand Prix weekend feeling “crap”, which was reflected in a couple of ambiguous social media posts on Friday night.

    Five-time world champion Hamilton missed Thursday’s media day in the Paul Ricard paddock, with Mercedes’ permission, to attend the memorial service for fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld in Paris.

    On the same day, the FIA summoned Ferrari to a hearing over the Italian team’s petition for a review into Sebastian Vettel’s Canadian Grand Prix penalty, which handed Hamilton the win in Montreal.

    At 3am on Friday, Hamilton wrote two posts on Instagram, the first one of which read: “3am wide awake. Already feel like I know what’s going to happen tomorrow [Friday]. So much hate in this world. No matter what, you can’t hold a brother down! I will rise above it all, always.”

    After Saturday’s qualifying, Hamilton explained that multiple factors had combined to leave him with “lots on my mind, it wasn’t necessarily about [Ferrari’s bid for a review], it’s some other things that were going on”.

    Asked by Motorsport.com if he was worried about the reaction he would get for attending the memorial instead of being at the circuit, or something else, Hamilton said that “even if you feel crap, it’s not a bad time to say something motivational – and that’s where I was”.

    “I think the weekend started off a little different,” he said. “We arrive usually on Thursday morning or Wednesday night. I got here on Thursday evening.

    “We got through our programme no problem, but if you’re used to a normal four-day programme and you change it, it’s not always the easiest.

    “It was definitely odd coming here knowing Ferrari was spending time focusing on something else.

    “With my team, I would have them focusing on trying to improve the car.

    “But then we came here, had that, and when I arrived and heard it was Karun Chandhok’s video that was the new evidence, then I was pretty relaxed after that, and I just put it behind me.”

    Hamilton, who ultimately beat teammate Valtteri Bottas to French GP pole, referenced the boos he received at the previous race, saying that criticism spurs him on, along with the support he receives from trackside fans and those online.

    He insisted that the Ferrari petition for a review – which ultimately failed – “wasn’t what kept me up” after travelling from Paris to Paul Ricard, in the south of France, on Thursday.

    “I was tossing and turning and I was awake and when you’re awake, and you’re frustrated not being able to sleep, your mind rattles,” he said.

    “Nonetheless I got really great messages from friends who naturally worry when I post something like that!

    “It was kind of words of empowerment, how I sometimes get low and then I’ll fight through it.

    “I got a lot of positive responses from fans, who said ‘I’m going through a difficult time right now but you just lifted me up’.

    “That’s a great feeling when that happens. My friends did the same for me: lifted me up, I came in and had a good day yesterday. I came in today on a real positive.”

    Source: Motorsport.com

  3. Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas admitted that the changing wind conditions hampered his pole position chances. Motorsport.com has the full story.

    Valtteri Bottas says changing wind conditions in French GP qualifying cost him a chance to beat teammate Lewis Hamilton to pole position.

    The Finn had looked to hold the edge over Hamilton heading into the Q3 shoot out session, but says his hopes were dashed when a change of wind direction meant gains in the chicane were wiped away on his first run.

    “From my side, Q3, the first lap felt okay but the wind direction changed throughout qualifying and in Turns 8 and 9 [the chicane], I think I was kind of struggling all weekend a little bit but at some point I found some good lines there,” explained the Finn, who ended up qualifying second.

    “But they didn’t work with that wind direction, so it was small details here and there, not massive things.”

    Bottas said that his hopes of improving on his second run were then wiped away by the lack of a tow.

    “On the second run I was a bit unlucky with no cars ahead,” he said. “I got no tow at all and was losing out on all the straights.

    “I tried to make most out of the losses in the last few corners and lost it, so it is unfortunate. I was hoping to be on pole but second is a good place here as it is a long run into turn one.”

    Hamilton admitted that he had had to be “dynamic” to adjust his driving to the changing wind conditions – but in the end he too had had one of the best laps of his career wrecked by a gust on his second Q3 effort.

    “In Q1 and Q2, Valtteri had the edge and I was still dialling in the car, and once I got into Q3 I knew where I had to find the time and I just had to go and do it,” he said.

    “My first lap was fantastic, I was really, really happy with it, but it was still relatively close and I had to find some more areas where I could improve.

    “So I went out for the second run and I was on for one of the best laps I’ve done for a long time…I was up I think four-and-a-half-tenths coming to the second to last corner and it is really gusty out there and I just lost the back end either through that or going too quick.”

  4. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc explains why he asked his team to hurry up Sebastian Vettel during the qualifying session. Motorsport.com has the details.

    Charles Leclerc says his radio references to Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel during French GP qualifying were because he was worried he would run out of time to start a lap.

    Leclerc, who qualified third, was heard twice asking the team to encourage Vettel – the car immediately ahead – to go faster and open a bigger gap.

    However, he insisted that the German had not compromised his laps in any way.

    “No, not at all,” Leclerc said. “The only thing is that I think twice, I can’t remember when exactly, we were very tight on time to go through the finish line.

    “So that’s why I asked the team to say to Seb to just push, because I would be very tight on time, so that was the only reason. But no, he of course didn’t compromise my qualifying.”

    Leclerc noted that Ferrari was at a loss to explain why the car is losing out in Paul Ricard’s third sector.

    “I think it is general grip around the corners, to be honest. We’re quite quick in the straights, but in the corners, struggling a bit more.

    “This weekend there is something interesting that we didn’t understand completely yet.

    “In sector 1 or 2 we don’t seem to be too far off, or at least during the weekend in FP1, FP2 and FP3, but in sector 3 we are losing quite a lot actually, most of the time. We need to work on that, and try to understand where is the issue.”

    However, he was happy with his own performance.

    “I was completely aware that my weak point in the last few grands prix was putting the car in right window for Q3, so I worked on that and happy to see improvement.”

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