Leclerc takes French Grand Prix pole thanks to his Ferrari teammate

Charles Leclerc beat championship rival Max Verstappen to take pole position for the French Grand Prix as Ferrari used slipstream tactics with Carlos Sainz to help capture P1.

Sergio Perez completed the top three for Red Bull as Sainz’s running on used tyres meant he qualifying ninth but will drop to the back of the grid thanks to Ferrari fitting a fresh power unit for this event after his Austria DNF.

Leclerc led after the first runs in Q3, but only by 0.008 seconds over Verstappen as the Ferraris ran line astern to try and negate Red Bull’s top speed advantage with its potent Honda engine and lower-drag rear wing.

On the second runs, Sainz again ran ahead of Leclerc in the pack, the latter dropping back ahead of the final corners on their out-laps to avoid dirty air from his teammate disrupting his progress through the opening turns.

But, as he had done on the first Q3 fliers, Sainz slowed exiting the chicane midway down the Mistral straight and then towed his teammate down the rest of the straight, through the rapid Signes right before pulling over just before Le Beausset.

Leclerc then rocketed to the fastest time in the third sector, having already beaten his previous session-leading time in sector one, to put in a one minute, 30.872 seconds.

That ended up being 0.304 seconds clear of Verstappen after the world champion could not reproduce his best times in the opening two sectors.

Behind Perez came Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris, with George Russell sixth for Mercedes.

Then came Fernando Alonso and Yuki Tsunoda, with Sainz finishing ahead of Kevin Magnussen, who did not run in Q3 as he too will drop to the back of the grid having likewise taken a new engine this weekend.

In Q2, topped by Sainz with a one minute, 31.081 seconds, Daniel Ricciardo’s personal best at the last was not enough to get into the top ten, with all of the eliminated drivers doing likewise having run ahead of the Australian, who was the last to cross the line.

Esteban Ocon had led the pack around for the final laps and did leap up the order having been in the drop zone after the first Q2 runs, but he was shuffled back to P12 ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Sebastian Vettel.

Alex Albon finished P15 for Williams – having got through to Q2 after Mick Schumacher lost his final Q1 lap to a track limits violation.

Albon had been unable to set a final Q1 time after he lost the rear of his car exiting the Turn 8 part of the chicane that breaks up the Mistral straight and spun.

In Q1, which Leclerc topped with the fastest lap of the weekend at that stage on his first flier, Pierre Gasly was knocked out in P16 ahead of Lance Stroll, who set an identical lap time right at the end of the segment but lost out because he did it second, the Aston Martin driver ruing catching traffic in the final turns.

Zhou Guanyu ended up P18 having led the pack to the chequered flag, but failed to set a personal best on his final lap after catching a wild oversteer snap through the long, fast Turn 6 right that feeds in the Turn 7 kink on the Mistral straight.

Zhou said he “nearly spun” catching the moment, with his previous personal best good enough for P18 ahead of Schumacher and Nicholas Latifi, who both set their quickest times at the end of Q1.

Schumacher’s one minute, 33.114 seconds jumped him the order and put Albon temporarily into 16th, but running too far over the white line on the inside of Turn 3 meant his effort was deleted and he had to exit the session despite Haas’s protestations about the marginal call with the FIA.

Ricciardo and Tsunoda also had their final Q1 laps deleted for track limits infractions at Turns 6 and 3 respectively, but their previous best times were enough to see them through.

So excellent team play with Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc in using the tow effort and helping Leclerc to take pole position. Sainz has grid penalties due to power unit changes but did a perfect job in scoring a result for Scuderia Ferrari in qualifying.

French Grand Prix, qualifying results:
1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:30.872
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:31.176
3 Sergio Perez Red Bull 1:31.335
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:31.765
5 Lando Norris McLaren 1:32.032
6 George Russell Mercedes 1:32.131
7 Fernando Alonso Alpine 1:32.552
8 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1:32.780
9 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 1:32.922
10 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:33.048
11 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 1:33.052
12 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 1:33.276
13 Alex Albon Williams 1:33.307
14 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1:33.439
15 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:33.439
16 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 1:33.674
17 Mick Schumacher Haas 1:33.701
18 Nicholas Latifi Williams 1:33.794
19 Carlos Sainz Ferrari No time*
20 Kevin Magnussen Haas No time*
*Grid penalty for changing power unit

4 thoughts to “Leclerc takes French Grand Prix pole thanks to his Ferrari teammate”

  1. French Grand Prix qualifying review as reported by

    Charles Leclerc took Ferrari’s first pole position at Paul Ricard since 1990, while rival Max Verstappen will join him on the front row for the 2022 French Grand Prix.

    With the sun blazing down on the Circuit Paul Ricard, Leclerc topped Q1 ahead of Verstappen while Carlos Sainz, who will start at the back for engine penalties, aced Q2 with a stunning lap.

    Q3 saw Leclerc enjoy a tow off Sainz for both his flying laps, the Monegasque improving to a 1m 30.872s to keep Verstappen behind by 0.304s. Sergio Perez finished third, 0.159s off his team mate, while Lewis Hamilton improved to P4 with his final run.

    Lando Norris managed to split the Mercedes in P5 for McLaren as he dropped George Russell down to P6.

    Fernando Alonso starts seventh right behind Norris – both Alpine and McLaren level on points ahead of the French GP – while Yuki Tsunoda qualified eighth.

    Sainz sacrificed his Q3 to take P9 for Ferrari but, thanks to engine penalties, will start at the back with Kevin Magnussen, who made it to Q3 but didn’t emerge in the session.

    Daniel Ricciardo missed out on Q3 by under a tenth of a second in P11, while Esteban Ocon qualified P12 on the road for Alpine at home. Valtteri Bottas finished 13th in qualifying, leaving Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel 14th and Williams’ Alex Albon 15th.

    Pierre Gasly and Lance Stroll (16th and 17th, respectively) missed out on Q2 by 0.06s, while oversteer for Zhou Guanyu saw him finish 18th for Alfa Romeo. Mick Schumacher’s brief encroachment of track limits dropped him down to 19th and out of Q1, while Nicholas Latifi was 20th.

    With penalties for Sainz and Magnussen, of course, those eliminated in Q2 and Q3 will see a bump up the grid for Sunday’s race.

    Q1 – Verstappen leaves time on the table as Leclerc sets the early benchmark

    With temperature and wind speed rising, it was clear that qualifying would be a mighty challenge for the field in France.

    Charles Leclerc took top spot with his first flying lap, leaving Max Verstappen second by 0.164s, and though the Dutchman attempted another lap, he didn’t improve – though his second sector was far superior to Leclerc’s and perhaps an ominous sign…

    Carlos Sainz was over half a second back in third, the Scuderia driver to start at the back with engine penalties. Sergio Perez was fourth, 0.627s off top spot for Red Bull, while Lando Norris was the last driver within a second of P1 with fifth for McLaren.

    Despite his back-of-grid start for new power unit components, Kevin Magnussen took sixth with his sole run of Q1, beating Alpine’s Fernando Alonso – who enjoyed a solid tow from Verstappen – by 0.063s.

    Valtteri Bottas was eighth for Alfa Romeo, leaving Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton ninth and George Russell 10th – both over 1.3s off the pace.

    Having missed a chance to run soft tyres in FP3, Sebastian Vettel impressed for Aston Martin in 11th, to leave Alpine’s Esteban Ocon 12th and AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda 13th.

    Daniel Ricciardo made it through to Q2 in P14 despite having his second run chalked off for track limits; Alex Albon shrugged off his Turn 8 spin to take P15 for Williams.

    In 16th, Pierre Gasly was eliminated in Q1 at home by just 0.06s to Albon, having set exactly the same time as Lance Stroll, the Aston Martin driver frustrated by traffic in P17.

    A cruel snap of oversteer heading onto the Mistral Straight saw Zhou Guanyu finish 18th, Mick Schumacher having a lap time deleted to send him from P11 to P19 and out of Q1 – with Nicholas Latifi last and 20th.

    Knocked out: Gasly, Stroll, Zhou, Schumacher, Latifi

    Q2 – Defiant Sainz goes for glory with stunning lap

    Sainz put on a show with his first run, setting a time of 1m 31.081s to keep Verstappen at bay by a staggering margin of 0.909s. Perez was a preliminary third, just 0.130s behind his team mate, while Leclerc was another half-second behind in P4. As for Mercedes, neither Russell nor Hamilton was happy with their opening effort, in 12th and ninth respectively.

    Leclerc improved to within 0.135s of Sainz on his second run, leaving Verstappen third and Perez fourth – only the Mexican coming out for a second run but failing to improve – as Hamilton ended out rounding out the top five.

    Alonso split the Mercedes, just 0.002s ahead of seventh-placed Russell, while Magnussen made it to P8 for Haas. Norris took ninth and Tsunoda made it to Q3 for the first time since Baku in P10 – Ricciardo missing out by under a tenth of a second.

    Ocon couldn’t make it to Q3, finishing 12th ahead of Bottas, while Vettel and Albon were over two seconds off the pace in 14th and 15th respectively. With Sainz starting at the back, all eyes will be on the swift Spaniard’s progress on Sunday; Magnussen’s rapid run in Q2 will be cause for excitement too.

    Both the Haas and the Ferrari had a chance to upset their rivals in Q3, too…

    Knocked out: Ricciardo, Ocon, Bottas, Vettel, Albon

    Q3 – Ferrari team up for first Paul Ricard pole since 1990

    Ferrari’s gameplan for Q3 was clear; they emerged in sequence for Sainz to tow Leclerc through the circuit’s long straights, the Monegasque driver setting a provisional pole lap of 1m 31.209s. Verstappen was just 0.008s off – but he hadn’t enjoyed a tow on his go.

    Perez was a provisional third, 0.431s off in P3, while the Mercedes were on course for P4 and P5 with Russell ahead of Hamilton – both on used tyres for their first runs.

    The customary lull gave fans time to fan themselves in the unrelenting heat with Perez breaking the silence to lead a train of cars out for the final runs. Ferrari continued their team game, Sainz to give Leclerc a tow for the second run; Verstappen emerged behind Leclerc, not Perez, for his second attempt at pole.

    Leclerc had the edge and turned it into a gulf, improving to 1m 30.872s – thanking his team mate Sainz over the radio – and keeping Verstappen behind by 0.304s, despite the Dutchman improving. Perez also improved but ended up 0.159s off his team mate as he prepares to start on the second row.

    Hamilton equipped a new set of softs and improved to P4, though he ended up over four-tenths off Perez, while McLaren’s Norris managed fifth to split the Mercedes drivers as Russell ended up sixth. Alonso, in P7, starts behind Norris on Sunday, his Alpine squad equal with McLaren on points currently, while Tsunoda managed P8 for AlphaTauri.

    Sainz’s sacrifice saw him end up ninth in Q3 but he gears up for a recovery mission on Sunday alongside Magnussen – who didn’t attempt a lap in Q3. Going tete-a-tete tomorrow from the front row will therefore be Leclerc and Verstappen.

  2. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was left feeling surprised at Ferrari strength in French Grand Prix qualifying. has the news story.

    Charles Leclerc says he was immediately “surprised” in qualifying about how quick Ferrari was, after he grabbed pole position for Formula 1’s French Grand Prix.

    The Monegasque driver had looked set to be forced to play second fiddle to main rival Red Bull after Max Verstappen had looked super strong in final free practice.

    But Leclerc’s Ferrari came alive in the later qualifying session as, thanks to a bit of assistance in getting a tow off teammate Carlos Sainz, he took his seventh pole position of the season.

    “After Q1, I think I was very surprised by the pace we had,” he said “I mean, also in Q2, we were very strong. So somehow we managed to turn that around for qualifying, but it’s a good surprise.”

    While the tow he got from Sainz probably did not make the difference in securing Leclerc pole position, he admitted that things would have been much more on edge without it.

    “It was a great lap,” he explained. “I’ve struggled all weekend to put a lap together and I managed to put it, but I have to say that I also had the help of Carlos, and that was an amazing teamwork.

    “Without Carlos it will have been much more close. So yeah, huge thanks to Carlos. And I hope that he can join us back in the fight for the win tomorrow.”

    Verstappen blamed a lack of grip for not being able to do better in qualifying, as he eventually ended up with the second placed slot for Sunday’s race.

    Asked if he was disappointed after looking so strong in final practice, Verstappen said: “Well, FP3 is not qualifying, clearly, but overall, I think we were lacking a bit in qualifying, just general grip.

    “It was a bit more tricky than I think I would have hoped. But overall, I think we still have a decent race car. And hopefully, of course, tomorrow will come to our favour. I mean, we are quick on the straights. Hopefully, we can use that tomorrow.”

    Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez, who will line up third, praised an impressive return to form for joining the fight at the front, after what he felt had been his worst weekend of preparations up until qualifying.

    “It’s been a good recovery,” said the Mexican. “I’ve been nowhere the whole weekend to be honest. I’ve been struggling a lot. I think probably it has been my worst weekend up to qualifying really. And finally we managed to recover well.”

  3. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton admits that a win is “going to be a while” if French Grand Prix form continues. has the full details.

    Lewis Hamilton believes it is “going to be a while” until Mercedes can fight for Formula 1 wins if its France form continues after qualifying over eight tenths off pole.

    Mercedes arrived at Paul Ricard hopeful of taking a step toward front-running rivals Red Bull and Ferrari thanks to the smooth surface and track layout that was tipped to play to the strengths of the W13.

    But Mercedes failed to get in the thick of the fight at the front through practice before Hamilton and teammate George Russell could only manage fourth and sixth places respectively in qualifying.

    Hamilton said he felt “really good” on his final lap in Q3, calling it a “beautiful lap”, only to end up 0.893 seconds off Charles Leclerc’s pole position time for Ferrari.

    “For whatever reason, we seem to be a lot further off this weekend, but then the whole pack is really,” Hamilton said.

    “The top two teams are in their own league really. But considering I missed FP1, which definitely does put you on the back foot, I’m really happy with the progress we made, and everyone back at the factory was working really hard with us to make progress.

    “We took a step back today, but into qualifying I managed to turn it up.”

    Mercedes is yet to finish a race any higher than third this year, but Hamilton has been adamant the team will be able to get back into the fight for victories before the season is out.

    Asked if he could pinpoint when that win may arrive, Hamilton replied: “Honestly, I came here this weekend hoping that we were going to be within three tenths of them, and we’re a second [off].

    “So with the three tenths that I was hoping for, and if at the next race we can close a couple of tenths, then we’ll be in the fight in Budapest.

    “But if it’s anything like this, then it’s going to be a while. But it’s not impossible.”

    Hamilton put the gap to Ferrari and Red Bull down to loss on the straights, noting that his first sector time on his final Q3 lap was “just as quick as those guys.”

    “But then it’s all down the straights, we lose a lot,” Hamilton said. “I don’t know what the time is, but it must be at least half a second probably just down the straights.

    “And then all through that high-speed section, the last few corners, they’re pulling chunks on us. It’s like they have less drag and more downforce through the corners.”

    Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff echoed Hamilton’s concerns about how far off a win may be, saying the team had arrived in France “thinking we would race for victory” only to end up “further off than we were before.”

    “I hope at the other [tracks] we can have the same swing the other direction,” Wolff said.

    “We will find out what happened here and if it’s clearly something fundamental, and then [we can] race for victories this year.

    “This needs to be still the target because we need direction for next year.”

  4. Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen commented that his RB18’s top-speed advantage will help in French Grand Prix Ferrari battle. has the full story.

    Max Verstappen has explained how Red Bull’s strong top speed may help it beat Ferrari in Formula 1’s French Grand Prix, as pole-winner Charles Leclerc will lose Ferrari’s corner-speed advantage.

    Verstappen topped FP3 but wound up qualifying behind his title rival, who was boosted by Ferrari deploying tow tactics considering Carlos Sainz’s upcoming engine-change penalty.

    Red Bull has been running a lower-drag wing arrangement at Paul Ricard, which resulted in Verstappen and teammate Sergio Perez heading every top speed measuring point in qualifying as it is allied to the team’s rebadged Honda engine’s potent power output.

    At the Paul Ricard speed trap just before the Mistral chicane, Perez had a 3.8mph advantage over Leclerc in qualifying when all engine modes are at their optimum and fuel is at its lowest, while Verstappen was quicker by 3.7mph.

    The low-drag approach means it is harder for drivers to build the critical tyre temperature required to nail the technical opening sector at the French track, but it will come into its own in the race for Red Bull as the higher-downforce-running Ferrari will not be able to use DRS to shed drag unless its cars are running close behind others.

    As per GPS track data has seen, Ferrari has also been clocked running much faster through the high-speed corners around Paul Ricard – notably Signes and Le Beausset, where in the latter its gains were thought to be around 6mph in FP2.

    But the Ferrari drivers will likely not be able to push flat out in the race using their higher-downforce advantage without eating through their front tyres, which will also wear correspondingly faster as Ferrari seems to be heating its tyres better than Red Bull.

    A similar situation cost the then dominant Mercedes squad in the 2020 70th Anniversary GP, where Verstappen won after his persistence and better tyre wear paid off.

    When asked if he expects Red Bull’s wing choice to help in Sunday’s race by, Verstappen replied: “I hope so.

    “We seem again very quick on the straight, which is a nice bonus. But I think overall we need to look a bit into our high-speed performance.

    “Overall, whatever wing we’ve put on the car we’ve always been struggling a bit in the high-speed compared to Ferrari.

    “But, around here the tyres are going to be incredibly hot tomorrow and you cannot push the high-speed as much as you of course do over a quali lap.

    “So, then I hope that top speed can help us out a bit more than over a qualifying lap where you also have DRS at some places.”

    Verstappen also felt “low-speed grip, for me compared to yesterday” was better for qualifying as he had struggled with understeer through the first sector in Friday practice – not helped by his tyre warm-up woes.

    The world champion said these remained in qualifying, where his car balance not being where he wanted also contributed to his defeat against Leclerc.

    The Paul Ricard qualifying result reflected one of the 2022 season’s trends – Verstappen ending up unhappy with his car balance, which is also not helped by the RB18 still being slightly overweight and his dislike of the additional understeer the ground-effect cars have in slow-speed turns.

    “Overall, with the conditions out there it’s very difficult to really know what is going to happen,” he said in the post-qualifying press conference.

    “It’s so hot out there and also with the tyres – to get them in the right window is very tough.

    “Qualifying for myself was a bit of a struggle to get the right balance to be honest. Just not having that grip I want to – especially in Q3 when you really want to push it.

    “But maybe it’s just related to the track layout, the surface, together with the heat, that it just doesn’t really – whatever – suit the car, suit my driving style. I don’t know.

    “But I think overall, to be second is still pretty good.”

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