French GP Qualifying: Max Verstappen wins first F1 pole since season-opener, Lewis Hamilton second

French GP Qualifying: Max Verstappen wins first F1 pole since season-opener, Lewis Hamilton second


Watch Sunday’s race live only on Sky Sports F1 from 2pm, with build-up from Paul Ricard at 12.30pm

Last Updated: 19/06/21 3:30pm

Max Verstappen claimed a superb pole position to beat championship rival Lewis Hamilton to the head of the grid for Sunday’s French GP.

The F1 championship leader, who holds a slender four-point advantage over his British rival, topped qualifying for the first time since March’s season-opener in Bahrain to cap a strong weekend so far around a Paul Ricard circuit that Mercedes had dominated at since it returned to the sport three years ago.

Despite appearing off the pace through practice, Hamilton was a strong threat in the pole shootout and Verstappen required an improved final lap of 1:29.990 to see off the seven-time world champion by 0.258s.

“That was a good lap. Still over two tenths off?” asked Hamilton to his race engineer.

Valtteri Bottas had been the faster Mercedes driver through practice but slipped behind Hamilton in qualifying, although crucially took third from the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez with his final lap.

With the Baku victor fourth, Carlos Sainz impressed to take fifth for Ferrari – outqualifying team-mate Charles Leclerc for just the second time – with Pierre Gasly again running well for AlphaTauri in sixth.

Despite the Paul Ricard circuit being surrounded by expansive run-off areas, there were still two red flags in Q1 for crashes.

Haas' Mick Schumacher ended up in the barriers, bringing an end to the Q1 session at Circuit Paul Ricard

Sky Sports 1:46
Haas’ Mick Schumacher ended up in the barriers, bringing an end to the Q1 session at Circuit Paul Ricard

Haas’ Mick Schumacher ended up in the barriers, bringing an end to the Q1 session at Circuit Paul Ricard

AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda condemned himself to a back-of-the-grid start after spinning out at the first corner at the start of his first lap, while fellow rookie Mick Schumacher later crashed his Haas at the end of the session at Turn Six.

Schumacher was battling to hold on to a maiden Q2 position at the time and, although his crash meant he kept hold of the place, he was unable to take part in the second stage after striking the barriers.

With a minute on the clock, there was not enough time for the session to be restarted and Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll, who did not have a lap time on the board at the time, lost out to significant effect in 19th place.

Sky F1's Karun Chandhok looks at what went wrong for Yuki Tsunoda in Q1 at the French Grand Prix

Sky Sports 1:16
Sky F1’s Karun Chandhok looks at what went wrong for Yuki Tsunoda in Q1 at the French Grand Prix

Sky F1’s Karun Chandhok looks at what went wrong for Yuki Tsunoda in Q1 at the French Grand Prix

More to follow…

French GP Qualifying results

1) Max Verstappen, Red Bull
2) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
3) Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes
4) Sergio Perez, Red Bull
5) Carlos Sainz, Ferrari
6) Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri
7) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
8) Lando Norris, McLaren
9) Fernando Alonso, Alpine
10) Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren
Knocked out in Q2
11) Esteban Ocon, Alpine
12) Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin
13) Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo
14) George Russell, Williams
15) Mick Schumacher, Haas
Knocked out in Q1
16) Nicholas Latifi, Williams
17) Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo
18) Nikita Mazepin, Haas
19) Lance Stroll, Aston Martin
20) Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri





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