Verstappen on pole for French GP

Verstappen on pole for French GP

Verstappen will start ahead of the Mercedes cars of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas after the one-hour qualifying session, which is split into three segments with five cars each being knocked out in Q1 and Q2 before the top-10 shootout of Q3.

What happened in Q1?

Yuki Tsunoda caused an early red flag when he spun his AlphaTauri at Turn 1 and glanced the tyrewall with his rear wing. Tsunoda was unable to engage first gear, after the rear axle of the car shook violently as he slid backwards, and was out of the session just moments after it had begun.

When it resumed, Bottas set the initial pace at 1m31.669s, with Hamilton just 0.023s slower. Then Verstappen reset the bar at 1m31.001s – 0.668s faster than the Merc duo – with Sergio Perez backing him up in second, 0.559s off his teammate’s pace.

Hamilton stayed out for a second push lap, producing 1m31.237s to jump up to second, but was still 0.236s shy of Verstappen.

A second red flag in the closing minute of the session, for Mick Schumacher crashing his Haas, meant that falling at the first hurdle were Williams’ Nicholas Latifi (by just 0.002s), Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen and the second Haas of Nikita Mazepin, Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll (who lost one laptime due to exceeding track limits and another due to hitting traffic), plus Tsunoda.

Schumacher made it through to Q2 for the first time, in 14th position, but wouldn’t be taking part due to a damaging both left-side corners of his car against the Armco.

What happened in Q2?

In Q2 the vast majority of the field went out on medium tyres, to avoid starting on the softs if they qualified for the top-10 shootout.

Perez set the benchmark at 1m30.971s, a tenth faster than Verstappen. Hamilton then jumped to the top on his second push lap, producing 1m30.959s – 0.012s faster than Perez.

Bottas went fastest on his second medium-tyred run, his 1m30.735s being 0.053s faster than Hamilton’s 1m30.788s.

Knocked out at this point were Alpine’s Esteban Ocon, Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel, Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo), George Russell (Williams) and Schumacher.

What happened in Q3?

In the top-10 shootout, Verstappen set the pace after the first run with a time of 1m30.325s, 0.386s ahead of Hamilton, followed by Perez and Bottas. Carlos Sainz was best of the rest for Ferrari.

On the second runs, Verstappen lowered the P1 time to 1m29.990s. Hamilton’s best effort was 1m30.248s, 0.258s down. Bottas grabbed third from Perez, with Sainz again leading the rest.

Pierre Gasly lost his first laptime for exceeding track limits at Turn 6, but jumped back to sixth for AlphaTauri, ahead of Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), Lando Norris (McLaren), Fernando Alonso (Alpine) and Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren).


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