Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen was fastest in today's qualifying for the French Grand Prix. The Dutchman secured pole position for tomorrow's race, starting ahead of Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.
Qualifying had only just gone underway when on the first flying lap, Tsunoda found himself backwards into the tyre barriers at Turn 3. The rookie had taken a bit too much kerb on the entry of Turn 2, and as a result lost the rear of his AlphaTauri. He remained in the car to try to get back into first gear, but as he failed, he had to admit defeat.
Meanwhile, the session was stopped, and restarted 11 minutes later, releasing a queue of cars at the end of the pitlane. Clearly, the busy situation caused some drivers to get caught in traffic on their first laps, forcing them to more. Leclerc and Alonso were among them, but both managed to sort the problem a little bit later.
Mercedes were strong again, but it was Red Bull who emerged fastest, with Verstappen initially taking 7 tenths out of Hamilton's best. The latter later improved to be within 0.25s, but it still remained a considerable margin.
Lance Stroll opted to go out late, avoid traffic issues, but when he went off at Turn 2 on his first flying lap, the decision turned against him as the session was stopped early due to a crash by Haas's Mick Schumacher. The German lost the rear at Turn 6, clipping the barriers with the rear of his VF-21 before breaking the front suspension as well.
With just 22 seconds left on the clock, the session didn't get restarted, leaving Stroll 19th and eliminated along with Latifi, Raikkonen, Mazepin and Tsunoda of course.
Q2 saw most drivers go out on mediums. Only Williams' George Russell opted for a used set of softs.
This time around, Perez topped Verstappen while Mercedes opted to come out a bit later in the session. When they did, Bottas ended up 5th, in between Sainz and Gasly while Hamilton moved atop the timing sheet, edging out Perez by just 0.012s.
At the end, Perez and Ricciardo still opted to go out on the softs, but neither set a time on those tyres as it was unneeded to go through into Q3. Bottas also didn't really need an improvement, but his second lap on the mediums proved a lot better and put him on top, 0.053s faster than his own teammate at Mercedes.
Other than that there were no position changes in the top 10, leaving Ocon, Vettel and Giovinazzi eliminated by 2 tenths. Russell was a bit further behind while Schumacher ends qualifying in 15th following his crash at the end of Q1.
The final part of qualifying saw Gasly queue at the end of the pitlane to be first out on track, and he did indeed set the first lap, only to have it removed after not respecting track limits. Both McLarens followed closely behind. Red Bull were a bit later and shadowed by the Mercedes duo.
The first laps saw Verstappen emerged quickest, nearly 4 tenths ahead of Hamilotn, 5 ahead of Perez and 8 ahead of Bottas and Sainz.
The second outing had everybody on the softs - after Alonso and Ricciardo did their first laps on the medium tyres - and following excruciatingly slow out laps, they all kicked off another lap to find some further improvements.
Verstappen did make an improvement, but so did both Mercedes and Sergio Perez. For the top two it didn't change that much as Verstappen confirmed pole ahead of Hamilton. Bottas improved to third, relegating Perez to fourth.
Carlos Sainz maintained 5th and Pierre Gasly made up for his earlier mistake to take 6th. Charles Leclerc, who struggled with understeer throughout qualifying found another few tenths to move up into 7th, leaving Norris, Alonso and Ricciardo to complete the top 10.
|1||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:31.001||1:31.080||1:29.990||16|
|4||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:31.560||1:30.971||1:30.445||16|
|6||10||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri Honda||1:31.898||1:31.353||1:30.868||22|
|8||4||Lando Norris||McLaren Mercedes||1:31.733||1:31.542||1:31.252||18|
|9||14||Fernando Alonso||Alpine Renault||1:32.158||1:31.549||1:31.340||17|
|10||3||Daniel Ricciardo||McLaren Mercedes||1:32.181||1:31.615||1:31.382||21|
|11||31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault||1:32.139||1:31.736||-||10|
|12||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:32.132||1:31.767||-||12|
|13||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||1:32.722||1:31.813||-||13|
|14||63||George Russell||Williams Mercedes||1:33.060||1:32.065||-||13|
|15||47||Mick Schumacher||Haas Ferrari||1:32.942||-||-||7|
|16||6||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes||1:33.062||-||-||7|
|17||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||1:33.354||-||-||7|
|18||9||Nikita Mazepin||Haas Ferrari||1:33.554||-||-||7|
|NC||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Mercedes||2:12.584||-||-||7|
|RT||22||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri Honda||-||-||-||2|