Charles Leclerc clinched Ferrari’s first pole position at Paul Ricard since 1990, while rival Max Verstappen will join him in the front row for the 2022 French Grand Prix.
Under a blazing sun at the Circuit Paul Ricard, Leclerc took the lead in Q1 ahead of Verstappen while Carlos Sainz, who will start at the back for an engine penalty, won Q2 with a breathtaking lap.
Q3 saw Leclerc take advantage of a tow from Sainz for his fast two laps, with the Monegasque improving to 1m 30.872s to keep Verstappen behind by 0.304s. Sergio Perez finished third, 0.159 seconds behind his teammate, while Lewis Hamilton moved up to P4 with his final run.
Lando Norris managed to split the Mercedes into P5 for McLaren dropping George Russell to P6.
FP3: Verstappen leads Ferrari duo in final French Grand Prix practice
Running of the red bulls
Running of the red bulls
Fernando Alonso starts seventh just behind Norris – both Alpine and McLaren points clear 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 reached Q3 but did not emerge in the session.
Daniel Ricciardo missed Q3 by less than 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 Q2 by 0.06 seconds, while Zhou Guanyu’s oversteer saw him finish 18th for Alfa Romeo. Mick Schumacher’s brief encroachment on the track limits dropped him 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 on the grid for Sunday’s race.
Q1 – Verstappen leaves time on the table as Leclerc sets first benchmark
With the temperature and wind speed increasing, it was clear that qualifying would be a tough challenge for the peloton in France.
Charles Leclerc took the lead with his first flying lap, leaving Max Verstappen second by 0.164 seconds, and although the Dutchman attempted another lap he did not improve – even though his second sector was far superior to that of Leclerc and perhaps a bad omen…
Carlos Sainz was more than half a second behind in third, with the Scuderia driver starting at the back with engine penalties. Sergio Perez was fourth, 0.627 seconds off first place for Red Bull, while Lando Norris was the last driver within a second of P1 with fifth for McLaren.
Despite starting in the background for new powertrain components, Kevin Magnussen took sixth place with his only Q1 race, beating Alpine’s Fernando Alonso – who benefited from a strong tow from Verstappen – by 0.063 seconds. .
Valtteri Bottas finished eighth for Alfa Romeo, leaving Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton ninth and George Russell 10th – both more than 1.3 seconds off the pace.
After missing an opportunity to run on soft tires in FP3, Sebastian Vettel impressed for Aston Martin in 11th, leaving Alpine’s Esteban Ocon 12th and AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda 13th.
Daniel Ricciardo qualified for Q2 in P14 despite his second run being scored for the track limits; Alex Albon ignored his Turn 8 spin to take 15th for Williams.
In 16th, Pierre Gasly was eliminated in Q1 at home by just 0.06s from Albon, having set exactly the same time as Lance Stroll, the Aston Martin driver frustrated by traffic in P17.
A cruel slam of oversteer towards the Mistral straight saw Zhou Guanyu finish 18th, with Mick Schumacher having a lap time suppressed to send him from P11 to P19 and out of Q1 – with Nicholas Latifi last and 20th.
Eliminated: Gasly, Stroll, Zhou, Schumacher, Latifi
Q2 – Defiant Sainz aims for glory with a stunning ride
Sainz put on a show with his first run, setting a time of 1m 31.081s to hold off Verstappen by a staggering margin of 0.909s. Perez was a preliminary third, just 0.130 seconds behind his teammate, while Leclerc was still half a second behind in P4. As for Mercedes, neither Russell nor Hamilton were happy with their opening effort, 12th and 9th respectively.
Leclerc improved to within 0.135s of Sainz in his second run, leaving Verstappen third and Perez fourth – only the Mexican going out for a second run but not improving – as Hamilton ended up completing the top five .
Alonso shared the Mercedes, just 0.002 seconds ahead of seventh-placed Russell, while Magnussen moved up to 8th for Haas. Norris took ninth place and Tsunoda came into Q3 for the first time since Baku in P10 – Ricciardo missed by less than a tenth of a second.
Ocon couldn’t make it into Q3, finishing 12th ahead of Bottas, while Vettel and Albon were more than two seconds off the pace in 14th and 15th respectively. With Sainz starting at the back, all eyes will be on the Spaniard’s rapid progress on Sunday; Magnussen’s fast run in Q2 will also be cause for excitement.
The Haas and Ferrari also had the chance to upset their rivals in Q3…
Eliminated: Ricciardo, Ocon, Bottas, Vettel, Albon
Q3 – Ferrari teams up for Paul Ricard’s first pole since 1990
Ferrari’s game plan for Q3 was clear; they emerged in order for Sainz to tow Leclerc through the circuit’s long straights, with the Monegasque driver setting a provisional pole lap of 1m 31.209s. Verstappen was just 0.008 seconds behind, but he didn’t appreciate the tow on his move.
Perez was provisionally third, 0.431 seconds off P3, while Mercedes were on course for P4 and P5 with Russell ahead of Hamilton – both on worn tires for their first races.
The usual lull gave fans time to fan themselves in the relentless heat with Perez breaking the silence to drive a train of cars for the final laps. Ferrari continued their team play, Sainz towed Leclerc for round two; Verstappen emerged behind Leclerc, not Perez, for his second pole attempt.
Leclerc had the advantage and turned it into a chasm, improving to 1m 30.872s – thanking teammate Sainz on the radio – and keeping Verstappen behind by 0.304s, despite the Dutchman improving. Perez also improved but finished 0.159 seconds behind his teammate as he prepared to start on the second row.
Hamilton fitted a new set of softs and improved to P4, although found himself more than four tenths behind Perez, while McLaren’s Norris managed fifth to split the Mercedes drivers as Russell finished sixth . Alonso, in P7, starts behind Norris on Sunday, his Alpine side equal with McLaren on points currently, while Tsunoda managed P8 for AlphaTauri.
Sainz’s sacrifice saw him finish ninth in Q3, but he is preparing for a recovery mission on Sunday alongside Magnussen – who did not attempt a lap in Q3. Train face-to-face tomorrow in the front row it will therefore be Leclerc and Verstappen.
2022 French GP qualifying: Leclerc beats championship rival Verstappen for pole position
“It was a great round. I struggled all weekend to get a lap and I managed to do it, but I have to say I also had help from Carlos and it was amazing teamwork because without Carlos it would have been a lot closer, so big thanks to Carlos and hopefully he can join us in the fight for the win tomorrow” – Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
The French Grand Prix will start at 3:00 p.m. local time – or 1:00 p.m. UTC – with Leclerc and Verstappen set to battle it out from the front row once again, while Sainz will look to move up the field when the 53 rounds.