By Robert Haile
Red Bull’s impressive season continued as Max Verstappen beat Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton to take the teams first pole position at the Circuit Paul Ricard for the French Grand Prix today, June 19 since the track returned in 2018.
Championship leader Verstappen said: “To be able to put it on pole here, on a track that has not been our favourite in terms of performance, is very promising and a big boost for the Team. We really did not expect it so I am of course very happy. Everything has been working really well all weekend and from today even compared to yesterday we made a good improvement through hard work and maximising set-up.
“I was confident after FP3 (Free Practice 3) but you never really know where you are or what everyone else will bring in Qualifying, so we should be very happy with this performance so far. There is a long run to Turn 1 so we have to get a good start tomorrow and for sure they will be very close but our long run pace in FP2 (Free Practice 2) looked good so I expect another tight battle.”
The Mercedes driver wasn’t far behind in second with teammate Valtteri Bottas in third with Sergio Perez in fourth for Red Bull to put all the rival constructors drivers at the front.
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz was fifth ahead of Frenchman Pierre Gasly for AlphaTauri with pole setter at the last two Grand Prix Charles Leclerc for Ferrari in seventh.
McLaren’s Lando Norris and Daniel Riccairdo were split by Alpine’s Fernando Alonso in ninth.
Yuki Tsunoda for AlphaTauri session finished early spinning off the track in turn one to bring out a red flag in the first qualifying round.
As the session was coming to an end Mick Schumacher sitting in fourteenth for Haas crashed into the barrier bringing the session to close with Aston Martin Lance Stroll having not set a time meaning he joined Nikita Mazepin for Haas, Nicholas Latifi for Williams and Kimi Räikkönen for Alfa Romeo in going out in the first session.
While Schumacher who had made the second session would not run and start from fifteenth.
In the second session Esteban Ocon fresh from a new deal with Alpine just missed out on a spot in the final qualifying round with Sebastian Vettel for Aston Martin, Antonio Giovinazzi for Alfa Romeo and George Russell for Williams also missing out.
In the shoot out for pole Red Bull and Ferrari led with Carlos Sainz setting the early pace before Verstappen went fastest with Hamilton going close.
Pole Position – Max Verstappen Red Bull – 1:29.990
Q3 – Max Verstappen (Red Bull), Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes), Sergio Perez (Red Bull), Carlos Sainz (Ferrari), Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri), Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), Lando Norris (McLaren), Fernando Alonso (Alpine), Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren),
Q2 – Esteban Ocon (Alpine), Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin), Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo), George Russell (Williams), Mick Schumacher (Haas)
Q1 – Nicholas Latifi (Williams), Kimi Räikkönen (Alfa Romeo), Nikita Mazepin (Haas), Lance Stroll (Aston Martin), Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri)