By Robert Haile
Charles Leclerc took Ferrari’ first pole position at the Circuit Paul Ricard since 1990 in the French Grand Prix.
It’s not all sunshine as Carlos Sainz starts at the back due to engine penalties and both Red Bulls will be in pursuit.
Pole sitter Leclerc said: “Leading up to this afternoon, it had been quite a difficult weekend for me. I struggled with the balance and knew that in this kind of heat, you pay the price for the smallest mistake because your tyres overheat.
“Today, I felt good building up to that last lap in Q3. Carlos gave me a nice tow, which helped me to have a bigger margin and seal pole position. It was a good qualifying with great teamwork behind it.
“Our competitors are extremely strong here. It seems that they have an advantage in terms of race pace, but I’m confident we can turn it around and hopefully we will keep that first place tomorrow.”
There was disappointment for the home fans as AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly went out in sixteenth with Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll seventeenth on the same time as the Frenchman.
Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu had a snap of oversteer onto the Mistral Straight leaving him in eighteenth with Mick Schumacher dropped to nineteenth after his Haas crossed track limits.
Nicholas Latifi’s Williams finished in twentieth.
Heading into the second session Sainz continued to show the pace of his Ferrari topping the timesheet.
At the other end Daniel Ricciardo’ McLaren fell short by a tenth of a second as AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda made it through to the top ten shootout.
The other Frenchman in the field finished in twelfth as Alpine’ Esteban Ocon couldn’t improve.
They were joined by Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas, Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel and Williams’ Alex Albon.
With Sainz starting at the back he just needed to out qualify Haas’ Kevin Magnussen who would also start at the back.
This gave a clear plan for Ferrari as Sainz came out in front of Leclerc to help the Monegasque driver take pole.
Max Verstappen will start second with Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez in third.
The Mercedes’ duo were split by Lando Norris’ McLaren as Lewis Hamilton took fourth.
Alpine’s Fernando Alonso gave the home fans something to cheer as the Spanish driver put the French team in seventh behind Mercedes George Russell.
Tsunoda took eighth as Sainz and Magnussen took the last two places.
French Grand Prix Grid
- Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
- Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
- Sergio Perez (Red Bull)
- Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
- Lando Norris (McLaren)
- George Russell (Mercedes)
- Fernando Alonso (Alpine)
- Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri)
- Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren)
- Esteban Ocon (Alpine)
- Vallteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo)
- Sebastian Vettel (Aston Marin)
- Alex Albon (Williams)
- Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri)
- Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)
- Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo)
- Mick Schumacher (Haas)
- Nicholas Latifi (Williams)
- Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)
- Kevin Magnussen (Haas)