Leclerc beats Verstappen to take first place in French F1 GP
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Leclerc beats Verstappen to take first place in French F1 GP

Leclerc beats Verstappen and signs (...]

After two free sessions dominated by Ferrari on Friday, one would think that Charles Leclerc would be the big favorite for pole position. But in EL3, Red Bull and Max Verstappen showed a more encouraging performance.

Therefore, it is difficult to know who Leclerc or Verstappen will be in first place after qualifying. Carlos Sainz will start from the back of the net due to a penalty in the engine, while Sergio Pérez appears to have been swinging since the start of the weekend.

At the back, the peloton battle promises to be tough, even if Mercedes F1 is usually supposed to be the third powerhouse in a rather obvious way. Then Haas F1 and AlphaTauri were the most impressive at the start of the weekend, even if the US team was off this morning. In general, times are very tight between all teams.

Note that, like Sainz, Kevin Magnussen will be sent to the back of the net on Sunday. Thus the two men can decide to save their drive and not aim for the highest place on the net in terms of lap times.

Q1 – 18 minutes

It was a little cooler than yesterday afternoon when the playoffs started, with 31 points in the air. However, the asphalt suffered from the scorching sun at Le Castellet and the track rose to 56 degrees.

Mick Schumacher set his first time of the course at 1’33” 858, beating a 14K from Lance Stroll. Sebastian Vettel finished last before Pierre Gasly led in 1’33” 696.

But it was Charles Leclerc who set the first clear reference at 1’31” 727, well ahead of the drivers in the middle of the group. Sergio Perez was provisional second six-tenths behind Monaco, while Yuki Tsunoda was ten-tenths ahead of Gasly.

Valtteri Bottas came third and Khamanio Cho fifth, while Verstappen and the Mercedes F1 drivers attacked the clock. Verstappen put himself 0.164 behind Leclerc on the first lap, Lando Norris finished fourth, less than a second behind Leclerc, while Lewis Hamilton and George Russell were sixth and seventh, directly ahead of Daniel Ricciardo.

The Alpine F1 drivers then set the first lap, with Fernando Alonso taking fifth, one second over Leclerc. Pulling back, Esteban Ocon finished provisionally ninth, behind the two Mercedes drivers.

During his quick lap, Verstappen got frightened because Perez was in line, and complained about it on the radio. Hamilton was forced to hit the last corner, and he also complained about him on the radio. Sainz finished third on his first fast lap, half a second behind Leclerc.

Cho made a mistake and failed to improve on the last lap, remaining 16th, while Alex Albon ran. Ocon improved, as did Schumacher and the Aston Martin F1 drivers. Schumacher’s lap was unfortunately canceled, but Magnussen moved up the rankings.

Those excluded are Gasly, Stroll, Cho, Schumacher and Latifi.

Q2 – 15 minutes

Before the start of the second part of qualifying, Haas complained about the cancellation of Schumacher’s lap. His radio engineer explained to him that nothing was lost yet: “We’re talking about the direction of the race, get ready to ride.”

In the end, the race direction decision remained the same and the Haas F1 driver left his car. Thus, Alex Albon, 15th in the first quarter, remains eligible for the second part of the qualifying session.

Hamilton had a best timer at 1’33” 329, ahead of Russell, Albon and Tsunoda, then Norris snatched the best time at 1’32” 777, and Vettel came between the two Mercedes. Leclerc took the lead with a slower time than in Q1, at 1’32” 587.

Perez led in 1’32” 120, then Verstappen regained the fastest lap in 1’31” 990. Magnussen finished fifth, ahead of Ricciardo and Alonso, who both netted ahead of Hamilton.

Sainz then set a perfect time with his new engine, at 1’31” 081. The Spaniard will probably have reason to regret, as tomorrow he will be penalized at the net and will start from the back of the net.

Then Ocon improved by taking the sixth fastest time, ahead of Bottas who improved. The French Tsunoda, like Alonso, surpassed the fifth. Leclerc climbed to second to finish 10th behind Sainz and Hamilton and Russell returned to the top 10, as did Magnussen, already overtaking Ocon in the top 10.

Those excluded from Q2 are Ricciardo, Ocon, Bottas, Vettel and Albon.

Q3 – 12 minutes

Ferrari will strategize to allow Leclerc to take Sainz, as the Spaniard has been penalized. Perez set the best time at 1’31” 640, well ahead of Alonso and Tsunoda. Leclerc took the best time at 1’31” 209, a time that allowed him to make eight thousand Verstappen!

Russell and Hamilton lined up behind the trio, while Sainz didn’t set the clock. Norris moved in front of Alonso, and Magnussen, like Sainz, seemed not to sign the time, because he, too, was being punished.

Leclerc improved in his best sector ever, while Verstappen failed to improve in his first sector. In the second part of the circuit, Leclerc improved his time but not the absolute for Verstappen, while Sainz gave Monegasque ambition.

But Verstappen went for the best second sector! Leclerc improved to 1’30” 872, while Verstappen didn’t advance enough, and the Ferrari driver took the lead by 3 tenths of Red Bull.

The duo will be ahead of Perez and Hamilton, who took a lead on the last lap. Norris and Russell will be in the third row, ahead of Alonso and Tsunoda. Thus Ricciardo and Ocon will complete the top ten in the network.

POS. pilot Sentences Q1 time Q2 time Q3 time
01 Charles Leclerc Ferrari F1-75 1: 31.727 1: 31.216 1: 30,872
02 Max Verstappen Red Bull RBPT RB18 1: 31.891 1: 31.990 1: 31.176
03 Sergio Perez Red Bull RBPT RB18 1: 32.354 1: 32.120 1: 31.335
04 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W13 1: 33.041 1: 32.274 1: 31.765
05 Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes MCL36 1: 32.672 1: 32.777 1: 32.032
06 George Russell Mercedes W13 1: 33.109 1: 32.633 1: 32.131
07 Fernando Alonso Alpine Renault A522 1: 32,819 1: 32.631 1: 32.552
08 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri RBPT AT03 1: 33,394 1: 32.836 1: 32.780
09 Carlos Sainz Ferrari F1-75 1: 32,297 1: 31.081 -: —.—
10 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari VF-22 1: 32.756 1: 32.649 -: —.—
—————- ————— ——— ——— ———
11 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren Mercedes MCL36 1: 33.404 1: 32.922
12 Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault A522 1: 33.346 1: 33.048
13 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Ferrari C42 1: 33.034 1: 33.052
14 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin Mercedes AMR22 1: 33.285.0000 1: 33,276
15th Alex Albon Williams Mercedes FW 44 1: 33.423 1: 33.307
—————- ————— ——— ——— ———
16 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri RBPT AT03 1: 33.439
17 Lance’s Outing Aston Martin Mercedes AMR22 1: 33.439
18 Guanyu-Zhou Alfa Romeo Ferrari C42 1: 33.674
19 Mick Schumacher Haas Ferrari VF-22 1: 33.701
20 Nicholas Latifi Williams Mercedes FW 44 1: 33.794


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