2022 French Grand Prix qualifying report and highlights: Sainz trails Leclerc to first French Grand Prix pole as Verstappen qualifies second

2022 French Grand Prix qualifying report and highlights: Sainz trails Leclerc to first French Grand Prix pole as Verstappen qualifies second

Charles Leclerc took Ferrari’s first pole position at Paul Ricard since 1990, while rival Max Verstappen will join him on the front row for the 2022 French Grand Prix.

With the sun beating down on Circuit Paul Ricard, Leclerc topped Q1 ahead of Verstappen while Carlos Sainz, who starts at the back for an engine penalty, cleared Q2 with a stunning lap.

Q3 saw Leclerc enjoy a tow from Sainz for both of his flying laps, while the Monegasque improved to 1m 30.872s to hold off Verstappen by 0.304s. Sergio Perez finished third, 0.159 seconds off his teammate, while Lewis Hamilton improved to P4 with his final run.

Lando Norris managed to split the Mercedes in P5 for McLaren as he dropped George Russell down to P6.

FP3: Verstappen leads Ferrari duo in final French Grand Prix practice

1


Charles
Leclerc
LEC
Ferrari
1:30,872
2


Max
Verstappen
VER
Red Bull Racing
1:31,176
3


Sergio
Perez
PER
Red Bull Racing
1:31,335
4


Lewis
Hamilton
HAM
Mercedes
1:31,765
5


Lando
Norris
NOR
McLaren
1:32.032

Fernando Alonso starts seventh straight behind Norris – both Alpine and McLaren level on points ahead of the French GP – while Yuki Tsunoda qualified eighth.

Sainz sacrificed his Q3 to take P9 for Ferrari, but thanks to an engine penalty he starts at the back of Kevin Magnussen, who made it to Q3 but did not appear in the session.

Daniel Ricciardo missed out on Q3 by less than a tenth of a second in P11, while Esteban Ocon qualified P12 away to Alpine at home. Valtteri Bottas finished 13th in qualifying, leaving Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel in 14th and Williams’ Alex Albon in 15th.

Pierre Gasly and Lance Stroll (16th and 17th respectively) missed out on Q2 by 0.06s, while oversteer for Zhou Guanyu saw him finish 18th for Alfa Romeo. Mick Schumacher’s brief foray into the track limits dropped him to 19th and out of Q1, while Nicholas Latifi was 20th.

With penalties for Sainz and Magnussen, those who were eliminated in Q2 and Q3 will of course see a bump up the grid for Sunday’s race.


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Leclerc took his seventh pole of the year

Q1 – Verstappen leaves time on the table as Leclerc sets the early benchmark

With rising temperatures and wind strength, it was clear that qualifying would be a formidable challenge for the field in France.

Charles Leclerc took the top spot with his first flying lap, leaving Max Verstappen second by 0.164s, and although the Dutchman attempted another lap, he did not improve – although his second sector was far superior to Leclerc’s and perhaps an ominous sign.. .

Carlos Sainz was over half a second back in third, the Scuderia driver starting at the back with an engine penalty. Sergio Perez was fourth, 0.627 seconds off the top spot for Red Bull, while Lando Norris was the final driver within a second of P1 in fifth for McLaren.

Despite the back start for new power unit components, Kevin Magnussen finished sixth with his only run of Q1, beating Alpine’s Fernando Alonso – who enjoyed a solid tow from Verstappen – by 0.063s.


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Verstappen looked to improve on his second Q1 run but appeared to pull back in sector 3

Valtteri Bottas was eighth for Alfa Romeo, leaving Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton ninth and George Russell 10th – both over 1.3 seconds off the pace.

Having missed a chance to run 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 progressed to Q2 in P14 despite his second race being withdrawn for track limits; Alex Albon pulled on turn 8 to take P15 for Williams.

In 16th, Pierre Gasly was eliminated in Q1 at home by just 0.06s to Albon, having set the exact same time as Lance Stroll, the Aston Martin driver frustrated by traffic in P17.

A cruel flick of oversteer heading into the Mistral Straight saw Zhou Guanyu finish 18th. Mick Schumacher had a lap time erased to send him from P11 to P19 and out of Q1 – with Nicholas Latifi last and 20th.

Out: Gasly, Stroll, Zhou, Schumacher, Latifi


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Track limits cost Schumacher, and he was left in a disappointing 19th place

Q2 – Defiant Sainz goes for glory with a fantastic lap

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 provisional third, just 0.130s behind his teammate, while Leclerc was a further half a second behind in P4. As for Mercedes, neither Russell nor Hamilton were happy with their opening efforts, finishing 12th and ninth respectively.

Leclerc improved to within 0.135s of Sainz on his second run, leaving Verstappen in third and Perez in fourth – only the Mexican came out for a second run but failed to improve – as Hamilton rounded out the top five.

Alonso split the Mercedes, just 0.002s ahead of Russell in seventh, while Magnussen made it to P8 for Haas. Norris was ninth and Tsunoda made it to Q3 for the first time since Baku in P10 – Ricciardo missing out by less than a tenth of a second.

Ocon failed to make it to Q3, finishing 12th ahead of Bottas, while Vettel and Albon were over two seconds off the pace in 14th and 15th respectively. With Sainz starting at the back, all eyes will be on the speedy Spaniard’s progress on Sunday; Magnussen’s fast run in Q2 will also be cause for excitement.

Both Haas and Ferrari had a chance to upset their rivals in Q3, too…

Dropped: Ricciardo, Ocon, Bottas, Vettel, Albon


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Sainz stunned as Ferrari led Q2

Q3 – Ferrari team up for first Paul Ricard pole since 1990

Ferrari’s game plan for Q3 was clear; they appeared in order for Sainz to tow Leclerc through the track’s long straights, the Monegasque driver setting a provisional pole lap of 1m 31.209s. Verstappen was just 0.008 seconds off – but he hadn’t enjoyed a tow while on the move.

Perez was a provisional third, 0.431 seconds off in P3, while the Mercedes were on course for P4 and P5 with Russell ahead of Hamilton – both on used tires for their first runs.

The customary break gave fans time to fan themselves in the unrelenting heat with Perez breaking the silence to lead a train of cars out for the final runs. Ferrari continued their team play, Sainz to give Leclerc a tow for second drive; Verstappen emerged behind Leclerc, not Perez, for his second attempt at pole.

Leclerc had the edge and turned it into a gulf, improving to 1m 30.872s – thanks to team-mate Sainz over the radio – and holding off Verstappen by 0.304s, despite the Dutchman improving. Perez also improved, but ended up 0.159s off his teammate as he prepares to start on the second row.

Hamilton fitted a new set of softs and improved to P4, although he finished over four tenths clear of Perez, while McLaren’s Norris managed to split the Mercedes drivers in fifth as Russell finished sixth. Alonso, in P7, will start behind Norris on Sunday, his alpine team level with McLaren on points at the moment, 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. Going tete-a-tete tomorrow from the front row will therefore Leclerc and Verstappen.

French GP qualifying 2022: Leclerc beats championship rival Verstappen to pole position

Key quote

– It was a great round. I’ve been struggling all weekend to put a lap together and I managed to put it but I have to say I also had help from Carlos and it was fantastic teamwork because without Carlos it would have been a lot closer so thank you Carlos and I hope that he can join us back in the fight for victory tomorrow” – Charles Leclerc, Ferrari

What will be next

The French Grand Prix starts at 15:00 local time – which is 13:00 UTC – with Leclerc and Verstappen once again set to duke it out from the front row, while Sainz will look to climb back through the field in the 53-lap encounter.

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