A sterling performance from Max Verstappen saw him dominantly beat the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas as he took his fifth career pole for this weekend’s French Grand prix.
We did not need to wait long for the third disrupted qualifying session in as many Grand Prix weekends, as Alpha Tauri’s Yuki Tsunoda found the barriers after spinning on the exit of turn one. Mercedes looked as though they were returning to their irresistible form as Hamilton and Bottas briefly topped the timesheets, before the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez pegged them back again. The end of the session saw an immensely frustrating moment for Lance Stroll and Kimi Raikkonen, as Mick Schumacher wrecked his Haas on the exit of Turn 13. He ironically secured his passage to Q2 as a result, costing the aforementioned duo their final Q1 laps. The Haas driver would however take no further part in qualifying; this was Schumacher’s second qualifying crash in the last three races.
A calmer second qualifying session saw Charles Leclerc narrowly scrape into the top ten, as Esteban Ocon, fresh off a new Alpine contract, was knocked out on the medium tyres. Fernando Alonso, who has not enjoyed the perfect return to the sport, will be glad of out-qualifying his home hero team mate this weekend. George Russell, who did ever so well to once again reach Q2, ended up fourteenth for Williams.
Max Verstappen’s first run in the final session was an immense four tenths quicker than second best Lewis Hamilton, as Mercedes contrived to return to the front, but not to the top of the timesheets. Verstappen’s final run was an improvement of another four tenths, as Sergio Perez’s front row seat was short-lived, as Bottas and Hamilton displaced the Mexican, but still failed to get anywhere near the flying Dutchman, who looked simply unstoppable.
10 of the 16 races at the Circuit Paul Ricard have been won from pole, but the threat of rain tomorrow gives us a chance of a wide-open race, as Max Verstappen seeks to further press home his championship advantage.