Lewis Hamilton gets 60th pole for Mercedes in France, Vettel seventh!

22-06-2019 15:02 | Updated: 22-06-2019 15:13
by Nicolás Quarles van Ufford
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Lewis Hamilton gets 60th pole for Mercedes in France, Vettel seventh!

Lewis Hamilton has taken his 60th pole position for Mercedes at Paul Ricard, with the Brit leading a one-two with Valtteri Bottas in second and Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc in third, with Sebastian Vettel only qualifying seventh.

Mercedes led with one-two's in every single Free Practice session all weekend long, but Bottas was always the one leading the charge on those occasions.

Vettel had to abort his first run in Q3 because of a misshift, but his second run was a disappointing one as he couldn't beat either McLaren or Max Verstappen in P4.

Speaking of McLaren, the Woking-based team did fantastically well to finish in P5 and P6, with the side also starting on the medium tyre for the race tomorrow as they look to extend their advantage in midfield.

Q1

As we've seen in Free Practice, Mercedes topped the first of the three qualifying rounds. Not a lot of daylight this time, though, with Leclerc within a tenth of pacesetter Bottas.

Two cars already knew they'd be getting a grid penalty on Sunday; Daniil Kvyat (fourth power unit) and George Russell (15 places for control electronics). Both drivers did set times but not enough to make it out of Q1 anyway, with the Russian setting the 16th quickest time and the rookie the 19th quickest time.

The other drivers not to make it out were Russell's teammate Robert Kubica, Lance Stroll (who makes it 12 straight times not making it out of Q1) and home driver Romain Grosjean, who made a mistake on his final hot lap.

Also, notably, Max Verstappen came in P14, júst about making it to Q2 as the Dutchman opted not to come out for a final run. Didn't they learn from Q2 in Canada?

Q2

It was very interesting in Q2 how many cars opted to run the medium compound. Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren and Renault all ran on the medium tyres, as did Verstappen. Pierre Gasly still ran on the soft compound but barely made it out of Q2 alive as he ended in P10, meaning he'll start on a softer compound than everyone ahead of him in tomorrow's race.

Gasly pushed out Alexader Albon for Toro Rosso, with the Thai rookie missing out of the final shoot-out by the finest of margins despite not having received the Honda engine upgrade.

Who did make it through were the top three teams, as well as both McLaren cars on those mediums. Daniel Ricciardo was the only Renault to make it through as Nico Hülkenberg only finished P13, and Antonio Giovinazzi once again beat his teammate Kimi Raikkonen in qualifying to make it through for Alfa Romeo.

Albon, Raikkonen, Hülkenberg, Sergio Pérez and Kevin Magnussen were left stranded.

Q3

The first run in the final shoot-out for pole position was more of the same. Hamilton broke his own track record from 2018 with a 1:28.448, followed by Bottas a tenth-and-a-half slower. Leclerc was third for Ferrari over half a second behind Hamilton, and Verstappen was over a full second behind in P4, with Vettel aborting his lap because of a mistake he made. Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris led the midfield pack in P5 and P6, beating Ricciardo, Gasly and Giovinazzi.

In the second and final run, neither Mercedes improved on their own lap time, with Bottas making a vital mistake in the final sector to ruin his chances of stealing pole position from his teammate and championship rival.

Vettel, who did set a time in his second run, only managed P7 in his Ferrari, behind both McLaren cars as well as Verstappen in P4. Norris pipped his teammate to fifth with a massive lap, with this being the teenager's best-ever qualifying in F1.

Following Vettel in P8 is Ricciardo for Renault, who will share a starting row with his former Red Bull teammate. Speaking of the Bulls, Gasly only managed to put his RB15 on P9, five places behind teammate Verstappen. He was penultimate in Q3, with Giovinazzi finishing off the top ten for Alfa. 

Can Hamilton extend his championship lead tomorrow, or can Bottas or Leclerc overtake the five-time champion during the race?

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