Max Verstappen claims pole position ahead of the French Grand Prix

19-06-2021 15:20
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Max Verstappen claims pole position ahead of the French Grand Prix

Max Verstappen has claimed pole position in tomorrow's French Grand Prix, beating out Lewis Hamilton in second and Valtteri Bottas in third place. The Red Bull driver claimed his second pole position of the season after he claimed it in the season-opener. The Dutchman took pole with a lap time of 1:29.990, the first lap of the weekend in the 1:20's. 

Verstappen's teammate Sergio Perez couldn't find himself in the top three and finished 0.455 seconds off the Dutchman in pole. Pierre Gasly, in his home race, split the Ferrari pairing of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc, with the three placing behind Perez in P4. Sainz finished in P5, Gasly in P6 and Leclerc in P7. Similarly to Gasly, Fernando Alonso also split a driver pairing, this being McLaren. Lando Norris found himself in P8 come to the chequered flag, Alonso followed and it was Daniel Ricciardo in P10.

Tsunoda and Schumacher red flags highlight Q1

The qualifying session started off as many others have so far this season with Yuki Tsunoda spinning at turn 1 and sliding into the barriers at turn 2, thus resulting in a red-flagging of the session. The Japanese rookie was unable to put his car into gear and had to have his AlphaTauri collected by a low loader. Leclerc was the first to set a time in the session following the restart, with his first lap time being 1:33.187. Lance Stroll was the first driver to have his lap time deleted in qualifying, as he exceeded track limits at turn 6.

The session continued until the final minute when Mick Schumacher found himself in the barrier at turn 6 and a red flag was shown for the second time in the space of 15 minutes of racing. The Haas driver however found himself in Q2 for the first time this season but was not able to compete. This red flag meant that Lance Stroll missed out on a potential Q2 place and will find himself on the back row of the grid at the start of the race tomorrow.

George Russell was on a superb lap and was almost at the final straight when the red flag was shown but was still able to find himself in Q2 by 0.002 seconds, finishing ahead of his teammate Nicholas Latifi. Kimi Raikkonen and Schumacher's teammate Nikita Mazepin were the final drivers out in Q1 and will start in P17 and P18 tomorrow respectively.

OUT IN Q1 - Tsunoda, Stroll, Mazepin, Raikkonen, Latifi

Medium tyres the main feature of Q2

Due to expected weather conditions tomorrow, the front runners of Red Bull and Mercedes switched to the medium tyre for their Q2 runs. Perez and Verstappen were able to take advantage of this on their first run with a Red Bull one-two on show as the Mexican led. Bottas was in third and Hamilton was in fifth after their first runs on the mediums.

As seen in Q1, Schumacher's crash into the barriers resulted in the Haas rookie's car being unable to compete in Q2, meaning only four drivers were lost. George Russell had the slowest time of the session but was still only 0.450 seconds off of Q3 and will start in P14 tomorrow. Antonio Giovinazzi, Sebastian Vettel and Esteban Ocon, in his home race, were the other three drivers out in Q2. All three drivers were under 0.200 seconds off of Daniel Ricciardo in tenth-place.

Bottas and Hamilton were the fastest with the Red Bull duo of Perez and Verstappen behind them. The final six drivers into Q3 were filled by the Ferrari duo of Leclerc and Sainz, the McLaren duo of Norris and Ricciardo, Alonso and Gasly.

OUT IN Q2 - Schumacher, Russell, Giovinazzi, Vettel, Ocon

Last-minute action in Q3

Gasly started off with a strong lap but lost his time, like many others, due to exceeding track limits at turn 6 early in Q3. Verstappen set a lap time of 1:30.325 with his first attempt and this was the benchmark for the session. Hamilton, Perez and Bottas were all unable to beat this on their first run, with the latter of the trio named being 0.801 seconds off the Dutchman.

All 10 drivers were on track with a minute left in the session, raring to set off on their final flying laps and it was important for Gasly. In the Frenchman's home race he was still yet to set a time in the whole session so was relying fully on his final push at the end of Q3. He set a time of 1:30.868 and finished in P6.

All the action came in the final minute as the Mercedes and Red Bull duo's switched continuously at the top of the timings but it was Verstappen who stole the pole off the Brit and the Finn at Mercedes.

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