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Sport Verstappen claims pole for F1 French Grand Prix

01:50  20 june  2021
01:50  20 june  2021 Source:   wwos.nine.com.au

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Formula One championship leader Max Verstappen won his second pole of the season and put his Red Bull in front of Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton for the start the French Grand Prix.

Verstappen set a time of 1 minute, 29.990 seconds around the Paul Ricard circuit in southern France to grab the top starting spot before Hamilton and his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas crossed the line at the end of Saturday's qualifying session.

Bottas jumped to second when he crossed the line, but Hamilton completed his lap right behind Bottas and bumped his teammate down a spot.

Sergio Perez was fourth for Red Bull as the top four qualifiers all ran at the rear of the pack before completing their final flying laps as the session expired.

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a close up of a motorcycle: Max Verstappen driving his Red Bull during qualifying for the F1 Grand Prix of France. © Formula 1 via Getty Images Max Verstappen driving his Red Bull during qualifying for the F1 Grand Prix of France.

Carlos Sainz was fifth for Ferrari and followed by Pierre Gasly for AlphaTauri and Charles Leclerc in seventh for Ferrari. McLaren teammates Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo were eighth and 10th, respectively, separated by Fernando Alonso in ninth for Alpine.

"The position, no [not happy] – the day I'm happy with a 10th is the day I should probably stop racing," Ricciardo said.

"But from a weekend, it's been a good weekend. No big issues, no big complaints. I haven't felt like we've been scratching our head, or we've been lost, I think it's been smooth.

"I think ultimately the best way to say it is everyone is fast at the moment. The competition is tough and I think of course maybe there's a tenth [of a second] in the car I can find, but ultimately those few tenths now we've got to keep developing and finding the speed.

Hamilton and Mercedes hoping for return to form at French GP

  Hamilton and Mercedes hoping for return to form at French GP Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes team hope to find a positive sense of 'deja vu' and a return to winning form at this weekend’s French Grand Prix following two shattering street circuit defeats. Two weeks earlier Bottas suffered a disastrous pit-stop at the Monaco Grand Prix where a tyre could not be removed until the team returned home 43 hours later. The luckless Finn will be out of contract later this year and needs a solid result to re-build his confidence amid speculation about his future."The street circuits didn’t suit our car and we lost a podium finish and a victory through our own mistakes," added Wolff.

"The car felt decent, there's always bits you want to improve, but not a session where we're throwing our arms up. Ultimately I think everyone has found some speed at the moment.

"Of course, if you look at Lando, he's a tenth up the road. So I'll say there's a tenth in the car for me to still find. It's not one where I'm like there's three tenths, four tenths on the table.

"It really felt like we were just driving to the limit of the car today. Not any bad behaviour, we were just using all the grip and track we could. For that I say the others are taking steps and the competition's tight, so we'll keep working."

a close up of a road: Daniel Ricciardo driving his McLaren during qualifying for the F1 Grand Prix of France. © NurPhoto via Getty Images Daniel Ricciardo driving his McLaren during qualifying for the F1 Grand Prix of France.

Verstappen's only other pole this season came in the opener at Bahrain, but he finished second to seven-time champion Hamilton. He's since won two races to take a four-point lead over Hamilton into Sunday's race.

stages vs. Hamilton in Le Castellet: Mercedes at old starch?

 stages vs. Hamilton in Le Castellet: Mercedes at old starch? © Motorsport Images Red Bull before Mercedes? Or is Mercedes returning to old strength? on the paper it is a clear case: Le Castellet is Mercedes country. So it was at least two Grands Prix since the Formula 1 comeback of the Circuit Paul Ricard in the 2018 season. Lewis Hamilton was each on the pole position and he won both races. In 2019, Mercedes even achieved a double victory with him and Valtteri Bottas.

His advantage might have been larger but the Dutchman crashed when his tire failed while leading late at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix two weeks ago.

Verstappen had qualified fourth in his both of his previous two races at Paul Ricard.

"So far it's been a really positive weekend on the track," Verstappen said. "Of course no points are scored (qualifying), but for us great day and we have to finish it off and try to get 25 points that we lost in Baku."

a close up of a car: Pierre Gasly driving his AlphaTauri during qualifying for the F1 Grand Prix of France. © NurPhoto via Getty Images Pierre Gasly driving his AlphaTauri during qualifying for the F1 Grand Prix of France.

Hamilton and Bottas swapped chassis this weekend and Bottas said he's off to a much better start than in Baku, where he qualified 10th and finished 12th. But Hamilton said he's been "generally unhappy in the car all weekend" and the qualifying effort was a breakthrough.

"It's been a really, really hard weekend, mentally and not just talking physically, but trying to get the car into a happy place," Hamilton said.

"You wouldn't believe how many changes I've made since practice one, going around and around kind of chasing our tail and ended up coming back to something similar to where we started."

TV Formula 1 program: at what time and on which chains follow the Grand Prix de France?

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Mick Schumacher made it through to Q2 for the first time in his F1 career, but only after his crash ended Q1 25 seconds earlier. The rear of his Haas spun and Schumacher went backward across the runoff before hitting a barrier.

The opening qualifying session was stopped by a red flag after just three minutes when Yuki Tsunoda spun off backward into a barrier behind Turn 2. He will start last.

a group of men racing on a track: The car of Mick Schumacher is removed from the circuit on a tow truck after crashing during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of France. © Formula 1 via Getty Images The car of Mick Schumacher is removed from the circuit on a tow truck after crashing during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of France.

F1 FRENCH GRAND PRIX STARTING GRID

1. Max Verstappen, Netherlands, Red Bull Racing, 1 minute, 29.990 seconds.

2. Lewis Hamilton, Great Britain, Mercedes, 1:30.248.

3. Valtteri Bottas, Finland, Mercedes, 1:30.376.

4. Sergio Perez, Mexico, Red Bull Racing, 1:30.445.

5. Carlos Sainz Jr, Spain, Ferrari, 1:30.840.

6. Pierre Gasly, France, Alphatauri, 1:30.868.

7. Charles Leclerc, Monaco, Ferrari, 1:30.987.

8. Lando Norris, Great Britain, McLaren, 1:31.252.

9. Fernando Alonso, Spain, Alpine, 1:31.340.

10. Daniel Ricciardo, Australia, McLaren, 1:31.382.

Eliminated after second session

11. Esteban Ocon, France, Alpine, 1:31.736.

12. Sebastian Vettel, Germany, Aston Martin, 1:31.767.

13. Antonio Giovinazzi, Italy, Alfa Romeo Racing, 1:31.813.

14. George Russell, Great Britain, Williams, 1:32.065.

Eliminated after first session

15. Mick Schumacher, Germany, Haas F1 Team, 1:33.060.

16. Nicholas Latifi, Canada, Williams, 1:33.062.

17. Kimi Raikkonen, Finland, Alfa Romeo Racing, 1:33.354.

18. Nikita Mazepin, Russia, Haas F1 Team, 1:33.554.

19. Lance Stroll, Canada, Aston Martin, 2:12.584.

20. Yuki Tsunoda, Japan, AlphaTauri

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