French GP 2021 Qualifying Report: Max Verstappen Beats Lewis Hamilton to F1 Pole

Published 06/19/2021, 10:15 AM EDT
Formula One F1 – French Grand Prix – Circuit Paul Ricard, Le Castellet, France – June 18, 2021 Red Bull’s Max Verstappen during practice REUTERS/Eric Gaillard


It was yet another intense four-way battle for the pole position at the French Grand Prix following its return to the racing calendar. Only this time, it isn’t Lewis Hamilton who will be starting from the front seat, but his title rival, Max Verstappen.

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Behind these two are Valtteri Bottas and Sergio Perez, who will be locking out the second row. And unsurprisingly, it was yet another close fight between the mid-field teams only for Carlos Sainz to snatch the ‘best of the rest’ tag by holding onto P5 behind the two big guns.

Q3- Max Verstappen leads the way

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Verstappen posted a blistering lap of 1:30:325 to grab onto the provisional pole, while Hamilton managed a lap, which wasn’t as impressive and ended up being around 0.4s slower than the Dutchman. And behind the two were Perez and Bottas.

Formula One F1 – French Grand Prix – Circuit Paul Ricard, Le Castellet, France – June 19, 2021 Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in action during practice REUTERS/Yves Herman

Meanwhile, Gasly failed to get his lap time on the board after exceeding the track limits around Turn 6. Hence, the homeboy rushed out of the pits with 4 minutes left on the clock for his second run, followed by the others. The Frenchman managed to break into P4 but later pushed down to P6.

At the top, Verstappen held onto his pole, but Hamilton managed to squeeze in an incredible lap to deny Red Bull a potential front-row lock-out. Bottas managed to secure P3, while Perez, who looked fast enough to stay in P2, was ultimately pushed down to P4.

Q2- Red Bull, Mercedes, and co start on Medium tires

Most of the drivers opted to post their lap times on Medium tires considering the yellow-marked tires have performed quite well over the weekend. It was yet again a Ferrari that started the proceedings before the Red Bull duo snatched the lead from Carlos Sainz.

Following a poor first lap, Hamilton pushed for another lap on the same tires to go fastest with a 1:30:959, ending the initial runs.

Formula One F1 – French Grand Prix – Circuit Paul Ricard, Le Castellet, France – June 19, 2021 Red Bull’s Sergio Perez in action during practice REUTERS/Yves Herman

A major disappointment struck Alpine, as Ocon missed out on Q3 by a whisker, slotting himself in P11, despite showing blistering pace throughout the practice sessions. Vettel managed a rather unsatisfactory P12; neither of the Aston Martin drivers made it into Q3.

Giovinazzi stole P13 from Russell at the last moment, as Schumacher grabbed onto P15, as the German never exited the garage following the Q1 incident.

Q1- Yuki Tsunoda and Mick Schumacher bring out red flags

Just over 1 minute into the session, Yuki Tsunoda ended up shunting his AlphaTauri into the wall after losing his rear into Turn 2, bringing out the first red flag of the session.

The Japanese remained reluctant from jumping out of the car and was desperately trying to bring it back into gear but it was all for naught.

Formula One F1 – French Grand Prix – Circuit Paul Ricard, Le Castellet, France – June 19, 2021 AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda gets out of his car after he crashed during qualifying REUTERS/Yves Herman

Following the green lights to Q1, the Ferrari duo was the first to light up the timesheets, with Carlos Sainz clocking the fastest lap of 1:32:289. Then arrived a mammoth lap of 1:31:001 from Verstappen that shot him up to P1, over 0.2s faster than Hamilton and over 0.5s off Perez.

As drivers returned to the track for their final runs, Mick Schumacher had a moment around Turn 6 and failed to avoid the barriers. It was a bittersweet moment for Schumacher, though, as the stewards affirmed against restarting the session.

This meant that the German got himself into Q2 for the first time in his F1 career. On the contrary, a major heartbreak for Lance Stroll and Kimi Raikkonen, who had enough pace to get into Q2, but sadly not enough luck. The other drivers who missed the cut were Latifi, Mazepin and Tsunoda.

Focus shifts to Sunday: Max Verstappen vs Lewis Hamilton

Overall, it has undeniably been an eventful outing on Saturday afternoon for the viewers. Hence, one can only hope that a similar trend continues on Sunday as well.

Of course, the outcome might turn out to fulfill our expectations, especially considering Verstappen and Hamilton will be starting alongside each other.

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So, can Circuit Paul Ricard manage to churn out a comparatively better race tomorrow as opposed to the stale outings in 2018 and 2019?

 

 

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Rohit Kumar

941 articles

Rohit Kumar is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. He has been an ardent follower of the racing series since 2007, with his love for the sport coinciding with his love for Kimi Raikkonen. He is also an ardent follower of Sebastian Vettel and Aston Martin Racing.

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