Lewis Hamilton will be beginning from pole position at the 2019 French Grand Prix. Not for the first time did the current season depict that familiar figure leading the proceedings. In fact, truth be told, if there’s no Lewis Hamilton dominating either a qualifying run or the main race then it seems that something’s not quite right, for to put it simply, the five-time world champion has made winning an essential habit.
So as the 2018 World champion set a new lap record in the final quali run a few hours ago on Saturday, it appeared that the tonality to the French Grand Prix had been set. Lewis Hamilton at 1:28:319 looked imposing.
That said, there were quite a few surprises that one perhaps hadn’t imagined at Circuit Paul Ricard as seen on Saturday. Let’s run through some that hold the power to change the context of the main race on Sunday.
Ferrari’s lukewarm qualifying all thanks to Vettel
Not once has Sebastian Vettel, a driver with an experience of driving for nearly a decade in Formula 1 has qualified as low as seventh this season. Earlier, at the Grand Prix of Monaco, Vettel started from fourth but hung in there to finish with a strong second, in the end.
So when the German driver bagged a lowly P7 during the final run, a lot of heads were turned in sheer surprise, since his teammate, Charles Leclerc, driving the same machine finished quite ahead, grabbing a pretty decent P3, in stark contrast to his more experienced teammate.
That said, at a time where Sebastian Vettel is under all sorts of pressure, having failed to beat Mercedes in seven straight races, it’s absolutely vital that something plays down Ferrari’s hand. But will it?
The surprise package- Antonio Giovinazzi
The French Grand Prix qualifying will always go down as being one of the strongest starts ever for the young Italian driver, Antonio Giovinazzi. Never before had Giovinazzi scored a tenth-place start on any track, anywhere in the world. For a driver who is yet to open his account in F1, the French Grand Prix qualifying result shall instill a sense of confidence in Alfa Romeo’s Giovinazzi, who has, until now, remained in Raikkonen’s shadow.
What’s even more interesting is that the 25-year-old driver begins his challenge at Paul Ricard even ahead of several talented drivers such as Raikkonen, Perez, Grosjean and the likes.
McLaren’s electrifying pace
Actually, there’s really no other way in which McLaren’s sensational showing at Circuit Paul Ricard could be described. Grabbing his best-ever start on any F1 grid was the talented McLaren youngster, Lando Norris, who starts from P5.
tIn bagging a finely judged 1:29:418, the rookie British driver managed to park his McLaren even ahead of stalwarts on the grid such as Ricciardo, Vettel, and Raikkonen. Let it be asked- just how many saw that coming.
In fact, truth be told, the way McLaren kept chipping away from the onset of the third practice run, where both Spanish Carlos Sainz Jr. and his younger teammate were quicker than both Red Bulls, it did appear that McLaren were in for a special show.
And guess what, on race-day, the French Grand Prix may just unveil a strong finish for the younger of the two McLaren guys. Above anything, it mustn’t be ruled out that Norris’ MCL 34 is right up to the tail of Verstappen’s Red Bull.