Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) will start from pole position on Sunday for the Formula 1 French Grand Prix, with his main rival in the world championship, Max Verstappen (Red Bull) at his side.
The Monegasque emerged in the lead from a suspenseful qualifying session, which he had started with a bang by passing under the bar of the minute and 32 seconds per lap (1:31.727), followed closely by Verstappen.
He did even better in the last seconds of Q3, being the only one to go under the minute and 31 seconds: 1:30.872 and a 7th pole position this season, with the effective help of his teammate Carlos Sainz, in the another Ferrari.
« It’s a great lap, and I have to say that I also had the help of Carlos, giving me a great draft. Without him it would have been much tighter. It was really a team effort « reacted Leclerc, hot, after gaining a few precious tenths by staying just behind the Spaniard in the fastest portions.
Sainz knew he would be relegated to the back of the grid on Sunday, alongside Kevin Magnussen (Haas), because of the installation on Saturday morning of his 4th engine this season, one too many compared to the authorized quota.
Magnussen also moved into Q3, for fun, knowing that he would be at the back of the grid on Sunday, which testifies to the obvious progress in recent weeks for the modest American team.
Verstappen is 38 points ahead of Leclerc in the championship standings at mid-season, after 11 out of 22 rounds. But Leclerc leads 7-3 in the pole position standings this season.
Behind Charles and Max, the places of honor go to Sergio Pérez, in the other Red Bull, and by the stainless Lewis Hamilton, winner in the Var in 2018 and 2019, who achieved the 4th time in his Mercedes.
Still in the Top 10, but behind the « top teams », Fernando Alonso nicely carried the blue torch of Alpine by taking 7th place on the grid, behind Lando Norris (5th) in his McLaren and George Russell in the other mercedes.
On the French side, this 12th « qualifier » of the 2022 season was not miraculous, far from it: Pierre Gasly was eliminated in Q1, with the 16th time, due to a dubious strategy by his Italian team, which threw him too early on the track. He was on a fast lap at the end of Q1 when he swerved and lost a lot of time.
“There is a lot of disappointment”reacted Gasly on Canal +, he who was supported by an entirely tricolor tribune, like every year in the Var. « Yesterday everything was simple, it was working. Since this morning, I have a different feeling with the car. We don’t really know what happened »he added.
As for Esteban Ocon, in his Alpine, he did not survive Q2, with the 12th fastest time, just like Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin), 14th.