Leclerc is the king of Saturdays in Formula 1! But this time it was not without the cunning help of a partner

Evgeny Kustov

Evgeny Kustov

Leclerc is the king of Saturdays in Formula 1!

Where is the Mercedes? Yes, actually nowhere.

The results of the three training sessions before qualifying for the French Grand Prix were intriguing: if Ferrari was ahead on Friday, then on Saturday morning Max Verstappen had an equally convincing advantage. It remained to look at the traditional battle between Ferrari and Red Bull – with the proviso that Carlos Sainz would start from the end of the grid due to the enumeration of elements of the power plant. The same fine hung on Kevin Magnussen from Haas.

Q1: hitting Schumacher, Stroll and Gasly

Sainz and Magnussen, as usual, decided to take part in at least the first segment. Moreover, if Carlos left in the middle of the segment, then Kevin – under the very curtain. And the Dane managed to influence the list of those who passed on! Under the very flag, Kevin showed a brilliant sixth time – and this circle of Magnussen eventually cost Pierre Gasly a place in the top 15.

At the same time, at the end of the session, the Frenchman was only 18th – what happened next? The fact is that Mick Schumacher and Lance Stroll, although they drove quite strong laps at the end, violated the boundaries of the track. As a result, the Canadian dropped to 17th place, and the German to 19th, although the speed of Haas allowed him even to compete for the third segment … Taking into account Magnussen’s fine, it was a terrible Saturday for the American team. 18th place for Zhou, 20th for Latifi, who was not helped by Williams’ updates.

But fines Schumacher and Stroll saved Albon and Riccardo. At the same time, Alex could go further without outside help, but he made a mistake on the second fast lap – a turn, before which the Thai occupied 13th position. As a result, Alex and “Williams” have to say thanks to Mick and Lance.

Q2: Sainz’s shock lap

The first attempts of the second segment were intriguing: Lewis Hamilton showed only the ninth result, George Russell did not get into the top 10 at all. And this is after hopes that Mercedes will still challenge Ferrari and Red Bull … However, both pilots still made it to Q3, and with a margin.

Well, who’s not lucky? The most offensive 11th place belongs to Daniel Riccardo. Formally, he lost a tenth and a half to Lando Norris, but at the same time, the Briton did not complete the last fast lap, since in any case he went further. That is, in practice, the gap between partners is much larger.

Daniel Riccardo

Daniel Riccardo

Photo: Clive Rose/Getty Images

Behind the Australian was Esteban Ocon (the French are not impressive at their native Grand Prix, Alonso’s loss is four tenths), Valtteri Bottas (let down the weak first sector), Sebastian Vettel and Alex Albon (this time without miracles from Williams).

Of the interesting, we note the unanimous decision of Ferrari and Haas that Sainz and Magnussen for some reason need to go to the third qualifying segment. As a result, Carlos not only did it, but also with the fastest result – moreover, the Spaniard brought Verstappen nine tenths of a second! Well, not a bad demonstration of potential. But a little pointless. Yes, and Max was on old tires.

Ferrari threatens Formula 1 with legal action.  Will the rules be changed because of Mercedes and Hamilton?
Ferrari threatens Formula 1 with legal action. Will the rules be changed because of Mercedes and Hamilton?

Q3: No chance for Verstappen

The first attempt in the third segment brought back a familiar picture for us: Leclerc and Verstappen are as close as possible! Charles was ahead of Max by only 8 thousandths of a second, but Perez was four tenths behind. At the same time, Ferrari really tried to organize a slipstream from Sainz to Leclerc, but it turned out quite ridiculous: the Monegasque did not catch up with the Spaniard even in the second part of the Mistral straight and, according to sensations, did not win back a single thousandth due to the second Ferrari. However, the pilots had a second chance at the end of the session.

This time, Charles and Carlos worked more clearly: the slipstream was organized in the same place, but this time Leclerc really got something at the expense of the “bag” from his partner. The final result showed that Charles would certainly have managed without the help of Carlos: Leclerc was ahead of Verstappen by a solid three-tenths. This is Charles’s seventh pole position in 12 Grands Prix this season.

Perez took third place without an alternative, and in the end lost only one and a half tenths to Max – not bad, especially since Cheko himself admitted that at the beginning of the weekend he was “just nowhere”. Hamilton was fourth (nine-tenths behind), but Russell remained only sixth behind Norris – another flick on the nose of his McLaren teammate.

Alonso and Tsunoda formed the fourth line of the grid, but Sainz and Magnussen predictably did not drive fast laps and will now move to 19th and 20th positions. We are waiting for breakthroughs tomorrow, especially from Carlos – with his speed! Start of the French Grand Prix – at 16:00 Moscow time.

Schumacher at McLaren, Senna at Ferrari?!  7 shock transfers that failed in F-1
Schumacher at McLaren, Senna at Ferrari?! 7 shock transfers that failed in F-1

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