French GP qualifying: Charles Leclerc takes pole position ahead of his rival Max Verstappen

French GP qualifying: Charles Leclerc takes pole position ahead of his rival Max Verstappen

Charles Leclerc beats Max Verstappen by 0.304s with Sergio Perez third ahead of Lewis Hamilton; Lando Norris beats George Russell for fifth place; Watch Sunday’s race live on Sky Sports F1 at 2pm, with a heavy build-up from 12.30pm

Last update: 07/23/22 5:10 p.m.

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Charles Leclerc takes pole position in the French GP, ahead of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.

Charles Leclerc takes pole position in the French GP, ahead of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.

Charles Leclerc will start from pole position for the French Grand Prix after a superb final qualifying lap that saw the threat of Max Verstappen.

Leclerc and Verstappen, who are locked in a thrilling battle for the title, were separated by just 0.008 seconds before the closing stages, but the Ferrari driver found a huge improvement at the most important moment and took pole by three tenths of a second. second.

Leclerc was helped by a tow from team-mate Carlos Sainz – who will be at the back of the grid for Sunday’s race due to engine penalties – and the result continues its newfound momentum as he tries to eat away at the 38-point lead by Verstappen. .

“Without Carlos it would have been much tighter, so a big thank you to him,” said Leclerc.

Join Charles Leclerc aboard his Ferrari for his pole position at the French Grand Prix.

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Join Charles Leclerc aboard his Ferrari for his pole position at the French Grand Prix.

Join Charles Leclerc aboard his Ferrari for his pole position at the French Grand Prix.

Sergio Perez finished third for Red Bull – meaning Leclerc will face two Bulls in charge – and he will be joined in second by Lewis Hamilton, although Mercedes still struggled at Paul Ricard.

Hamilton was ahead of Silver Arrow but 0.893 seconds behind Leclerc, while George Russell was edged out by Lando Norris after an epic final effort from the Briton in an upgraded McLaren placed him fifth.

Alex Albon spins during Q1 qualifying but does Q2 after a lap time was dropped for Mick Schumacher.

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Alex Albon spins during Q1 qualifying but does Q2 after a lap time was dropped for Mick Schumacher.

Alex Albon spins during Q1 qualifying but does Q2 after a lap time was dropped for Mick Schumacher.

Daniel Ricciardo failed to qualify for Q3, with the two French drivers Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly in front of a sold-out crowd.

Fernando Alonso and Yuki Tsunoda finished seventh and eighth as Sainz and Kevin Magnussen, similarly penalized for engine changes, failed to set lap times in the final shootout.

Sunday’s race is live on Sky Sports F1 at 2pm, with a ramp-up from 12.30pm.

Qualifying French GP: Top 10
1) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
2) Max Verstappen, Red Bull
3) Sergio Perez, Red Bull
4) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
5) Lando Norris, McLaren
6) George Russell, Mercedes
7) Fernando Alonso, Alpine
8) Yuki Tsunoda, Alpha Tauri
9) Carlos Sainz, Ferrari*
10) Kevin Magnussen, Haas*

*start from the back of the grid due to engine penalties

Leclerc in the lead so far but is Verstappen the favourite?

Leclerc’s efforts put him in the perfect position to claim Ferrari’s third straight win, with the Scuderia enjoying a season-long European purple patch against Red Bull after car upgrades.

“I struggled all weekend to get a lap and I managed to do it,” said Leclerc, who received a boost on the straights following Sainz.

Nico Rosberg says he would rather be in Max Verstappen's shoes as he thinks the Red Bull in race mode is faster.

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Nico Rosberg says he would rather be in Max Verstappen’s shoes as he thinks the Red Bull in race mode is faster.

Nico Rosberg says he would rather be in Max Verstappen’s shoes as he thinks the Red Bull in race mode is faster.

However, more difficult tasks await us. Leclerc has to fight two Red Bulls on his own and it is also suspected that Verstappen could be too fast for the Monegasque given his car’s straight line speed.

“I have a feeling they might make a mistake with the setup,” said Nico Rosberg of Sky Sports F1, the 2016 world champion. “I think they have too much downforce on this car.

Christian Horner felt Ferrari had the advantage in qualifying but said it was all to play for in the French Grand Prix.

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Christian Horner felt Ferrari had the advantage in qualifying but said it was all to play for in the French Grand Prix.

Christian Horner felt Ferrari had the advantage in qualifying but said it was all to play for in the French Grand Prix.

“When you have more downforce, it means you go faster in the corners and load the tires more, which also causes tire wear and stress on them. I really think that could cause them problems. tomorrow in the race and it would be an advantage for Red Bull.”

He added: “Honestly, looking at Verstappen’s pace from Friday when he was training for the race, I would definitely prefer to be in Verstappen’s shoes.”

What happened to Merc?

With Sainz set to start 19th, it looks like it will be a three-driver battle for victory on Sunday, with Mercedes further than expected in qualifying.

The eight-time defending champion of the sport entered the weekend hopeful with upgrades and a Paul Ricard track that should have suited them, but they have struggled in midfield so far and have only reached than Q3.

Hamilton’s fourth place finish was the best they could manage.

Toto Wolff says Lewis Hamilton's fourth position was a

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Toto Wolff says Lewis Hamilton’s fourth place finish was a “huge job”, but the Mercedes just aren’t good enough.

Toto Wolff says Lewis Hamilton’s fourth place finish was a “huge job”, but the Mercedes just aren’t good enough.

“It’s just not good enough,” Wolff told Sky Sports F1.

“You can see that when you’re a bit off and your expectations are at a certain level for the race weekend, and it doesn’t materialize, a kind of freestyle starts.

“With us it was mainly about experimenting with the rear wing levels and also the tire temperatures, but in the end the whole thing just isn’t fast enough and we can see that.”

More soon.

French GP: the Sunday program live from Sky Sports F1

8:30 a.m.: F2 Feature Race
12:30 p.m.: Grand Prix on Sunday: preparation for the French GP
2 p.m.: French Grand Prix
4 p.m.: Checkered flag: reaction from the French GP
5 p.m.: Ted’s notebook
5:30 p.m.: Highlights of the French GP


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