The front row for the France F1 GP will be painted silver with Lewis Hamilton on supersofts edging out teammate Vatteri Bottas for pole. It was the proverbial motorsport “throw a blanket over them” with Hamilton’s time of 1:30.029 scarcely enough to beat Bottas on 1:30.147 to P1.
Not unexpectedly it was Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel for third, with a 1:30.400 three tenths better than Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on 1:30.705. Daniel Ricciardo in fifth was the last of the top five to see a 1:30 with a .895 being the suffix.
Hamilton’s pole takes his tally to 75 and perhaps all the more meaningful at Circuit Paul Ricard as most of the practice sessions were rained out. It’s also said that the drive from Lewis was done without any simulator training for the track.
It was a qualifying session to forget for McLaren, the team that has been rumored to have offered twenty million to secure Ricciardo. Fernando Alonso’s best time was good enough for just sixteenth, and didn’t make it through to Q2. Kiwi driver Brendon Hartley was in seventeenth however will cop a place penalty after a number of engine issues in practice on Friday necessitated parts changed.
Kimi Raikonnen struggled early but fought back in Q2 and 3 to score sixth and was a full second ahead of Carlos Sainz. Sauber’s Charles Leclerc ran a blinder to edge into eighth, ahead of the Hass duo of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean, with the latter scoring a DNF in Q3 after spinning and tagging a wall just before session’s end.
Force India’s Esteban Ocon will start in eleventh, Renault and Nico Hulkenberg is next door in twelth. Ocon’s team mate Sergio Perez is behind him and sits beside Pierre Gasly in fourteenth.
McLarens Stoffel Vandoorne was well down in 18th but he will start ahead of tail runners Sergey Sirotkin and Lance Stroll from Williams Mercedes.
France will be in the record books for Leclerc who show increasing promise. It’s his first Q3 showing but also makes it the fifth consecutive time he’s moved past Q1. Valtteri Bottas also has a record but one he’d perhaps rather not know. He’s been in P2 for three of the last four races, with pole eluding him. The same , in one sense, also applies to Vettel, with the German driver qualifying for a top three position is all of the races this season.
Circuit Paul Ricard hosts the eighth 2018 F1 race with a start time of 16.10 local time.