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Max Verstappen second fastest in French GP qualifying

Published on 23 July 2022 by Stefan Meens

Max Verstappen will start Sunday’s French Grand Prix from second place on the grid, next to pole sitter Charles Leclerc. The Ferrari driver was quickest at the Circuit Paul Ricard, partly thanks to a tow from teammate Carlos Sainz. Max’ Oracle Red Bull Racing team mate Sergio Perez completed the top three.

“We just fell short, in particular when it came to grip”, Max said after qualifying. “Of course, it would’ve been nice to have a tow, but then again, we didn’t have any grid penalties to serve so I understand that Checo is going for the best he can do. At Ferrari, Carlos does have a grid penalty, so I understand why they gave Charles the tow.”

Looking ahead to the race, the reigning champion said: “It will depend on the tyre wear, but our top speed is helpful. In qualifying you can really push in these corners, but you can’t do that for a whole race distance. We lose the most time in the corners, so hopefully we’re able to half that disadvantage in the race, and we can then hopefully make the difference with our top speed.”

Regarding the balance of his RB18 in qualifying, Max said: “It wasn’t perfect so that’s why the car was quite sensitive. One run I’d have understeer and the next I’d have oversteer. In Q3, I adjusted the front wing in between my runs to have a bit more grip at the front, but then I had a lot of oversteer again.”

The Dutchman continued explaining: “I think we’re pretty much near the limit of the downforce we can add with this wing. That’s good for the straights, but in the final sector that is a bit of a problem. In general, the cars are a bit less predictable so that makes it a bit more challenging. But in the end, it’s the same for everyone, so we just have to adapt.”

Qualifying is another hot affair with ambient temperatures near the 30-degree mark and the Pirellis tyres set to get a beating with the high track temperatures. The front running teams, Red Bull Racing and Ferrari, comfortably progress through to the second part of qualifying ,but further back a close tussle between the midfield runners results in Pierre Gasly (Alpha Tauri), Lance Stroll (Aston Martin), Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo), Mick Schumacher (Haas) and Nicolas Latifi (Williams) all stranding in Q1.

Together with the Ferraris, Perez and Max breeze through to the top ten shoot-out in Q2, with the latter only requiring one flying lap to secure his progression to the next segment. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren), Esteban Ocon (Alpine), Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo), Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) and Alex Albon (Williams) do not make the cut.

In the final part of qualifying all eyes are on Max and his championship rival Leclerc. The Monegasque draws first blood by lapping a mere eight thousands of a second quicker than Max on their first flying laps. On the second, and final run, Leclerc is able to extend his advantage over the Dutchman to three tenths, in part courtesy of a tow from Ferrari colleague Sainz.

Meanwhile, Max improves his lap time slightly, but not enough to threaten Leclerc’s pole position. Behind the duo, the second row of Sunday’s grid will be occupied by Sergio Perez and Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes).

Contest GP France: win a 1:43 Max Verstappen French GP 2021 scale model!

Results qualifying France:

1Charles LeclercLECFerrari1:31.7271:31.2161:30.872
2Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing RBPT1:31.8911:31.9901:31.176
3Sergio PerezPERRed Bull Racing RBPT1:32.3541:32.1201:31.335
4Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes1:33.0411:32.2741:31.765
5Lando NorrisNORMcLaren Mercedes1:32.6721:32.7771:32.032
6George RussellRUSMercedes1:33.1091:32.6331:32.131
7Fernando AlonsoALOAlpine Renault1:32.8191:32.6311:32.552
8Yuki TsunodaTSUAlphaTauri RBPT1:33.3941:32.8361:32.780
9Carlos SainzSAIFerrari1:32.2971:31.081
10Kevin MagnussenMAGHaas Ferrari1:32.7561:32.649
11Daniel RicciardoRICMcLaren Mercedes1:33.4041:32.922
12Esteban OconOCOAlpine Renault1:33.3461:33.048
13Valtteri BottasBOTAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:33.0341:33.052
14Sebastian VettelVETAston Martin Mercedes1:33.2851:33.276
15Alexander AlbonALBWilliams Mercedes1:33.4231:33.307
16Pierre GaslyGASAlphaTauri RBPT1:33.439
17Lance StrollSTRAston Martin Mercedes1:33.439
18Zhou GuanyuZHOAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:33.674
19Mick SchumacherMSCHaas Ferrari1:33.701
20Nicholas LatifiLATWilliams Mercedes1:33.794