Max Verstappen won the French Grand Prix on Saturday alongside Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes alongside the Red Bull driver in the front row to lay the groundwork for another part of this season’s title fight. Valtteri Bottas starts in the second row in another Mercedes with Sergio Perez from the Verstappen team. Verstappen took a four-point lead over Hamilton in the Formula One word championship on Sunday before the seventh race of the season at the Paul Ricard circuit. Hamilton won the last two races at Le Castellet in 2018 and 2019 from the poles, but Verstappen advanced to the standings after dominating in the last two training sessions as a man who won. Verstappen, who has been in Bahrain since the start of the season, is looking to get his first place, and is eager to win a pole, when a crushed tire almost certainly earned him his last victory in Baku.
“So far it’s been a very positive weekend, on a track that is usually difficult for us. Being nice was very nice.
“It’s a great day for us, but we have to finish tomorrow and get 25 points – the ones we lost in Baku. Great promise on our part.”
After trying to keep tabs with his Red Bull Rival in practice, Hamilton calmed down by narrowing the gap between them to 0.258s.
“We will keep moving forward, fighting and giving our all. The long-term pace is a tenth or two faster than us, but the car is in a different place now,” the seven-time world champion said.
“We’re going to fight for a chance at the first round and it could be an interesting strategy tomorrow, and I think it could rain tomorrow, so it’s a chance to see the rain master,” he added.
Carlos Sainz set the fastest fastest time for Ferrari in the standings, finishing third with Pierre Gasly’s Alpha Tauri.
Then came Sainz teammates Charles Leclerc and McLaren Lando Norris with Fernando Alonso (Alpine) and Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) with the top 10.
– ‘It’s awful’ –
With 15,000 people watching the standings eased by coronavirus restrictions, Q1 was just four minutes away when Japanese rookie Yuki Tsunoda lost control of his Alpha Tauri after stepping out of his first round, elegantly into the safety fence of his car.
Tsunoda failed for the fourth time in seven to make it to Q2.
With 22 seconds left in Q1, Mick Schumacher’s Haas fell into the fence. The German’s lucky luck entered Q2 for the first time in his newly started F1 career, but he was unable to take part with the car that needed repairs.
Verstappen passed Q1 with Hamilton, Perez and Bottas closest.
The Mercedes pair prevailed in Q2 time, much more rigorous than what Bottas practiced in Hamilton. Perez and Verstappen were next, creating a brilliant Q3 fight for the Provencal pole.
After the first roll of the Q3 dice, Verstappen’s provisional pole was alongside Hamilton, and so it ended after the last wave of Flying Child.
Hamilton and Mercedes were thankful to return to the traditional circuit after tragic performances on the streets of Monaco and Baku.
In the evidence for this classification the cars of the two teams are quite identical.
One man who likes attractive competition is Toto Wolff, director of the Mercedes team. He said: “I think it’s fantastic (thrown this season). It’s not an easy year, but this year? It’s awesome.”
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