The doubts that existed among the fans to see the performance that the Spanish riders could take on a permanent circuit like Paul Ricard’s were cleared up in qualifying for the French GP this Saturday. As Toto Wolff advanced, although this time it was true, this is a circuit that is adapts very well to Red Bull conditions. Thus, Max Verstappen was able not only to take pole – he had already been the fastest in two of the three free practice sessions – but to achieve it with solvency over the Mercedes. More than two and a half tenths the Dutchman put Lewis Hamilton, which had been the great dominator of Saturdays since F1 returned to France.
Vertappen did it in a classification that started with mess. Yuki Tsunoda, who is increasingly being portrayed as a pilot surpassed by this category, did not last a curve before crashing. The consequent red flag caused the session to be delayed for a moment under a red flag, something that later also added more minutes of suspense to another Mick Schumacher accident. The ‘mazepization’ of the son of the ‘Kaiser’ continues to progress adequately, and that this time he was able to get into Q2.
After a session that, from then on, was much calmer, Carlos Sainz consummated a new sabbath in the ‘top 5’. It is already becoming a habit. In four of the last five qualifying Saturdays he has achieved a grid position there. He needs to finish the job on Sunday, when his teammate Charles Leclerc is capable of taking a qualitative leap and fixing what he does not achieve on Saturdays. Beyond the result, for Sainz it has been a very positive weekend.
“We are on the right way. Let’s see if we can get the exit and the strategy right, which are the other two things to work on. It was the first qualifying without problems in a long time, the races go by and I’m feeling more comfortable», Admitted the Madrilenian, according to the result. His teammate Leclerc, however, fell short in Q3.
Alonso, ahead of Ocon
One of the great criticisms that Fernando Alonso was receiving at the beginning of the season was that he was not being able to overcome Esteban Ocon. For a competitive animal like him, who is also accustomed not only to winning, but also to destroying his companions, these types of phrases hurt him even more. In the absence of knowing what is going to happen this Sunday in the race, for Alonso it is being a dream weekend. Ocon has not surpassed him in any of the sessions disputed so far.
In qualifying, while the Asturian made the cut to Q3 with relative comfort, his recently renewed teammate stayed in Q2 to start this Sunday in eleventh position. Alonso started the final batch very well, even in positions of being sixth or seventh, but in the end he could only be ninth. That, seen what has been seen, is a more than acceptable result.
The objective of scoring again is obviously there, but he has already warned that it will be very expensive. It’s going to be very tight. We have bad customers around us, McLaren and Ferrari, plus perhaps those who come out behind us with new tires. The points are going to be expensive. I do not think it will be a race with many points, but we will be there and take advantage of any opportunity, “he said.
Apart from the result itself, Alpine’s technical adaptations to make Alonso feel more comfortable are paying off. This weekend he is looking more comfortable, although he has had to slightly modify his style. “The harder tire supports my more aggressive driving a little better. Here we knew that we were going to try to do the time trial with the yellows, we started reserving them from Friday and we had three games, “he explained. This decision can be key, as a Sunday with high temperatures and some wind is expected, which will significantly affect the behavior of the car. The key is not to be wrong. Although the starts do not penalize in terms of an accident because the walls are far away, the braking passes do, which destroy the tires. Any mistake will be critical.