French GP – Qualifying
Hello MiniFans! It’s time for the first qualifying in France after ten seasons without a French Grand Prix ! It promised to be a real battle in the top ten on a slightly wet circuit.
Hartley had to stop his second practice session on Friday with engine problems. The Kiwi recieved consequently a brand new Honda engine for tomorrow’s race and a bonus gridpenalty of a whopping 35 places prior to Free Practice 3 on Saturday. He will therefore start from the back of the grid. Verstappen drove a very noticeable second best lap, while Stroll had litterly a flying lap after missing turn one and damaged the floor of his car. Though he could continue his lap, he mocked it up and ended up in twentieth position behind Alonso as sixteenth, Hartley, Vandoorne and Sirotkin.
The fifteen drivers who made it to the second part of qualifying were blessed with some light rain. The slippery track wasn’t wet enough to put intermediate tyres on the cars, which made them struggle a bit with grip. It was a close call between Grosjean and Ericsson in the pit lane. Ericsson came out of his box, while Grosjean was already coming and the two drivers almost collided. Leclerc drove a tremendous lap and made it to the top ten and his first ever Q3 of his Formula 1 carreer, while we left Ocon, Hulkenberg, Perez, Gasly and Ericsson behind in Q2.
Grosjean caused a red flag in Q3. He braked too late on the wet track, lost control over his car and glissaded into the wall. Raikkonen had the track for his own as soon as the green flag appeared again. The battle for pole position began two minutes before the checkered flag. All the drivers struggled with keeping the car on the track, though Mercedes did the best job on it and finished on the first row. Leclerc had one of those fantastic days by qualifying on the fourth row.
Hamilton took the first pole in 28 years on Paul Ricard. Bottas completed the first row and is followed by Vettel, Verstappen, Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Sainz, Leclerc, Magnussen and Grosjean.