Verstappen fourth in qualifying French GP: 'We maximised'

Published on 22 June 2019 by Kees-Jan Koster

Max Verstappen will start the French Grand Prix from the second starting row. In the last part of qualifying on the 5.842 km long Circuit Paul Ricard, the Dutchman set a time of 1:29.409, which put him in fourth place. Mercedes was again supreme and took with Lewis Hamilton (P1) and Valtteri Bottas (P2) the first two starting places. Charles Leclerc drove his Ferrari to a third place, but the gap between him and the fastest time of Hamilton, who took his sixtieth pole for Mercedes, was with more than six tenths big.

“I think we took the maximum result”, says Max after qualifying. “My lap was not the best, because the car behaved a bit strange in the last two corners. We have to look at that. Otherwise we could have been closer to Ferrari. It seems that McLaren is now very close to us, but normally we should be three, four tenths ahead of them. But we maximised our position and I am happy to be on the second starting row.”

During qualifying multiple drivers report about a change in the wind direction. What is the effect of this on the car? “The cars are this year extra sensitive to the wind and that is not nice. During my first lap in Q3 I had a moment and that is not ideal. You just have to try and deal with it.”

About his chances for a podium finish tomorrow Max says: “We need a bit of luck I think. I do not think we can fight the Mercedes, but hopefully we can with the Ferraris. It will be tricky, but at least we start in a good position in comparison with Canada. We give it a good go and see where we end up.”

It is 3PM when the lights on the end of the pit lane go green for Q1. Unlike in free practice it is straight away busy on track. After the first runs it is Valtteri Bottas (1:31.378), Charlec Leclerc (+0.063) and Lewis Hamilton (+0.083) who form the top three. Max Vertappen finishes his first quick lap in 1:32.636, which is at that time good enough for P11.

Bottas improves his first attempt significantly by setting a 1:30.550. Both Hamilton and Leclerc improve and keep the gap to P2 and P3 with less than a tenth small. Max sets in his second run a 1:31.327, putting him in P4. However Vettel is in his new attempt a little bit faster (1:31.075), which pushes the Dutchman a place down.

At the end of the session it is Daniil Kvyat, Romain Grosjean, Lance Stroll, George Russell and Robert Kubica who drop out of Q1. Max does not come out again for a new lap and finishes Q1 in fourteenth position.

At the start of the second part of qualifying the drivers of Mercedes and Ferrari come out on medium tires. Also Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz go for the yellow striped tires. The Dutchman sets a time of 1:30.572, which is at that time good for third place, behind both Mercedes. When also the Ferrari drivers have finished a quick lap, it is Leclerc who takes P3 from Max with a 1:30.466. Vettel ends behind Max with just over a tenth of a second.

The first time of Max is invalidated because the Dutchman drove outside of the track limits. However he improves himself again with a 1:30.099. Because the other drivers are improving too, the Dutchman stays in fourth position, behind Bottas (1:29.437), Hamilton (+0.083) and Leclerc (+0.497). Because Red Bull Racing do not want to take a risk, they send out Verstappen in the end phase of the session on the soft tire. But the margin was big enough, which means that Max will start the race tomorrow on the medium tire.

Teammate Pierre Gasly just finishes tenth on the soft tires. Alexander Albon, Kimi Räikkönen, Nico Hülkenberg, Sergio Pérez and Kevin Magnussen are too slow and drop out of Q2. Antonio Giovinazzi is doing well and finishes with his Alfa Romeo in P9.

When Q3 starts, it is both McLarens who enter the tarmac in Le Castellet first. After the first runs the top six is formed by Lewis Hamilton (1:28.448), Valtteri Bottas (1:28.605), Charles Leclerc (1:29.015), Max Verstappen (1:29.695) and Carlos Sainz (1:29.708). Sebastian Vettel had to abort his first quick lap and will have to make it work with only one attempt.

At the end of the last part of qualifying Valtteri Bottas was not able to improve. Lewis Hamilton is able to improve taking off more than a tenth of his quickest lap, taking pole position. Leclerc (+0.646) and Verstappen (+1.090) take P3 and P4 on the second start row. McLaren have a reason to celebrate with P5 and P6, in contrast to Vettel who does not come further than P7. Ricciardo, Gasly and Giovinazzi complete the top ten.

French GP contest: win an orange G-Star MAXRAW T-shirt and metal VER keyring!

Results qualifying France:

1Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes1:30.6091:29.5201:28.319
2Valtteri BottasBOTMercedes1:30.5501:29.4371:28.605
3Charles LeclercLECFerrari1:30.6471:29.6991:28.965
4Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing Honda1:31.3271:30.0991:29.409
5Lando NorrisNORMcLaren Renault1:30.9891:30.0191:29.418
6Carlos SainzSAIMcLaren Renault1:31.0731:30.3191:29.522
7Sebastian VettelVETFerrari1:31.0751:29.5061:29.799
8Daniel RicciardoRICRenault1:30.9541:30.3691:29.918
9Pierre GaslyGASRed Bull Racing Honda1:31.1521:30.4211:30.184
10Antonio GiovinazziGIOAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:31.1801:30.4081:33.420
11Alexander AlbonALBScuderia Toro Rosso Honda1:31.4451:30.461
12Kimi RäikkönenRAIAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:30.9721:30.533
13Nico HulkenbergHULRenault1:30.8651:30.544
14Sergio PerezPERRacing Point BWT Mercedes1:30.9641:30.738
15Kevin MagnussenMAGHaas Ferrari1:31.1661:31.440
16Daniil KvyatKVYScuderia Toro Rosso Honda1:31.564
17Romain GrosjeanGROHaas Ferrari1:31.626
18Lance StrollSTRRacing Point BWT Mercedes1:31.726
19George RussellRUSWilliams Mercedes1:32.789
20Robert KubicaKUBWilliams Mercedes1:33.205