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Charles Leclerc on pole

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc won qualifying for the French Grand Prix on Sunday (3 p.m. in the FAZ live ticker for Formula 1 and on Sky). The runner-up in the championship set the fastest time on Saturday at the Paul Ricard racetrack in Le Castellet. Second was Max Verstappen in the Red Bull, 0.3 seconds behind, followed by his stable mate Sergio Perez, who was 0.46 seconds off the best time. Lewis Hamilton finished fourth ahead of Lando Norris (5th) and George Russell (6th) in the second Mercedes.

Before the hunt for times began, it was already clear that Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz would have to start from the end of the field because Scuderia had changed the engine and other parts on his F1-75. For this, the Spaniard will be transferred as a punishment.

Verstappen with difficulties

During Friday’s two practice sessions, Ferrari already looked like a surefire contender for pole position. World champion Max Verstappen, on the other hand, struggled in his RB18, complained on the radio about his understeering company car and missed the right balance.

In the third practice session on Saturday afternoon, however, the Dutchman set the fastest time and underlined his ambitions for first place. In the crucial third qualifying phase, Charles Leclerc also benefited from the fact that his team-mate Carlos Sainz, for whom his penalty meant nothing anyway, gave him helpful slipstreams on the long Mistral straight.

praise from the competition

“It worked thanks to Carlos,” admitted Leclerc. “Without Carlos it would have been much closer. Hopefully he’ll be back at the front in the fight tomorrow.” The competition also had to acknowledge the perfect teamwork between the red teammates: “Ferrari made optimal use of the slipstream game,” said Red Bulls advisor Helmut Marko. “But the gap is not as drastic as it looks.”

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