Judging from free practice 1 and 2, on Friday, and Free Practice 3 on Saturday, you’d think Valterri Bottas would have the weekend sewn up. You’d think he’d build on his epic pace from last year, around Paul Ricard at Le Castellet, and line up on pole for the French Grand Prix. But it was not to be. Lewis Hamilton’s speed came where it counts, and in the final qualifying session he outshone his less illustrious teammate by nearly three tenths of a second. To mere mortals that wouldn’t sound much but, in identical F1 machinery, that’s a country mile. Waiting in the wings, Esteban Ocon will be one member of the Mercedes family that will be delighted.
Charles Leclerc also managed to convert his strong practice [ace to second row on the grid. He’ll breath a sigh of relief that he’s getting better at stringing a race weekend together. The same cannot be said for his teammate. Sebastian Vettel lines up 7th!
But the moral victors of Saturdays qualifying had to be McLaren. With Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz Jnr lining up 5th and 6th it was a truly fantastic result for the resurgent team from Woking. Team Boss Zak Brown jumping with excitement as he congratulated his team on the pit wall.
Special mentions should also be made for Dan Ricciardo, lining up on the fourth row and outshining Nico Hulkenberg yet again. Rounding out the top ten was Antonio Giovinazzi who has had a difficult start to the season and will also be delighted with his result, and out-qualifying hos more decorated team-mate by a couple of tenths to make the final qualifying shoot-out.