Carlos Sainz Jnr, McLaren, Paul Ricard, 2019

McLaren make 3.5-second leap forward in France

Lap time watch: 2019 French Grand Prix

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McLaren have made a huge step forward in performance at the French Grand Prix, lapping the Paul Ricard circuit three-and-a-half seconds faster than they did last year.

Twelve months ago Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne were eliminated in the first round of qualifying in their MCL33s.

At the same track today Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz Jnr claimed the third row of the grid for the orange cars, beating a Ferrari and a Red Bull each, signalling the progress the team has made.

Every team on the grid is lapping quicker at the resurfaced circuit than they did last year. But none of them have found as much lap time as McLaren. Renault, McLaren’s engine suppliers, are the next most-improved team, lapping two seconds faster than last year.

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Part of McLaren’s gain appears to be because Paul Ricard is quicker for all the teams this year. Lewis Hamilton knocked over 1.7 seconds off the track record as he took pole position for Mercedes.

At the opposite end of the spectrum Haas are just three-tenths of a second quicker than they were last year. That’s a particularly surprising result for the team which performed strongly at the Circuit de Catalunya, a track which shares some characteristics with the French GP venue.

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2019 French Grand Prix

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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6 comments on “McLaren make 3.5-second leap forward in France”

  1. So, 3,5 seconds, about twice the average of the rest of the field and third row, no matter what happens tomorrow, I think McLaren deserve a bit of a party.

  2. I’m a bit surprised about the improvement in absolute lap time being approx 1.7 seconds over 2018 given that on average it’s been around 6-7 tenths on nearly every venue F1 has been to thus far this season. I guess the ‘partly’ resurfaced tarmac impacted that to an extent, but there has to be something else to it as well.

    1. @jerejj The higher temperatures? I would have thought that would have the opposite effect, but maybe it didn’t?

  3. So close to beating both Red Bulls! Astonishing form, I hope they can build on that. McLaren should have had this kind of performance long ago but they seem on the path to recovery.

  4. A bit of De Ja Vu for Renault,another customer team outperforming them

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