Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Paul Ricard, 2022

Leclerc claims French Grand Prix pole position with a little help from Sainz

2022 French Grand Prix qualifying

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Charles Leclerc took pole position for the French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard after team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr set him up with a slipstream in the final sector.

Leclerc benefitted from Sainz waiting for him on the exit of the Mistral chicane and towing him through Signes to set pole postion with a 1’30.872, three tenths of a second ahead of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.

Sainz will start tomorrow’s race from the back of the grid, alongside Kevin Magnussen’s Haas, which also reached the final phase of qualifying.


Track conditions were virtually identical to the three practice sessions leading up to qualifying as the first phase got underway at Paul Ricard.

Charles Leclerc was one of the first drivers to set a time in the session and unsurprisingly it was the fastest – indeed, his 1’31.727 was the quickest time of the weekend so far. Sergio Perez’s first effort was a full six tenths slower than the Ferrari’s, but Max Verstappen got closer in the other Red Bull. He moved into second place on his first timed lap, just over a tenth of a second slower than Leclerc but comfortably quicker than his team mate.

Leclerc attempted a second push lap on his soft tyres but could not improve on his initial time, and told his team he didn’t understand why they had attempted it. Team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr moved third with his first effort, just over half a second behind his team mate at the top of the times.

With five minutes remaining, the track fell virtually silent. The four drivers at risk of elimination were Zhou Guanyu, Mick Schumacher, Nicholas Latifi and Sebastian Vettel, with Kevin Magnussen choosing only to make a single run at the end of the session in the knowledge he would start from the back of the grid whatever happened.

As time ticked down to just under four minutes remaining, the drivers all took to the track for their final efforts. Already in trouble, a mistake by Zhou exiting turn six ruined his lap and guaranteed his elimination.

Alexander Albon also had a spin at the chicane, putting him in danger of being eliminated. The yellow flags caught out Pierre Gasly, who was forced to back off and could not improve on his personal best time. That left the AlphaTauri vulnerable and when Mick Schumacher improved, it appeared to seal Gasly’s elimination.

However, Schumacher’s time was deleted when the stewards noticed he had cut the inside of turn three, dropping the Haas back down to 19th. Vettel improved into 12th to go safe, pushing Gasly into 16th. The AlphaTauri driver was therefore eliminated while Albon, whose spin had compromised his final run, went through.

Gasly joined Stroll, Zhou, Latifi and Schumacher in elimination. It was a particular blow for Haas, as their only driver to reach Q2 was the one doomed to start at the back due to his power unit penalty.

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Q1 result

116Charles LeclercFerrariF1-751’31.7275
21Max VerstappenRed BullRB181’31.8910.1645
355Carlos Sainz JnrFerrariF1-751’32.2970.5703
411Sergio PerezRed BullRB181’32.3540.6278
54Lando NorrisMcLaren-MercedesMCL361’32.6720.9453
620Kevin MagnussenHaas-FerrariVF-221’32.7561.0293
714Fernando AlonsoAlpine-RenaultA5221’32.8191.0925
877Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo-FerrariC421’33.0341.3077
944Lewis HamiltonMercedesW131’33.0411.3145
1063George RussellMercedesW131’33.1091.3826
115Sebastian VettelAston Martin-MercedesAMR221’33.2851.5589
1231Esteban OconAlpine-RenaultA5221’33.3461.6196
1322Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Red BullAT031’33.3941.6678
143Daniel RicciardoMcLaren-MercedesMCL361’33.4041.6776
1523Alexander AlbonWilliams-MercedesFW441’33.4231.6965
1610Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Red BullAT031’33.4391.7127
1718Lance StrollAston Martin-MercedesAMR221’33.4391.7129
1824Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo-FerrariC421’33.6741.9478
1947Mick SchumacherHaas-FerrariVF-221’33.7011.9749
206Nicholas LatifiWilliams-MercedesFW441’33.7942.0676

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Mercedes were the first out on track as the second qualifying segment began, sending both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell out on used tyres. Hamilton was the first to cross the line and set the initial benchmark time of a 1’33.329, with team mate Russell three tenths slower at the end of his first lap.

Lando Norris moved into first place on new soft tyres, before he was deposed by Leclerc’s Ferrari on old softs. Then the Red Bulls set their first flying laps on new soft tyres, with Verstappen setting the fastest time just over a tenth ahead of team mate Perez.

Sainz took advantage of a clear track to attempt his first run of Q2. Using new soft tyres, Sainz went significantly faster in the first two sectors before completing a blistering lap to go easily fastest, nine tenths faster than Verstappen.

Again, the track cleared until just under five minutes remaining. Sitting in the drop zone in 12th, Russell asked Mercedes to send him out early to avoid the risk of his next lap being compromised by yellow flags. The team weren’t able to get him out until the final few cars joined the track, but no yellow flags appeared in the deciding minutes.

Vettel, Esteban Ocon, Albon and Tsunoda were the other drivers who had to improve their times to earn a right to run in Q3. Albon and Ocon were the first drivers over the line to start their laps, with Albon improving from 14th to tenth, still on the bubble. Ocon jumped to sixth, which knocked the Williams back outside the top 10 and into elimination.

Vettel’s final effort was only good enough to move him ahead of Albon, but not into the top 10. Bottas and Tsunoda both appeared to have moved into safety, but Russell and Alonso all improved their times to put both Bottas, Tsunoda and Ricciardo back at risk.

Magnussen in tenth improved on his final lap, moving Ricciardo onto the bubble. Hamilton was the final driver in danger able to set another time and the Mercedes comfortably jumped to fifth, knocking out Ricciardo.

That left Ricciardo, Ocon, Bottas, Vettel and Albon all out, although all five will gain at least two positions on the starting grid after Sainz and Magnussen serve their penalties.

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Q2 result

155Carlos Sainz JnrFerrariF1-751’31.0816
216Charles LeclercFerrariF1-751’31.2160.13511
31Max VerstappenRed BullRB181’31.9900.9098
411Sergio PerezRed BullRB181’32.1201.03914
544Lewis HamiltonMercedesW131’32.2741.19313
614Fernando AlonsoAlpine-RenaultA5221’32.6311.55011
763George RussellMercedesW131’32.6331.55214
820Kevin MagnussenHaas-FerrariVF-221’32.6491.5689
94Lando NorrisMcLaren-MercedesMCL361’32.7771.6968
1022Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Red BullAT031’32.8361.75514
113Daniel RicciardoMcLaren-MercedesMCL361’32.9221.84112
1231Esteban OconAlpine-RenaultA5221’33.0481.96712
1377Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo-FerrariC421’33.0521.97113
145Sebastian VettelAston Martin-MercedesAMR221’33.2762.19515
1523Alexander AlbonWilliams-MercedesFW441’33.3072.22611

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The final stage of qualifying saw both Ferraris head out onto the track together, Sainz ahead of his team mate. As he was set to start at the back regardless of his final position due to his penalty, Sainz was pressed into service to ensure Leclerc benefited from a slipstream.

Perez was the first driver to set a time, a 1’31.640. That was immediately beaten by Verstappen, who went four tenths faster to move into provisional pole position. But heading along the Mistral straight, Sainz backed off to allow Leclerc to gain a tow, allowing the Ferrari to take pole by just eight-thousandths of a second after the first run.

Sainz abandoned his run without setting a time. That left Leclerc fastest ahead of Verstappen and Russell fourth, one place ahead of team mate Hamilton in fifth as the field returned to the garage to prepare for their final run.

In the final minutes, Ferrari again sent Sainz out first ahead of Leclerc, while Red Bull opted to scramble Perez first onto the circuit while Verstappen was released behind the two Ferraris for his final run.

Leclerc went fastest of all in the first sector, while Sainz again backed off after the Mistral chicane before getting up to speed as Leclerc approached behind him. In an expertly-judged move, Sainz gave Leclerc a perfect slipstream along the straight through Signes before jumping out of the way before the braking zone for turn 11.

Leclerc completed his lap to set a stunning time of a 1’30.872 to take pole position. Only Verstappen had a realistic opportunity of beating that, but while he improved on his personal best, he was still three tenths of a second off from pole. That secured Leclerc his seventh pole position of the season, with Verstappen alongside on the front row and Perez behind them in third.

Hamilton jumped ahead of Russell at the chequered flag to take fourth place, with Lando Norris also demoting Russell down a place by splitting the two Mercedes in fifth on his final lap. Fernando Alonso will start seventh on the grid, ahead of Yuki Tsunoda in eighth. Both Sainz and Magnussen failed to set a time in Q3, but will occupy the back row of the grid for tomorrow’s race.

Q3 result

116Charles LeclercFerrariF1-751’30.87217
21Max VerstappenRed BullRB181’31.1760.30414
311Sergio PerezRed BullRB181’31.3350.46320
444Lewis HamiltonMercedesW131’31.7650.89319
54Lando NorrisMcLaren-MercedesMCL361’32.0321.16014
663George RussellMercedesW131’32.1311.25920
714Fernando AlonsoAlpine-RenaultA5221’32.5521.68017
822Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Red BullAT031’32.7801.90820
955Carlos Sainz JnrFerrariF1-75No time10
1020Kevin MagnussenHaas-FerrariVF-22No time9

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2022 French Grand Prix

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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14 comments on “Leclerc claims French Grand Prix pole position with a little help from Sainz”

  1. Mick cost himself Q2 & possibly even Q3 by being over-eager.

  2. Great teamwork by Sainz, not common in F1, but Leclerc likely hot pile by .1 anyway.

    1. *got pole

  3. Good teamwork by Sainz… and by Magnussen

  4. Ocon is really getting Vandoorned by Alonso with ridiculous gaps.

    1. This, also good thing Lewis is infront of George..

      Top drivers need to keep proving themself.

      1. Huge lap from Norris after just scraping through into q3. But 2s covering the top 10 is huge. Leader might lap people well into the points positions. Sainz is going to go through the field like they are not even there. Hamilton is going to be racing him for fourth.

  5. With or without the tow Charles would have bin first the gap would not be so big but Charles was improving on his own time all lap before the tow. Max had yellow times when the tow happened so he was not gonna improve so Charles would hav bin on pole already on his first time set. Can you people get some journalistic integrity and report stuff how it actually happened. Go back and rewatch it and you will see i am right so help or no help Charles would be faster. Just by his first time set. And the second time would have bin faster with or without Carlos help. Nice seeing them work together to help the team and seeing Ferrari making something smart happen.

  6. So what does Leclerc’s assisted pole say about his chances tomorrow? It might be that he needed the asist because of the way his car was set up, eg a race configuration, with that being slower than for qualifyiing.

    Verstappen and perez may have sacrificed someting to get track position. We shall see.

    Mean time we have the prospect of a cracking start with Hamilton line up behind verstappen, and Russell lined up behind Hamilton. Let’s hope everyone gets off to a clean start.

    Is there any word on what tires they’ll start on? i think that may also be crutial.

  7. Wow looks like things are starting to come together for Ferrari. The Silverstone craziness and Binotto’s parental finger helped Leclerc get his mojo back.

    But Sainz is still a mystery to me.

  8. I noticed an improvement in this section: showing all 20 times of q1, all 15 times in q2, I think in the past on this website it used to only show the ones eliminated or in any case not the full times.

  9. *got pole

  10. I will paraphrase Chris Horner in Abu Dhabi qualifying result, when Hamilton got the pole but Verstappen had purple in the slowest part of the track.

    “Sectors 1 and 3 are the slowest sectors of the circuit, which is more driver dependent, while sector 2 is the fastest, which is more car dependent”

    Note: Leclerc was fastest on sectors 1 and 3. 😂😂😂

    1. Correction. Verstappen got the pole last year when he made this comment.

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