2022 French Grand Prix - Saturday
THE ROAD TO POLE
- Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc took pole on the P Zero Red soft tyre, helped by a ‘tow’ from his team mate Carlos Sainz in Q3. All the drivers used the soft tyre from start to finish of qualifying, benefitting from the speed of the red compound to set their quickest times of the weekend.
- Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, who set the fastest time of FP3 (using the P Zero Yellow medium tyre) will line up second on the grid.
- Conditions remained dry and hot today: a factor influencing tyre degradation. Qualifying got underway in 33 degrees ambient and 50 degrees of track temperature: similar conditions to those expected for the race tomorrow at 3pm. The wind also changed direction during the qualifying session today, affecting aerodynamic performance.
- The Pirelli Pole Position Award was presented to Leclerc by former Ferrari driver and local hero Jean Alesi. The Avignon native raced for Ferrari from 1991 to 1995, becoming one of the Scuderia’s most loved drivers.
The hot conditions are likely to point the teams towards a two-stopper, although a one-stopper isn’t out of the question. Starting on the medium tyre gives most options, as this could be followed by two stints on the hard, or a central stint on the hard followed by a final stint on the medium again. It will all come down to degradation rates on race day, which of course vary from car to car.
The other factor deciding the strategy will obviously be the individual compounds that each driver has left in his race allocation.
A one-stopper might not be impossible but it is harder to achieve with more management required. In which case, it would be medium to hard – or alternatively, hard to medium with a long first stint.
“I think we will see some different strategies in conditions that might be even hotter than today”
“On paper, a one-stopper from medium to hard is actually theoretically fastest, but I still think that most teams will be aiming for a two stopper, most likely using the medium and the hard tyres. It’s interesting to note that of the frontrunners, Leclerc is the only one to have one set of hards and two sets of medium tyres left for the race: his direct rivals mostly have two sets of hards and just one set of mediums. So it’s likely that we will see some different strategies, in conditions that are going to be perhaps hotter than today.”
The 21-lap Formula 2 sprint race got underway with nearly all the drivers on the P Zero White hard tyres: the hardest of the two compounds nominated this weekend. Prema’s Jehan Daruvala led away from reverse grid pole, with tyre management at the beginning of the race, in order to preserve tyre life for the later stages as track temperatures fell, being a crucial element. Daruvala was passed by Hitech’s Liam Lawson in the closing stages, with ART Grand Prix’s Theo Pourchaire third. Four drivers started on the P Zero Red soft, with two more drivers switching to it during a safety car period midway through the race.