QUALIFYING REPORT – 2018 French Grand Prix (Driver Interviews)

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QUALIFYING REPORT – 2018 French Grand Prix (Driver Interviews)

Location: Le Castellet, France

Session: Qualifying (Live Qualifying Article)

Race Weekend: 2018 French Grand Prix

The weather changed everything today and after FP3 with minimal running from teams – we moved onto Qualifying which proved to be rather exciting with a few surprising results.

Lewis Hamilton claimed pole for the 2018 French Grand Prix with his team-mate, Valtteri Bottas, in P2. Sebastian Vettel didn’t look like he had the pace throughout the weekend and the same was showing through Q1 and Q2 however in Q3 – he pushed and claimed P3 ahead of the race tomorrow.

The top3 drivers are all looking confident with their cars and it’ll be a good battle between the top 3 – we all hope!

Both McLarens’ were out in Q1, lacking a lot of pace and looking like they’ve taken a couple of steps back despite the progress however as Fernando Alonso said – it’s tomorrow that counts and they’re still confident that they get within the points.

Charles Leclerc is proving himself and despite not having a strong start to the season, he’s changing things run and bringing the team results by getting through to Q3!

Here’s what team and drivers had to say following the Qualifying session.

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Driver Interviews – QUALIFYING REPORT – 2018 French Grand Prix

MERCEDES

Lewis Hamilton – P1

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Lewis Hamilton: “I’m really happy with the pole, but I always strive for perfection and there was some time left on the track, so I still have stuff to work on.”

“I was three tenths down in the first two sectors; but fortunately, I fixed my last sector and caught it back up. Leading the field is where I want to be, so it’s great to be back on pole. The track is growing on me as well; the more you drive it, the more you get to enjoy it.”

“This is one of the most beautiful places in the world and we have so many fans coming out here, so I’m hoping the weather is good tomorrow.”

“Ferrari will start the race on the UltraSoft tyres, we’re on the SuperSofts, so that should be interesting. We definitely pulled together and have done a better job so far this weekend, but it’s going to be close tomorrow.”

“So I will keep my head down and try to capitalise on all the hard work coming into the race.”

Valtteri Bottas – P2

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Valtteri Bottas: “We were strong today, the team did a really good job. I myself got an okay lap, but did not yet get a perfect lap together.”

“It felt like I was playing catch-up all day after I missed a lot of track time in FP2 track time in FP3 was limited for everyone. So I was still finding gains in every run throughout qualifying. In the end it was not quite perfect, but it was enough to get us a front-row lockout.”

“The team has done an amazing job upgrading the car; every single upgrade, including the engine, helped to make the car better and the total package brought us the front row today.”

“It seems like it might be difficult to overtake on this track, so it’s very good to start from the front. We will see different strategies tomorrow, Ferrari will start on a softer tyre than and it will be interesting to see what effect that has.”

“We have a good car and should have all the tools to fight for a 1-2 tomorrow and I’ll do my best to fight for the win.”

Toto Wolff

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Toto Wolff: “This sport is a rollercoaster of emotions and, after the blow we took two weeks ago in Montreal, it’s fantastic to have both cars on the front row here in Paul Ricard.”

“The team has put blood, sweat and tears into our development programmes over the past weeks and months – and this weekend’s package is the first part of that work to come to fruition.”

“The headline has been the new Power Unit, which has been a massive effort from all the team in Brixworth, but we are continuing to learn and improve in every area of how we run the car, and that work is starting to pay off.”

“Having said all of that, we didn’t come here expecting to put our cars first and second on the grid – it is so close this season between the top three teams that every detail counts, and I’m really proud of the work that we have done since being caught off guard in Montreal. But today is only Saturday – the points are given out tomorrow.”

“There is uncertainty over the weather, and we have taken a different approach to tyre strategy compared to Ferrari, so there are plenty of questions to be answered before we can consider this a job well done.”

James Allison
“That was a slightly nerve-wracking qualifying session from the point of view of the weather, with the ever-present threat of rain, but a little less so from the perspective of our pace, as the car performed strongly with both drivers in all sessions.”

“It is really good to have our second front-row lockout of the year and to be starting from the best possible position to remedy the disappointment of two weeks ago in Canada.”

“This was also the first time during the weekend that we have allowed the new Power Unit to stretch its legs, and the hard work that has gone into it was a helpful part of our advantage today.”

“We are pretty happy to be starting the race on the SuperSoft tyre but know from the analysis of Friday’s long runs that the whole race will be a nip and tuck affair, so we are hoping for a clean run into the first corners tomorrow.”

FERRARI

Sebastian Vettel – P3

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Sebastian Vettel:“It was getting better and better and I was more confident. So, I think today we can be happy with the third place.”

“My last run was not spectacular, though, and I don’t think it was good enough to put me n the front row. After my first attempt in Q3, I had thought I could be closer to Mercedes and hoped to improve. But, unfortunately, in my last fast run I pushed a bit too much and made some mistakes here and there.”

“Anyway, the car is good and we proved it. Let’s see what happens tomorrow, as we start with different tyre strategies. I think the car should be strong in the race.”

Kimi Raikkonen – P6

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Kimi Raikkonen: “My car was working well today and it was a pretty straightforward qualifying until my last run. I was not able to put a timed lap together in the whole of Q3.”

“The first run was pretty decent, but then I went a bit sideways in turn 11, and lost time. After that I was not able to improve my lap time. For tomorrow we chose the strategy that we think is the best for us, but we have to wait and see.”

“In other races we have seen people starting with different tires and it did not change things from night to day. For sure tomorrow will be a challenging day.”

RED BULL RACING

Max Verstappen – P4

Max Verstappen: “I don’t think we maximised the potential of the car in Qualifying today. I was struggling a bit with front grip which didn’t make it easy, but we still qualified in fourth.”

“It would have been nice if it had continued raining all day but unfortunately it dried up just in time for the session. We can see that on the straights we are still down on speed compared to the Mercedes but also we didn’t have the balance of the car perfect, in the long corners we were losing time also.”

“In the race I think we will have to wait and see. My race pace looks good but so does a lot of the others and coming to a new race means anything can happen.”

“I start on the supersoft so Sebastian should have a bit more grip, this will make it a little tricky but hopefully we will go for longer on our tyres.”

“All weekend we haven’t really had a reference as the track is new, there are still a lot of question marks ahead of tomorrow so we just have to wait and see what happens.”

Daniel Ricciardo – P5

Daniel Ricciardo: “We split the cars yesterday, on the downforce levels, with Max lower than me. It was pretty evenly matched yesterday but it looked like the low was worth trying.”

“We put that on for this morning but with the weather we didn’t get to try it. We decided not to run in Qualifying with something we hadn’t tried yet, but we still had a lot of front wing in hand but I think by the end of Q1 we had already used every bit of it and we still had understeer.”

“In other sessions you can do other things on the car but in quali your hands are tied so it was a frustrating day. For tomorrow come race time I’ll be confident but I think we’re going to be a little slow on the straights compared to the guys in front but if it rains then we might be the lucky dogs.”

“I think the wet will make it interesting. In the dry on raw pace we are not quick enough to challenge Mercedes, but in the wet I think it will be exciting for the fans.”

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Christian Horner, Team Principal: “Qualifying the cars in fourth and fifth probably delivered the best we could have expected here at Paul Ricard.”

“After a morning session hampered by rain which restricted our running to almost nothing consequential, qualification on a fast-drying track meant that it was always going to be difficult to challenge our main rivals on the grid. With Max on the second row and Daniel just behind, and starting on the supersoft tyre as opposed to Sebastian on ultrasofts ahead, it will be interesting to see how the race develops and if we can disrupt the order.”

“Weather may also play a part, and with that anything can happen.”

MCLAREN

Fernando Alonso – P16

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Fernando Alonso: “This was a disappointing session for us. Our performance has usually been so-so on Saturdays, with our average position in qualifying so far this year being 13th.”

“That said, I have scored points in every single race I have finished, and hopefully tomorrow will be one of those Sundays. There was nothing wrong with the balance of the car today; our lap-time was just not quick enough to make it into Q2.”

“In our pre-quali meeting, we said we thought we would be around 14th or 15th, so this is more or less where we expected to finish.”

“We know where we are, and, unfortunately, need to keep improving…”

Stoffel Vandoorne – P18

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Stoffel Vandoorne: “It’s very disappointing to see both cars eliminated in Q1. There was nothing particularly wrong with the balance – the feeling was okay – it’s just that we lack pace.”

“Since the start of the season, there’s been a lot going on behind the scenes to understand what’s not working. We need to keep our heads down, keep trying and hopefully turn things around.”

“This weekend has not been good for us – we need to do better. Hopefully we can reverse the form of today and have a better race tomorrow.”

Photos From Today – 2018 French Grand Prix Qualifying

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