Lewis Hamilton can empathise with Charles Leclerc's struggles after the Ferrari driver surrendered another race victory from pole position at the French Grand Prix on Sunday.

The Monegasque spun out midway while leading the pack at Circuit Paul Ricard, allowing rival Max Verstappen to notch up another win at his expense.

The Red Bull driver has taken advantage of Leclerc's errors before this term, as he seeks to make it a second consecutive drivers' championship crown, and now sits 63 points ahead of the latter.

Hamilton also capitalised on the Ferrari driver's misfortune to post his best finish of the season after a difficult campaign battling with a below-par Mercedes car since the start of the year.

But the seven-time world champion believes Leclerc will bounce back thanks to Ferrari's impressive form, adding that he understands the struggles his fellow driver is going through.

"It's been great to see the pace of the Ferrari this year," Hamilton stated. "I'm gutted for Charles, who's being doing a great job, as has Carlos [Sainz].

"It's not easy, though, having that pace and that performance and maintaining it. It's a tough job and I feel for the whole team because I know what that can feel like.

"But they're a great team, and they'll continue to keep their heads down."

Ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix – the final race before the mid-season hiatus – Hamilton is feeling buoyant following a fourth podium finish in a row.

While he still feels Mercedes will not be able to mount a challenge to upend the latter half of the season between Red Bull and Ferrari, he is brimming with confidence on how their experiences can shape their approach to 2023.

"I know exactly what I want in the car for next year," he added. "Things that fundamentally can't change [this year], because it's too big to change here with a cost cap this year.

"So I'm able to – ahead of time – say these are the things I want in the next year's car.

"Those things are being taken into account and whilst we continue to try and dial this car in, of course bit by bit, as we go into these next weeks, the next couple of months, the full focus will probably be into next year's car."

Carlos Sainz has defended Ferrari's strategy after a late pit stop cost the Spaniard a potential podium finish at the French Grand Prix. 

Ferrari endured a frustrating outing at Le Castellet as Red Bull stretched their lead at the top of Formula One's constructors' standings to 82 points.

With Charles Leclerc crashing out of the race for his third retirement of the season when in a leading position, Red Bull's Max Verstappen was followed onto the podium by Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and George Russell.

Sainz had just overtaken Sergio Perez to assume third place when Ferrari took the decision to call the 27-year-old in for a late pit stop, after which he finished in fifth, his worst performance of the campaign, excluding retirements. 

Ferrari chief Mattia Binotto defended the decision after the race, insisting Sainz would have struggled to maintain his pace without new tyres, and the Spaniard has offered his support for the team's overall strategy.

"I think the team is doing a very good job on strategy this year," Sainz told Sky Sports.

"At Ferrari we get super criticised for things that other teams might be going through also in their pit stop windows.

"Every time there is a tricky moment on strategy, we are discussing things, but we are not a disaster like people seem to say we are."

While Sainz added he would have liked the opportunity to stay out and challenge the leaders after surging from the back row of the grid, he insisted he trusts his team's ability to weigh up the data and make decisive calls.

"We like to discuss things, we are open about them," Sainz added. "Yes, I was in the middle of an overtake, but the team believed that was the right lap to stop and come back through the field.

"I believed at the time that maybe it was better to risk it and stay out and see what happens with the tyres, even if it was the medium tyre on the limit of its life, but I had just made it to P3 and I saw a podium position. 

"I thought, 'if I make these tyres last, maybe I can finish on the podium', but we will never know.

"The team has a lot more data on the computer, they have a lot more numbers to go through, and if they took that decision, I'm 100 per cent convinced that they did it with the best of intentions and the best spirit. 

"We need to keep progressing, and we need to analyse everything and see how we can be better, but I'm convinced the team is doing a good job."

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto has clarified Charles Leclerc's concerns about the throttle following his crash from the lead at the French Grand Prix.

Leclerc was ahead of Red Bull's Max Verstappen when he lost the rear tyre and collided with the wall, suffering a third retirement of the season while in a leading position.

The Monegasque driver took responsibility for the incident with his post-race comments but had raised queries on the reason for the crash with remarks over the team radio, where he complained about the throttle.

Ferrari have suffered with throttle problems already this season and Leclerc's comments raised concerns they had emerged again in Sunday's race, but Binotto explained the reason for the comments from his driver.

"It was a mistake, it happens, as we have made reliability issues. I said to Charles, we make life a bit more difficult, but he's feeling better and we will enjoy more in the future," he told Sky Sports.

"It was a genuine driver error. The throttle, it was when he was in the barrier and tried to put it into reverse. 

"Without going into details, he felt that the torque of the engine was not responding to the throttle, but it was nothing to do with the mistake.

"There is always something to improve. Step by step, I think we are progressing and becoming better. Today, we've proved that we have a fast car and a very competitive one.

"We're looking now to Hungary. We can do a one-two there, why not? So we simply focus on the next result."

Ferrari also faced scrutiny behind the decision to call Carlos Sainz in for a second pit stop, with the initial radio call coming as he overtook Sergio Perez for third place, but Binotto remained adamant it was the correct call.

"We don't feel it was the right choice, we're pretty sure it was the right choice. At the time, he was short on life with wear on the tyres so it would have been really risky to go to the end," he explained.

"We don't think he would have had the pace to fight second because he had the five-second penalty. By stopping, he did the fastest lap which was certainly a point, so I think it was the safest and the right decision to take.

"I don't think it cost us a pace. If he had stayed out, I don't think he would have opened the gap to the guy behind, so we don't think he would have had sufficient time."

Staying cool and overcoming the challenge of tyre wear in the searing heat of the French Grand Prix were the keys for Max Verstappen as he took advantage of Charles Leclerc's crash to prevail. 

The defending Formula One world champion extended his lead at the top of the standings to 63 points with victory in France for the second year in a row, capitalising after Leclerc spun into the barriers while leading in the opening quarter of the race.

That allowed Verstappen to take the lead under the safety car, and he remained there throughout even though the high temperatures put the tyres under pressure and another pit stop was not possible due to the long length of the pit lane at the Circuit Paul Ricard.

"I think we had really good pace at the start, I was putting pressure on Charles but following around here with this heat, the tyres were overheating a lot, I could never really go for a move," he said on the grid after the race.

"We just tried to stay calm, tried to stay close, we pitted a bit earlier. From there onwards, you never know how the race is going to go.

"The car was quick today and it was unlucky for Charles, I hope he's ok. From there onwards, I just did my race and looked after my tyres.

"With the pit lane being so long, you couldn't do another stop but the tyres were wearing a lot. It was all about looking after the tyres until the end."

Asked whether the win felt different as Leclerc wasn't there to battle with on the track, Verstappen added: "I was just trying to get the most points possible.

"Of course, sometimes you see moves are on and then you need to back out, wait maybe for the end of the race. 

"That is what we did, there are plenty more races to come where we have to score points and, in that aspect, I think today was a great day."

Hungary is up next before F1's summer break, with the Hungaroring a track many consider to be favourable to Ferrari and Verstappen admitted improvements need to be made.

Verstappen said: "We still have a lot of work to do, over a single lap especially, so we will just keep working."

Max Verstappen extended his advantage at the top of the championship to 63 points with victory at the French Grand Prix after Charles Leclerc crashed while leading.

Leclerc's latest retirement may prove to be the final dent in his 2022 title ambitions, with Verstappen looking to be heading into clean air as he bids to win back-to-back F1 championships.

The Dutchman finished over 10 seconds ahead of Lewis Hamilton in what turned into a routine win, while George Russell took third to secure Mercedes' first double-podium of the season.

A strong start from Hamilton saw him leapfrog Sergio Perez on the opening lap and put Verstappen under pressure, though the reigning champion defended well to remain ahead of his pursuer.

The Red Bull's advantage in straight-line speed saw Verstappen stick right on the gearbox of Leclerc in the opening 10 laps, but he was unable to make a move, with the aggressive approach potentially harming the longevity of his tyres and altering the team's plans.

Verstappen was the first of the leading pack to pit at the end of lap 16, taking hard tyres, with Leclerc staying out and appearing to be on a one-stop strategy, but there was misery for the title hopeful just two laps later.

For the third time this season, Leclerc retired while leading a grand prix, smashing into the tyre wall. A safety car was deployed as Verstappen took the lead – with Ferrari's woes increasing as Carlos Sainz was issued a five-second penalty for an unsafe release after he pitted under the safety car.

Ferrari's instability continued to be evident towards the end of lap 41 when Sainz made an overtaking move on Perez to claim third place while his team called for him to pit, which then came at the end of the following lap – serving his penalty and coming out ninth.

Russell, having collided with Perez, was unhappy he was not given the third-place position back after the stewards decided no investigation was necessary, but the Mercedes man took advantage of a slow reaction from Perez after a virtual safety car restart to snatch the final podium spot.

Au revoir Paul Ricard

Though yet to be confirmed, it is widely expected that the French Grand Prix will be removed from the calendar next year, with the 2022 race bringing the end of Formula One's contract with the Circuit Paul Ricard.

F1 owners Liberty Media have made a clear push to grow the motorsport in the United States, with the introduction of Miami and Las Vegas, while there is a continued desire to add more modern street circuits to the schedule.

That has seen the likes of the Circuit Paul Ricard, Monza, Spa and even Monaco shrouded in speculation, though there may still be an avenue for each to feature moving forward with a rotation of venues.

Perfect plan falls apart

Ahead of this weekend, Leclerc was adamant he was still in the title battle, but he admitted the team would need a 'perfect' finish to the season – which came apart at the first hurdle with another retirement.

Now well adrift of Verstappen in the championship, Leclerc's title ambitions look to be dead in the water with 10 races remaining this season, and he took full responsibility for the incident in what was far from the weekend that Ferrari wanted.


1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +10.587
3. George Russell (Mercedes) +16.495
4. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +17.310
5. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +28.872
6. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) +42.879
7. Lando Norris (McLaren) +52.026
8. Esteban Ocon (Alpine) +56.959
9. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) +60.372
10. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) +62.549


1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 233
2. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 170
3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 163
4. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) 144
5. George Russell (Mercedes) 143


1. Red Bull 396
2. Ferrari 314
3. Mercedes 270
4. Alpine 93
5. McLaren 89

Charles Leclerc accepted all the blame for an "unacceptable" crash at the French Grand Prix as Ferrari suffered the misery of seeing the race leader blow a chance of victory.

The 24-year-old from Monaco sent his car into a wall of tyres of Turn 11 at Circuit Paul Ricard on lap 18, having started on pole position.

He had been chasing a fourth win of the season and was set to narrow the gap to championship leader Max Verstappen.

Yet Verstappen took advantage of Leclerc's blunder to win the race and tighten his grip on first place in the drivers' standings.

A regretful Leclerc said: "I think I'm performing at the highest level of my career, but if I keep doing those mistakes then it's pointless to perform at a very high level.

"I'm losing too many points: seven in Imola, 25 here, because honestly we were probably the strongest car on track today.

"If we lost the championship by 32 points at the end of the season I will know where they are coming from, and it's unacceptable."

He said he would go away and look again at what went wrong, but Leclerc had little doubt it was all on him.

"I'll try to understand if there's nothing I don't know yet, but to me, it's a mistake," he said.

"It's just trying to push too much, and then I lost the rear. It's been a very difficult weekend for me, I struggled a lot with the balance of the car.

"When it's warm like this, it's very difficult to be consistent, and I've been [finding it] very difficult to put laps together, and I did a mistake at the wrong moment."

Lewis Hamilton says Red Bull and Ferrari "are in a league of their own" as Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen prepare to battle it out once again at the French Grand Prix.

Leclerc came out on top at the Austrian Grand Prix two weeks ago and will start Sunday's race at Circuit Paul Ricard in pole position for the seventh time this season.

The Ferrari driver has momentum on his side, but he still trails Red Bull rival Verstappen by 38 points heading into the 12th race of 2022.

Verstappen's team-mate Sergio Perez finished third in qualifying after recovering from some flat practice showings, while Mercedes driver Hamilton was a distant fourth.

Seven-time world champion Hamilton is still seeking his first win of the campaign, but that seems unlikely to arrive in his 300th grand prix on the basis of Saturday's qualifying.

"It's not that it is disheartening, but you do a lap and you are told it is 1.7 seconds off and you are like 'what?'" Hamilton said.

"And then you do a really good lap and you are 1.1 seconds off and you are like 'wow'. There is nothing I can do in my power to change that.

"Everyone is working as hard as they can. Each weekend we come with little bits to try and improve, but sometimes that doesn't make a difference and that is difficult.

"The top two teams are in their own league. I came here this weekend hoping we would be within three tenths of them, and we are a second back. 

"If it is anything like this it is going to be a while before we win, but it's not impossible."


The driver starting on pole has won the past three French GPs – Hamilton in 2018 and 2019 and Verstappen last year – though not since 1960 has it happened four times in a row.

Leclerc's 16th career pole was achieved in large thanks to a tow from team-mate Carlos Sainz, who will start at the back of the grid after a fourth engine change of the season.

Sainz provided a tow down the straights to help Leclerc edge Verstappen, but the latter does not believe the same tactic would have worked for Red Bull.

"No, because Ferrari gained only two to two-and-a-half tenths with the slipstream, Charles told me," Verstappen said. "It was also very logical that they did it.

"Obviously both me and Sergio Perez want to be in the best position possible. That's why I don't think we're doing that sort of thing. Neither of us had a grid penalty, either.

"It also seems logical to me. We are both still fighting for the title, so it is difficult to explain. It is up to Ferrari if they want to do that, but within our team we haven't talked about it."

Should Verstappen and Perez earn at least 12 points on Sunday, Red Bull will join Ferrari (9,015) and Mercedes (6,535.50) as the third team ever to reach the 6,000 points mark.

Perez has placed in the top two in six of the past seven finished races, two times more than his previous 186, and the Mexican is delighted with his starting position.

"It's been a good recovery. I've been nowhere the whole weekend. To be honest, I've been struggling a lot," he said.

"I think it's probably been my worst weekend up to qualifying, really, and finally we managed to recover well. Now we will try to beat those red cars. They were very strong today."

Mercedes chief Toto Wolff has bemoaned the disappointing upgrade package introduced for the French Grand Prix, with a clear verdict that it is "not good enough".

A frustrating weekend so far for Mercedes has seen them struggle to find their best approach, despite optimism about an upgrade package that has been introduced for the 12th round of the 2022 season.

Both Hamilton and Russell looked to be in danger of elimination in Q2 but pushed through on their final laps, following the introduction of fresh tyres, though neither showed enough to be much of a threat to the front row and Wolff was disappointed by the showing.

"We knew that once we got the new tyres on and were driving in anger a little bit that we were going to be a third force, like we have been all season, but it's just not good enough," he told Sky Sports.

"You can see when you're a little bit on the back foot, your expectations are on a certain level for the race weekend and then it doesn't come together, the freestyling starts.

Charles Leclerc was full of praise for Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz after he provided a tow down the straights to help Leclerc edge Max Verstappen for pole position in the French Grand Prix.

Sainz, who starts at the back of the grid following a fourth engine change of the season, looked to be the quickest throughout qualifying before switching his approach in Q3 to help Leclerc finish ahead of his title rival.

It secures Leclerc's seventh pole of the season and the 16th of his career as he looks to rejuvenate his title bid following difficulties in recent races, and he was clear it would have been a harder task without Sainz.

"I struggled all weekend to put a lap together, but I managed to do it. I have to say, I also had the help of Carlos and that was amazing teamwork," he said on the grid.

"Without Carlos it would have been much more close so a huge thank you to Carlos and I hope that he can join us in the fight for the win tomorrow. 

"The car feels good but it's difficult to understand what the Red Bull guys have done yesterday, as there was loads of difference in terms of lap times, so let's see how it goes tomorrow."

Verstappen looked to be in fine form with the Red Bull ace showing great pace throughout the free practice sessions, but he couldn't quite put it together in qualifying and sits behind Leclerc at the start – the sixth time in 2022 the pair have been on the front row together.


"Overall, I think we were lacking a bit in qualifying, just with general grip. It was a bit more tricky than I would have hoped but we still have a decent race car," Verstappen said.

"Hopefully, tomorrow will come to our favour. We're quick on the straights, so hopefully we can use that tomorrow. It's going to be a bit warmer. Clearly, Ferrari have been very quick again."

Sergio Perez will start third, bouncing back after struggling to find pace in the practice sessions, and admitted it had been a difficult few days.

"It's been a good recovery over the whole weekend, I have been struggling a lot, I think it has been my worst weekend up to qualifying really but we managed to recover well," he said.

Perez sits ahead of Lewis Hamilton, who will start fourth, which means Mercedes' wait for a top-three start on the grid continues, with it already being their longest stint into a F1 season without one.


1. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 1:30:872
2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +0.304
3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +0.463
4. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +0.893
5. Lando Norris (McLaren) +1.160
6. George Russell (Mercedes) +1.259
7. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) +1.680
8. Yuki Tsunoda (Alpha Tauri) +1.908
9. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) No Time
10. Kevin Magnusson (Haas) No Time

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz has been penalised for excessive engine usage, meaning he will start the French Grand Prix from the back of the grid.

Sainz sits in fourth place in the drivers' championship, and finished the final practice in second place. 

However, he will now start Sunday's race from the back after Ferrari took their fourth new engine of the season, one more than is permitted.

This penalty has been added on to the 10-place sanction that he had been given for the new electronics control unit that Ferrari opted for on Friday.

He will be joined at the back of the grid by Kevin Magnussen of Haas, who was penalised for changing power unit components.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen was fastest in the final practice, with the reigning champion clear of Sainz's Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc, who finished third quickest.

Lando Norris believes McLaren's porpoising ahead of the French Grand Prix is a positive, stating it shows the team are heading in the right direction.

McLaren have been unable to keep pace with the likes of Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes so far this season, sitting joint-fourth in the Constructor's Championship alongside Alpine with 81 points.

Meanwhile, Norris sits seventh in the Drivers' Championship after a difficult campaign that has seen just one podium finish, coming at Imola in April, and has finished outside the top five in every race since.

McLaren have introduced a new aero package for the French Grand Prix and, while it has resulted in porpoising, Norris believes that is a sign that things are on the right track.

"It felt like I had a decent amount. The last few races we've had quite a bit at times, Silverstone we had a lot as well, so I'm not surprised. Not a shock," he said.

"Yeah, I'm hoping it's kind of a good thing that, if we can improve the car, sometimes that promotes porpoising.

"Apart from Red Bull, it seems like it's what Ferrari and Mercedes have had a lot of, and they are obviously a lot quicker than us.

"But I think, as we're trying to improve the car, sometimes we expose this phenomenon and yeah, it's maybe not a bad thing. Sometimes it means you're heading in the right direction."

Norris was sixth-fastest in FP2 on Friday, ahead of team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, with both running the new aero package for the second session after the Australian also ran it in FP1 – and Norris admitted the car felt 'different' to drive.

"Just different, I wouldn't say trickier. It's just the feeling you get behind the wheel, you're so sensitive, you get so used to things," he explained.

"As soon as something feels just a little bit off, you have to figure out why that's happening and what it's doing, what the reasoning is for it, and then how to overcome it and maximise it again.

"So I guess I'm playing a little bit of catch-up and just trying to understand all of that, comparing to Daniel, but at the same time, it's been good we've been able to compare data easily today, because we chose that strategy of me not having it, him having it."

Lewis Hamilton is confident he will be in the mix for a first win of the season at Sunday's French Grand Prix, claiming Mercedes' struggles will make their next victory all the more satisfying.

Seven-time world champion Hamilton sits sixth in the 2022 drivers' standings, having failed to post a race win since losing the 2021 title to Max Verstappen in contentious circumstances.

The Mercedes star has been in improved form of late, however, recording three successive podiums after a run of seven outings without a top-three finish.

Having been badly affected by issues with the Silver Arrows' W13 car earlier this season, the 37-year-old is hopeful of a landmark success at Le Castellet on Sunday, in what will be his 300th Formula One race.

Asked if he had a realistic chance of victory in France, Hamilton said: "I hope so, that's what we're all working towards.

"I'm working towards getting that win so I do believe at some stage we will be able to compete with these guys, whether it's this weekend or in five races' time. The journey is the important part.

"I think we started off not where we wanted to be. We've made progress, and we've started to hit a patch of consistency. I'm really proud of the process. We've sharpened our tools in other areas, so when we do get back to where we deserve to be, I think we'll appreciate it that much more."

Hamilton has named Fernando Alonso as the toughest opponent of his career to date, as he professed his hope the 40-year-old, who has put together a run of six successive top-10 finishes with Alpine, will continue in Formula One for years to come.

"I think it's difficult to say who has necessarily been the strongest competitor because every time you're with someone, you're in a different place in your life," Hamilton said.

"I remember the task of being alongside Fernando when I was 22. I was so young mentally and, of course, OK in terms of skill, but it's a lot of pressure to go up against a great like Fernando.

"I would say on pure pace, Fernando [is the toughest]. We had some good battles.

"I wish we could have more. Hopefully he will continue to race, so hopefully we'll have more in the future."

Ferrari and Charles Leclerc have history on their side as they aim to continue their recent run of form and eat into Red Bull and Max Verstappen's leads at the top of Formula One championships at the French Grand Prix.

The Scuderia have won the last two races, Carlos Sainz claiming a maiden F1 win at Silverstone before Leclerc ended a seven-race drought with victory in Austria.

Despite those successes, Red Bull still hold a 56-point lead in the constructors' championship, while Verstappen is 38 points ahead of Leclerc.

Verstappen's lead would be less emphatic had Sainz not suffered an engine failure in the closing stages at the Red Bull Ring last time out, denying Ferrari a well-deserved one-two.

The spectre of reliability concerns looms for Ferrari heading into the race at Circuit Paul Ricard, which will host the 12th grand prix of a season in which they have had six DNFs.

Yet Ferrari have enjoyed a lot of success in France. They have the most poles and wins at the French Grand Prix (both 17), though only two of those triumphs have come at Le Castellet.

Red Bull had claimed six straight wins prior to the recent Ferrari riposte and will have their sights set on strengthening their grip on both championships with a repeat of last year's double podium, when Verstappen prevailed and Sergio Perez finished third.

With Paul Ricard a circuit defined in part by long straights, Red Bull should again be strong in France, but it is also a circuit that should suit a Mercedes team on a run of four consecutive podiums.

Mercedes have rarely been close to Red Bull or Ferrari in a disappointing season. However, with its smooth surface and high-speed corners, Paul Ricard could allow the Silver Arrows a repeat of their performance at Silverstone, when Lewis Hamilton appeared set to challenge for victory until a safety car left him to settle for third.

Should he upset the odds to prevail in the south of France, Hamilton will add more history to his glittering CV.


Mercedes' dominance has come to an abrupt end in 2022 and they are in the rare position of still not having a win after 11 grands prix.

Paul Ricard likely represents one of their best chances to end their wait. If it is Hamilton who triumphs, he would move on to 99 career points at the French Grand Prix, surpassing the record of 98 set by Michael Schumacher.

More significantly, Hamilton would also break Schumacher's record for the most consecutive seasons with at least one race win. Victory for Hamilton would make it 16 seasons in a row for the Briton, Schumacher produced a grand prix success in 15 successive seasons between 1992 and 2006.


Alpine's Esteban Ocon is enjoying an excellent season. He has 52 points to his name at the halfway point, having collected 74 across 22 races last season.

One place he has yet to taste success is at his home race. A first-lap collision with compatriot Pierre Gasly ended his hopes when the French Grand Prix returned in 2018. Last season, he finished a disappointing 14th.

Should he get himself in the top 10 this time around, he would become the first French driver to earn points in the French Grand Prix with a French team (Alpine) and a French engine (Renault) since Erik Comas in 1992 for Ligier team (Renault engine – two points finishing fifth).

With the race reportedly under threat for 2023, this could be Ocon's last chance for some time to score home points.

Francesco Bagnaia secured another lap record and so another pole position at the French Grand Prix on Saturday, this time leading a Ducati one-two ahead of Jack Miller.

Bagnaia had ended defending MotoGP champion Fabio Quartararo's sequence of four consecutive poles last time out at the Grand Prix of Spain, setting a Jerez record.

The Italian protected that position to win for the first time this season and will hope to repeat the feat at Le Mans, where he was again dominant in qualifying.

Bagnaia's time of 1:30.450 edged out Miller by 0.069 seconds, with Quartararo – looking to become the first home winner in France since 1954 – forced to settle for fourth.

But the Monster Energy Yamaha rider, who again leads the standings, recognises Bagnaia and Ducati are doing something special in qualifying.

Indeed, Bagnaia has a leading eight poles since the start of last season.

"I was disappointed, but two minutes later I was happy," Quartararo said. "On the qualifying, we miss something – all the time, not only in qualifying. 

"Ducati is able to really do something crazy – and the riders, I would not say only Ducati.  

"But we are all the same in the race pace, so it's difficult to really make the difference."

Even so, Bagnaia believes Quartararo will be the man to beat, although he added: "I think after the modification I did in qualifying, I am more close now.

"But it's difficult to say now. The forecast says tomorrow it will rain. I hope it will not be like this, but it looks like it could be."


1. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) 1:30.450
2. Jack Miller (Ducati) +0.069s
3. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) +0.159s
4. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) +0.238s
5. Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing) +0.261s
6. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) +0.413s
7. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) +0.493s
8. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) +0.527s
9. Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) +0.618s
10. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) +0.698s

A delighted Max Verstappen reflected on his "very rewarding" win at the French Grand Prix in which Red Bull's risky strategy delivered in dramatic fashion.

Championship leader Verstappen had pole position but swiftly slipped behind Lewis Hamilton when he lost his rear at Turn 2 on the opening lap.

From there, though, Red Bull provided a hugely effective rescue package, first by executing an undercut that allowed Verstappen to edge back in front despite a solid Hamilton pit stop.

The Dutchman's battling qualities came to the fore as he held off both Hamilton and Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas, before Red Bull opted to take a gamble.

Verstappen went in for a second stop and faced a sizeable deficit on fresh medium tyres, albeit with time on his side.

The 23-year-old had to stay patient, but Bottas put up little fight and Hamilton was then passed on the penultimate lap to open up a 12-point gap at the top of the drivers' standings.

"Thank you so much, so good," Verstappen told his team, and he was then asked on the podium if he had enjoyed a gripping race.

"Towards the end, yes," he replied.


"In the beginning, it was super difficult out there with the wind, so one lap you had an okay balance and then the next lap you were just sliding everywhere. It was really difficult to keep the car stable.

"Once we made the first pit stop, you could clearly see on the hard tyres they were pushing me hard from behind. 

"But when we made the call to do a two-stopper, luckily in the end that paid off. We had to work hard for it, but of course it's very rewarding."

On his attempts to reel in Hamilton, Verstappen added: "It was difficult, because there was quite a lot of backmarkers to go through, but luckily they all did well so we could have a good fight to the end."

And talk predictably then turned to the title picture, with seven-time champion Hamilton finally facing a fight again.

"You could see the whole race we were fighting each other, so I think it will be like this for the rest of the season," Verstappen said.

Hamilton added: "We've got to find some pace, that's for sure.

"You could see most of the time we lost today was on the straights, so we've got to definitely dig deep, try to figure out what that is – whether it's power or drag – but we've still got a good package."

Page 1 of 2
© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.