A bucolic and hot summer Saturday near the Côte d’Azur could have been the best place for Carlos Sainz take his Ferrari to the heights of a front row grid, or even his second pole position of the year. Of course, the pace has been in that consideration in free practice. However, qualifying for the French Grand Prix will be nothing more than a mere formality for the Spanish driver, so lashed by engine penalties that he will have to start on the back row in the race no matter what position I end up in today.
Something that is not always of great pleasure in Paul Ricard, a route that is not exactly known for the strong emotions it arouses. All this places the focus primarily and almost exclusively on a Max Verstappen that he has been one step above the rest at all times these two days, and that he does not seem to have an opponent for pole position. Not even charles leclerc he would be in a position to dispute it, at least not until the considerable handling problems the Monegasque has been experiencing are resolved.
Sergio Perez neither has been excessively comfortable at the wheel of Red Bull, and all that could play in favor of Mercedes, whose pace has not been as close to the leading zone as in some of the most recent GPs. Further back, the middle zone has been very arrhythmic so far, with few constants beyond the presence of the McLarens and the good feelings of Alpine with a Fernando Alonso who got the seventh fastest time in the last practice session, so a place on the third row seems very much within his reach with the new improvements in his car.
In addition to Sainz, another driver who has been hit by the penalties for changing components is Kevin Magnussen. Except for a major surprise, it will be the Dane who will come out last after Sainz, having carried out the same engine, turbo and MGU-H and MGU-K generator replacements. A more than complete set-up to face the long straights of the track located in the vicinity of Le Castellet, in which overtaking is possible if the drag of the vehicle is minimized. A titanic task in which not everyone passes, and which can make Sunday for more than one team very hard if the homework is not done today.