Verstappen records Pirelli’s 250th pole, Gasly records his team’s first Q3 appearance at Circuit Paul Ricard and Stroll fails to set a qualifying time for the second race in a row. Here are the facts and statistics from qualifying at the 2021 French Grand Prix.
VERSTAPPEN ON POLE
Max Verstappen secured the fifth pole position of his career with pole at the 2021 French Grand Prix. It was his first pole position since the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.
While Verstappen becomes the twelfth different driver to take pole position at Circuit Paul Ricard, Red Bull become the ninth different team to take pole here. This was the fifth pole position for a Honda-powered car at Circuit Paul Ricard; the first since Alain Prost took pole for McLaren at the 1989 French Grand Prix.
The 2021 French Grand Prix marks the 250th pole position for Pirelli tyres in Formula 1. They are the second tyre manufacturer to reach the milestone, after Goodyear. Nigel Mansell recorded Goodyear’s 250th pole position at the 1991 German Grand Prix.
THE TOP 10
Valtteri Bottas became the first Mercedes driver to fail to qualify on the front row since the French Grand Prix’s return to the calendar. This was his fourth third place qualifying result of the 2021 season; his third in the last four races.
Qualifying in fourth, Sergio Perez became the first driver to qualify for 200 races without taking pole position. This was the first time that Perez has reached Q3 at the French Grand Prix. His previous best qualifying result at Circuit Paul Ricard was thirteenth in 2018.
A Red Bull driver has qualified in fourth place in each French Grand Prix since Circuit Paul Ricard returned to the F1 calendar.
With fifth place, Carlos Sainz qualified in the top five for a third consecutive race. This is the second time he has out-qualified Charles Leclerc during their time as Ferrari team-mates. He also out-qualified Leclerc at the Portuguese Grand Prix. This was the first time that Leclerc has been out-qualified by a team-mate at the French Grand Prix.
Pierre Gasly recorded the Red Bull junior team’s first Q3 appearance at Circuit Paul Ricard, qualifying in sixth place.
With ninth place, Fernando Alonso equalled his best qualifying result of the 2021 season. He also qualified ninth at the Bahrain Grand Prix and the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. This was Alonso’s first Q3 appearance at Circuit Paul Ricard.
OUT IN Q2
On his second home Grand Prix appearance, Esteban Ocon qualified in eleventh place. He also qualified eleventh on his first home race appearance in 2018.
Sebastian Vettel qualified in twelfth place. With him out in Q2 and Lance Stroll failing to set a time in Q1, Team Silverstone are still yet to reach Q3 at Circuit Paul Ricard. This was the first time Vettel has qualified outside of the top seven at Circuit Paul Ricard.
Antonio Giovinazzi qualified in thirteenth place. With Kimi Raikkonen out in Q1, that made the 2021 French Grand Prix the first in which Alfa Romeo/Sauber failed to reach Q3 with either car since the event’s return to the calendar.
With fourteenth place in qualifying, George Russell recorded Williams’ best qualifying result at Circuit Paul Ricard since the 1990 French Grand Prix when both drivers qualified in the top ten.
Mick Schumacher crashed out at the end of Q1, bringing an early end to the session. Ironically, that secured the German his first Q2 appearance; though he couldn’t take part in the session due to his crash. It was the first time a Haas driver progressed to Q2 since the 2020 Eifel Grand Prix.
OUT IN Q1
In 2018 and 2019, both Williams drivers qualified on the back row of the grid at the French Grand Prix. That was not the case in 2021 though, as George Russell progressed to Q2, while Nicholas Latifi qualified in sixteenth place.
Kimi Raikkonen qualified in seventeenth place, recording his team’s first Q1 exit at Circuit Paul Ricard. Their previous worst qualifying result here was fifteenth for Marcus Ericsson in 2018.
Seventeenth place is Raikkonen’s worst qualifying result of the season to date.
Qualifying in eighteenth place, Nikita Mazepin equalled the best qualifying result of his F1 career to date. He also qualified eighteenth in Azerbaijan. Both times that has been thanks to other drivers not setting lap times.
After his earlier lap time was deleted, Lance Stroll was unable to set a time in Q1 due to Mick Schumacher’s crash. It meant that Stroll was eliminated in Q1 for a third consecutive French Grand Prix appearance.
This was the second race in a row at which Stroll has qualified in nineteenth place without setting a lap time.
Yuki Tsunoda caused the first of two red flags in Q1 after crashing out. He qualified in last place for the second time in his career, having also crashed out in Q1 at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. The Red Bull junior team has had one car eliminated in Q1 at every French Grand Prix since 2018.
After graduating in 2015 with a First Class honours degree in English Language and Literature, Nicky Haldenby, a lifelong fan of Formula 1, founded the Lights Out F1 Blog in 2016. The blog has become a firm fan-favourite, delving deep into the sport’s history books and lifting the cover on unusual F1 statistics.
Nicky also writes at F1Destinations and Motorsport Guides and can be heard as the resident stats man on the 2 Soft Compounds Podcast. His work has appeared on WTF1, BadgerGP, motorsport.com, Sky Sports F1 and BBC Radio 5 Live. Nicky is also the host of the F1 Rewind Podcast.