F1 2021
Round 7

Max secures the 82nd pole position for a Honda-powered car in Formula 1

fr Circuit Paul Ricard

Max secured the 82nd pole position for a Honda-powered car in Formula 1 with an excellent performance in qualifying for the French Grand Prix, with three of the four Honda runners in the top ten.

Max secures the 82nd pole position for a Honda-powered car in Formula 1

The session got off to a disappointing start when Yuki spun on his first timed lap, losing the rear at Turn 1 and sliding backwards into the barrier. Any contact was light and Yuki tried to return to the pits but could not get the car to select first gear and had to abandon his attempts to get back to the garage, ending his session early and leaving him starting from a provisional 20th place.


Whether there are any grid penalties for other drivers remains to be seen, as Mick Schumacher than crashed at the end of Q1 to bring out the red flags for a second time, at the same point securing himself 15th on the grid that could change if certain components need replacing.

Fortunately the second part of qualifying was much calmer as there were no interruptions and the three remaining Honda-powered cars all progressed with ease, as Sergio was third and Max fourth, while Pierre joined them in the top six. All three also set their best times on medium compound tyres - like the rest of the top ten - and so will start the race on that compound tomorrow.


Everyone then switched to soft tyres for Q3 and Max put himself on provisional pole position by nearly 0.4s from Lewis Hamilton, and maintained a similar gap as he improved on his final attempt to ensure the championship leader will start from pole on Sunday. Sergio was competitive throughout and ended up fourth, with Pierre directly behind him on the grid in sixth place.

Max’s result is the fifth pole for Red Bull Racing in partnership with Honda, and his second of the season, while sixth is Scuderia AlphaTauri’s best performance in qualifying at the French Grand Prix.

Toyoharu Tanabe
Toyoharu Tanabe
Honda Racing F1
With Max taking his and the team’s second pole of the year, after the one at the season-opener in Bahrain and having three Honda powered cars in the top six, the result of today’s qualifying for the French Grand Prix was very good for us. Max had already been quickest in FP2 and 3 and made no mistakes in qualifying, and to be 0.258 seconds ahead of the second placed driver is an exceptional performance. Sergio secured fourth place with a time that is very close to that of the third placed driver. Having both Red Bull Racing Honda’s sharing the front two rows with the two Mercedes is also important in terms of tomorrow’s race strategy. In his home Grand Prix, for Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda, Pierre made progress through all the sessions and he is also in a strong position, sixth behind Perez. He has done an excellent job recently, this being the third consecutive time he has qualified in the top six. He has shown consistent race pace all season and so we can expect him to move up the order tomorrow. Yuki had a disappointing qualifying, crashing out right at the start of Q1. But in free practice, he has been quick, he knows this track and so he can have a solid race and most importantly for him, finish the race. Overall, it is very satisfying to take pole now that we are back at a permanent race track and just as we go into a series of three races on consecutive weekend. But tomorrow is what matters and anything can happen, so we will be simulating various scenarios tonight.

Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen 33
Red Bull Racing
To be able to put it on pole here, on a track that has not been our favourite in terms of performance, is very promising and a big boost for the Team. We really did not expect it so I am of course very happy. Everything has been working really well all weekend and from today even compared to yesterday we made a good improvement through hard work and maximising set-up. I was confident after FP3 but you never really know where you are or what everyone else will bring in Qualifying, so we should be very happy with this performance so far. There is a long run to Turn 1 so we have to get a good start tomorrow and for sure they will be very close but our long run pace in FP2 looked good so I expect another tight battle.

Sergio Perez
Sergio Perez 11
Red Bull Racing
It wasn’t an ideal qualifying as I think locking out the front row was possible but unfortunately I made a mistake on my final Q3 run which cost me quite a bit of lap time. We were going in the right direction and I was feeling comfortable with the car but I just ran wide over the kerbs at Turn 12 and the lap was gone. But tomorrow is when it matters and we have better race pace than in qualifying so we should really be in the mix. It will be very close with  Mercedes so I will be applying the pressure from the very first lap. My starts have been good so the plan is to get a couple of positions off the line and manage the race from there to try and bring home a 1-2 for the Team. I think the race will come down to tyre management so hopefully we can outperform them in that area but either way it’s going to be very entertaining for the fans and now I’m just looking forward to tomorrow!

Pierre Gasly
Pierre Gasly 10
Scuderia AlphaTauri
It’s a very good day and I’m really pleased to Qualify in sixth position. It’s been quite a difficult weekend up to this point, I haven’t felt that comfortable in the car and we’ve struggled a bit with the changing conditions. We’d made lots of set-up changes to the car across the weekend and it all came together for Qualifying. After the disappointment of finding out my lap was cancelled, I knew I had just one shot to get it right in Q3. My adrenalin levels were high, and I managed to put an even better lap together, so I’m very happy with that. Tomorrow will be interesting for us as we return to a normal race circuit, we’re starting on the same tyres as everyone else, so strategy will be key. We’ll give everything we have and hopefully we can get some good points here, in front of my home crowd.

Yuki Tsunoda
Yuki Tsunoda 22
Scuderia AlphaTauri
It was my mistake today in Qualifying and I want to apologise to the team. I just used too much of the yellow curb at turn one and I spun out. I tried to brake as much as possible to avoid contact with the barrier, but it was like skating on ice as I was going backwards. It was fairly low impact, but there is some damage to the car so the team will have to work hard tonight to get me ready for tomorrow. The best way to thank the team would be to have a good race tomorrow. It’s difficult to overtake here but I’ll push as hard as I can every lap and use every opportunity I get.

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