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F1: Ferrari finally get their act together as teamwork helps secure pole

Scuderia Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc has been the master of Saturday qualifying so far this season, and he proved that once more with a sizzling hot lap to secure pole position at the French Grand Prix this weekend. With the Red Bulls showing a very strong pace as expected, the Italian team did a fine job of asking Carlos Sainz to give Leclerc a tow to make sure that their rivals could not snatch away the top spot.

The Paul Ricard Circuit was scorching hot on Saturday, as Europe endures a lengthy heatwave. Things got even hotter on the track, as the second half of the 2022 F1 season officially began. Leclerc had been impressive during qualifying for much of the campaign, and this time he beat out championship leader Max Verstappen by 0.304 seconds.

This is Leclerc’s seventh pole of the season, but he has been having a hard time converting his Saturday results to Sunday victories. The Red Bulls have proven to be very fast over a race distance, with the Austrian team also being on point with most of their race strategies. On the contrary, Ferrari had bungled their strategies on at least two clear instances, causing Leclerc to fall back the order to miss out on potential victories. That is also on top of their reliability issues.

In France, Ferrari are off to a good start despite the fact that Sainz will be starting from the back due to penalties for new engine parts. He made the most out of the session by giving Leclerc a tow in the final flying lap that allowed him to get a buffer ahead of the Red Bulls.

Sainz will be disappointed to be starting from the opposite end of the grid, but he will surely be on a different strategy from his teammate. It remains to be seen if the Ferrari pit wall will continue to make the best decisions on Sunday.

Leclerc will have a big challenge at the front without his teammate to help him, and with both Red Bulls of Verstappen and Sergio Perez behind him. It will be a tense start, and Verstappen has proven in the past that he knows how to beat Leclerc off the line.

The two drivers are the clear championship contenders, but Perez won’t just be a spectator when the red lights go off. He will be making a charge for the lead as well, and the hungry Mercedes cars just behind him will also make things interesting.

Lewis Hamilton and George Russell are sitting in P4 and P5 respectively, and they will surely be hoping that the upgrades on their cars will help them challenge for the win this weekend.

Verstappen is still enjoying a 38 point lead ahead of Leclerc, but things can easily change with one retirement. Racing has been clean between the two so far this season, and both sides are hoping it stays that way despite the growing intensity of the title battle.

Carlos Sainz, left, and Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc
Brendan Smialowski/AFP
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