Haas F1 Team drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean earned strong starting positions for Sunday's French Grand Prix by advancing to the final round of knockout qualifying Saturday at Circuit Paul Ricard in Le Castellet. The duo qualified ninth and 10th, respectively, as the American squad placed both its drivers into Q3 for the third time this season and the fourth time in team history.
The result came with a bit of a rub, however, as Grosjean spun on his flying lap in Q3, nosing into the barrier in turn four and effectively ending his session with no official time. The resulting red-flag period also impacted Magnussen, who had to abort his flying lap. Magnussen made another go at a quick time in the waning minutes of Q3 to secure the ninth-best mark with a lap of 1:32.930.
Grosjean set the seventh-fastest time in Q1 with a lap of 1:32.083 around the 5.842-kilometer (3.63-mile), 15-turn track. Magnussen was right behind his teammate in eighth with a lap of 1:32.169. Only the top-15 drivers move on to Q2.
Both drivers picked up in Q2, with Grosjean earning the sixth-fastest time with a lap of 1:31.472 while Magnussen was seventh with a lap of 1:31.510, easily allowing each driver to make the top-10 cutoff and advance to Q3.
Both Grosjean and Magnussen ran exclusively on the Pirelli P Zero Purple ultrasoft tire throughout qualifying.
Before Grosjean, Magnussen and the rest of their Formula One counterparts participated in knockout qualifying, they had one final practice (FP3) to dial in their racecars for a quick lap around the track. Unfortunately, rain inundated the circuit after both drivers completed their installation laps, scuttling any more on-track running for the Haas F1 Team pilots. Some drivers did, however, venture onto the wet track, with Bottas setting quick time with a 1:33.666, which was 1.287 seconds better than the next fastest driver, Renault's Carlos Sainz Jr.
Romain Grosjean: "I went into turn three and lost the rear end. There's no obvious reason, so we'll investigate to understand a bit more. We'll look at the data. I was pretty much doing as I was before, so it's a bit strange. It's frustrating. We haven't had much luck since Australia. I was hoping this weekend would run smoothly, and that was the case. It's not what we wanted, but there's the race tomorrow, and we're going to do our best to come back and get seventh, where we should have qualified."
Kevin Magnussen: "It was looking good. We got both cars into Q3, but then we didn't get anything out of the session. It was a good performance up until Q3. I didn't get a lap in Q3, I had Kimi (Räikkönen) overtake me on my fastest lap, then he let me by again. I had no idea what he was doing. It meant I didn't do a lap in Q3."
Guenther Steiner: "What a day... again. We ended up with both cars in the top-10, but in Q3, for one reason or another, we only managed to qualify ninth and 10th. All in all, it's not a bad result, but we should be seventh and eighth. I think the car is at that level, so tomorrow we have to make up spots at the start."
Check out our Saturday gallery from Paul Ricard, here.