Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN will have a good chance of points in tomorrow's French Grand Prix after a fairly positive qualifying session, with Antonio Giovinazzi showing the pace of the team's C41 car by qualifying in 13th position. Team-mate Kimi Raikkonen was on course for a good result, but an unfortunately timed red flag meant he had to abort his best lap and will have to line up 17th on the starting grid.
A cooler, cloudier day meant temperatures weren't soaring as on Friday, but the Circuit Paul Ricard remained a tricky place to do business. Two red flags in Q1 made for a stop-start session in which setting a lap was a challenge. Unfortunately, that claimed Kimi, who had to give up his fastest attempt as the session was brought to an early end: the result will see him line up on the ninth row of the grid tomorrow.
The remaining Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN of Antonio had managed to set a time good enough for Q2 and, in the second segment of qualifying, the Italian delivered a good attempt to set the 13th time, just 0.2s shy of a place in the top ten.
Starting in that position, Antonio will be able to choose his own starting tyres for the race - something that proved an advantage the last time we raced here, in 2019. Such a bonus could be crucial as we aim to nail the right strategy for tomorrow's race - unless it rains, of course...
Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal: "The team did a good job today and we are confident we would have been on course to have a good result with both cars, hadn't it been for the second red flag. As things went, we have to be really happy with the position Antonio achieved: he will be able to start on the best possible tyres and we'll have all strategy options open to us. Kimi's race will be a bit more difficult, starting from the back, but with a good start and a good strategy we can hope to make up some places. Our race pace looked good in practice so we're still in with a chance."
Kimi Raikkonen: "Recently, the red flags seem to destroy my laps all the time. I was on a good one, the time was going to be ok, but when the red flag came out it was game over. In the end, that's what it is and there's nothing I can do about it. P17 on the grid is not ideal, but tomorrow is another day: our race pace was ok yesterday so we will try to get a result out of a disappointing Saturday."
Antonio Giovinazzi: "We can be happy about today's result: our target was P11, to be close to the top ten but not quite in it, as we knew the soft tyres would not be a good compound for the race. We nearly hit this target and we were very close to the cars ahead of us: tomorrow there's everything to play for. Choosing our starting tyre will allow us to maximise our strategy: if we have a good start and a clean first lap, we can make up some places and make our way into the points. Our race pace wasn't bad so we can be confident."
Check out our Saturday gallery from Paul Ricard, here.