French GP: Bridgestone Saturday qualifying notes

Ferrari's Felipe Massa scored his fourth pole position of the season by maximising the performance of Bridgestone's soft compound Potenza at a tricky Magny Cours circuit this afternoon. Both the soft and medium compound Bridgestone Potenzas ...

Ferrari's Felipe Massa scored his fourth pole position of the season by maximising the performance of Bridgestone's soft compound Potenza at a tricky Magny Cours circuit this afternoon.

Both the soft and medium compound Bridgestone Potenzas offered strong performance at the venue for tomorrow's Grand Prix de France with the soft offering a faster lap time but the medium a more consistent lap time meaning better suitability for the longer runs of tomorrow's 70 lap race.

Track temperatures were hotter than yesterday and the lap times continued to fall with Lewis Hamilton setting the day's fastest lap, his 1min 14.795secs half a second faster than yesterday's 2006 pole beating time.

Hamilton was fastest in all but the final qualifying session and will start on the front row alongside Massa, meaning an interesting first turn of the race is likely. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) will start from third with Robert Kubica (BMW Sauber) showing no slowing of his pace from his Montreal accident by qualifying in fourth place.

Fernando Alonso (McLaren Mercedes) will start from tenth place after a technical problem in qualifying. This leaves the reigning world champion with a long evening ahead to work with his engineers to maximise the opportunities presented by both Potenza compounds and pit stop strategy to work his way through the field tomorrow.

Kees van de Grint, Bridgestone Motorsport Head of Track Engineering Operations:

"Today the excitement was in the battle for pole and all drivers qualifying times were set on the soft compound Bridgestone Potenza. Tyre performance was similar to Friday with the medium offering excellent consistency and the soft offering a higher grip and faster initial lap time."

"The choice for tyre strategy for the front runners should not be too difficult, but for drivers who have not qualified near their usual position different strategies could come into play. If the weather forecast of wet weather become reality strategy will become very interesting, especially as we have no data of this new surface in the wet."

Stats of the Day
Total amount of laps completed by all drivers: 689 laps
Average number of laps per car: 31 laps
Most laps by a driver: 44 laps - Heikki Kovalainen
Fastest lap: 1m 14.795s - Hamilton in Q2
Compounds: Medium and soft

-credit: bridgestone

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Kimi Raikkonen , Fernando Alonso , Lewis Hamilton , Felipe Massa , Heikki Kovalainen
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , Sauber , McLaren