Renault Sport Formula One Team qualified in the top ten for the first French Grand Prix in ten years with Carlos Sainz powering through an interrupted Q3 session to set the seventh fastest time.

Track action had earlier started with rain rendering most of FP3 a wash-out, and Nico Hülkenberg was subsequently unable to extract the requisite balance and harmony from his car, meaning he missed out on qualifying in the top ten by a mere tenth of a second, after setting the twelfth fastest time in Q2.

Nico Hülkenberg, #27, R.S.18-02, Q: P12 1:32.115 FP3: P19 No Time Set
“It’s a disappointing position, but I was pretty happy with my lap, I lost a tenth in turn nine with some oversteer, which you have sometimes when you’re on the limits. It’s been nip and tuck all weekend and slightly tricky. I haven’t found the love or harmony I usually have with the car, so it’s been a little difficult. In a tight midfield battle, you particularly need that confidence and if you don’t have it, it’s enough to miss out on Q3, like today. We’re starting twelfth tomorrow so we can do something with the strategy as we have some flexibility. There’s a lot of love and support from the home crowd so we’ll give it our best shot and recover as much as we can. I’m confident we can get points.”

Carlos Sainz, #55, R.S.18-03, Q: P7 1:32.126 FP3: P2 1:34.953
“I’m very happy with today’s result! It’s a very positive qualifying performance. We didn’t expect to be the best of the rest but we managed to do a great job and grab the chance. We look forward to the race where we’ll aim for a clean start and try and have a bright outing. We’ll see about the weather first. Mixed or wet conditions always makes it more interesting and I always enjoy it. Hopefully we can get a strong result in front of the team’s home crowd.”

Alan Permane, Sporting Director:
It’s a very different challenge from what we knew before…

How was qualifying for the team?
It was a good effort from Carlos to qualify seventh to start the race in a strong position tomorrow. Nico hasn’t had the weekend he normally has and he’s been playing catch-up on set-up throughout. Obviously, there was an interrupted Q3 session, but Carlos delivered exactly what we needed from him so we’re happy with that.

What have been the challenges of Paul Ricard so far?
It’s always good to come to a new circuit, it’s one we know from the past but with the 2018 car it’s a very different challenge. It’s fun, a nice circuit to drive and the drivers enjoy it. There is a lot of grip and some very challenging corners. For the race we are expecting it to be warm and sunny and this should allow for a straightforward race for Carlos. With Nico we have some options starting from twelfth and we will be looking closely overnight at what advantages we can gain from strategy variations.