Schumacher faces anxious wait to see if he’ll be hit with a grid penalty after crash ends Q1 early
Mick Schumacher was looking set for his best grid slot of the year at the French Grand Prix as he was running inside the top 15 in the early part of Q1 – and the German then confirmed his first ever progression to Q2 when he crashed in the final moments of the session.
The Haas driver lost the back end through Turn 6 at Paul Ricard and hit the barriers on the exit of the corner, damaging his car in the process. It triggered a red flag which ended the session, given there was so little time left on the clock.
Ironically it meant he confirmed his own progression to Q2 – ensuring he will have the best grid slot of his short F1 career so far for Sunday's race – but he was unable to take part in second session given the damage to his car.
It was also bad news for Lance Stroll in particular, as the Aston Martin driver had yet to set a time, having had an earlier lap deleted for exceeding track limits at Turn 6.
So Stroll was knocked out, along with Nicholas Latifi, Kimi Raikkonen, Nikita Mazepin and Yuki Tsunoda, who was already out, having spun in the early moments of qualifying.
And after the session Schumacher revealed he has yet to discover if his car was sufficiently damaged for him to incur a grid penalty for Sunday's race. Should he need to change the gearbox, for example, he could be dropped back from his P15 slot.
"I just pushed a bit to hard going into the corner, that kicked out the rear," he said. "Nonetheless we managed to go into our first Q2 this year so things brighten up, and I think we can hopefully get more of those days in the future.
"There is damage to the car. How great I don’t know. If the gearbox is damaged then obviously we have a problem, but if everything’s ok we’ll start from there, and obviously it is on paper [getting through to Q2] so that’s what matters.
"In the race I have 50-something laps to catch up if I [do] have a problem, so I’m optimistic and as I said, we see the light at the end of the tunnel and the team’s getting more motivated every day. I am more motivated every day and those results here prove that our hard work is growing."
Haas boss Guenther Steiner though was hopeful Schumacher's car would be ok. "We’re still investigating the gearbox and if we need to change it or not," he said. "At the moment it seems we don’t, so let’s hope it stays like this as this would be the first time this year that we’ve got into Q2. Let’s hope we can start from where we are now."