LE CASTELLET, France (AP) — Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz Jr. will start Sunday’s French Grand Prix from the back of the grid after multiple engine-part changes on Saturday.
The Spaniard’s engine caught fire near the end of the last race in Austria two weeks ago. He was handed a 10-place grid penalty Friday because Ferrari changed the power unit, and extra engine changes Saturday sent him to the last row with Kevin Magnussen, whose Haas team made similar engine changes.
World champion Max Verstappen comfortably led Saturday’s third practice session for Red Bull from Sainz and his Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc, with seven-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton fourth ahead of qualifying later Saturday.
Hamilton is taking part in his 300th race and seeking his first win of the season after three straight podiums. The Mercedes driver expressed surprise early into P3 when he was 1.7 seconds behind Verstappen’s time.
“1.7? Jeez” he said over team radio.
Ferrari topped both Friday’s practices through Leclerc then Sainz.
Ferrari is seeking a third consecutive victory following Sainz’s win at Silverstone and Leclerc’s drive to victory in Austria, which saw him trim Verstappen’s overall lead to 38 points.
Red Bull and Ferrari have won the first 11 races between them — with Red Bull up 7-4.
The atmosphere at the Paul Ricard circuit in southeastern France was calm compared to some of the boorish behavior at recent races.