Championship leader Max Verstappen will start from pole position, after a sensational final lap at the end of qualifying in France; team-mate Sergio Pérez lines up fourth.
Red Bull Racing’s Verstappen has looked the class of the field all weekend so far, taking pole by just over 0.2 seconds from championship rival Lewis Hamilton. Verstappen says that he wasn’t actually expecting to get pole position, as the Circuit Paul Ricard is one that in the past hasn’t suited the Red Bulls.
Nevertheless it is Verstappen who will be at the front of the field as the lights go out tomorrow, with the Dutchman expecting a battle with Hamilton on Sunday.
“To be able to put it on pole here, on a track that has not been our favourite in terms of performance, is very promising and a big boost for the Team. We really did not expect it so I am of course very happy. Everything has been working really well all weekend and from today even compared to yesterday we made a good improvement through hard work and maximising set-up.
“I was confident after FP3 but you never really know where you are or what everyone else will bring in Qualifying, so we should be very happy with this performance so far. There is a long run to Turn 1 so we have to get a good start tomorrow and for sure they will be very close but our long run pace in FP2 looked good so I expect another tight battle.”
“We should really be in the mix” – Pérez
Pérez had every opportunity to lock out the front row for the French Grand Prix, however a mistake on his final lap in qualifying three means he lines up fourth and behind both Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team cars. A big blow for Pérez.
Pérez is expecting an extremely close race with Mercedes, with both teams race pace looking so close to each other, the Mexican will be going all out to make it a Red Bull one-two, come the checkered flag on Sunday.
“It wasn’t an ideal qualifying as I think locking out the front row was possible but unfortunately I made a mistake on my final Q3 run which cost me quite a bit of lap time. We were going in the right direction and I was feeling comfortable with the car but I just ran wide over the kerbs at Turn 12 and the lap was gone. But tomorrow is when it matters and we have better race pace than in qualifying so we should really be in the mix.
“It will be very close with Mercedes so I will be applying the pressure from the very first lap. My starts have been good so the plan is to get a couple of positions off the line and manage the race from there to try and bring home a 1-2 for the Team. I think the race will come down to tyre management so hopefully we can outperform them in that area but either way it’s going to be very entertaining for the fans and now I’m just looking forward to tomorrow!”