Max Verstappen will be favourite to win Sunday’s French Grand Prix after dominating Saturday’s qualifying session to secure pole position.
- Max Verstappen will start Sunday’s French Grand Prix on pole
- The championship leader will be joined on the front row by Lewis Hamilton
- Australian Daniel Ricciardo qualified in the top 10 for the first time in three races
The championship leader was untouchable at the Circuit Paul Riccard, being the only driver to post a time under one minute and 30 seconds.
Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton was the closest to Verstappen, but was still two and a half tenths away from the Dutchman.
Circuit Paul Riccard has been a happy hunting ground for the Mercedes team since it returned to the Formula One calendar in 2018.
Heading into this weekend, Mercedes had topped the time sheets at the end of every session around the track in southern France.
But Verstappen and Red Bull have taken that advantage away with a blistering performance on Saturday.
“I knew it was going to be better than the last time we were here but this good I didn’t expect,” Verstappen said.
“This has traditionally not been an amazing track for us but to be able to put it on pole here, of course we’re super happy about that.”
Despite qualifying second and third, Mercedes boss Toto Wolf said his team was struggling for pace against the quick Red Bull.
Hamilton will start second and Valtteri Bottas will line-up third on the grid, with Sergio Perez in the second Red Bull behind them in fourth.
Wolf told Sky F1 that Mercedes needed a major improvement on Sunday to contend for the race win.
“It’s been a difficult weekend because we are just lacking pace,” he said.
“It looked much worse than in the end where we ended up but we just need to gain everywhere.”
Australian Daniel Ricciardo made it through to the final stage of qualifying for the first time in three races, starting Sunday’s grand prix in tenth.
Ricciardo will start the race on the medium compound, which will allow him to be on the faster tyre at the end of the race.
“All in all, I’m pretty happy with the performance. Everyone’s fast right now and the times are so tight, so we’ll work to keep finding pace,” he said.
“We’re still searching for those extra few tenths over a single lap, so we’ll try to make something happen [Sunday].”