Verstappen beats Hamilton to pole position for the French Grand Prix

Max Verstappen continued his impressive form in the 2021 FIA Formula One World Championship by claiming pole position for the French Grand Prix ahead of title rival Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas with Red Bull Racing teammate Sergio Perez fourth.

Perez claimed a surprise race victory last time out as both Verstappen and Hamilton suffered dramatic late exits from the lead, and the grid positions could well ensure yet more drama on Sunday as the leading protagonists go head-to-head one more for the win.

“So far it has been a really positive weekend on a track where it has been a bit difficult for us,” said Verstappen after claiming his fourth F1 pole position. “I think yesterday in P2 it was a bit of a turn around and today to get pole position was really nice.

“Of course no points are scored today, but for us a great day and we have to finish it off tomorrow and get the 25 points we lost in Baku but great promise form our side and I hope that we can keep it up.”

For Hamilton, who lost his championship lead in spectacular circumstances in Baku after accidentally altering his brake bias on the late restart, there was certainly a renewed optimism in his voice as Mercedes looks to out stratify their rivals during the long game on Sunday.

“It’s been a really, really hard weekend trying to get the car into a happy place,” reflected the seven-time world champion. “You wouldn’t believe how many changes I’ve made since Practice 1 going round and round chasing our tail and coming back to something similar to where we started. But I’ve been generally unhappy in the car all weekend.

“Congratulations to Max, he did a great job, they’ve been incredibly quick, they have a new engine this weekend – not a new step as far as I’m aware – so we’ve got a race on our hands and are loving the battle, so we’ll keep pushing, keep fighting and give it everything.

“On our long run pace they were a tenth or two quicker than us, but my car is in a much different place now so I’m going to stay hopeful and do everything I can. There will be some interesting strategy tomorrow, maybe some rain, so you may get to see the rain masters do their thing!”

Lining up behind the first two rows of the grid is the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz, Pierre Gasly’s Alpha Tauri and Charles Leclerc with Lando Norris, Fernando Alonso and Daniel Ricciardo rounding out the top ten.

Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.