Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Paul Ricard, 2021

Breakthrough in second practice key to French GP pole – Verstappen

2021 French Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen says that his Red Bull team had to make a “turnaround” in order to beat Mercedes to pole at the French Grand Prix.

Verstappen beat both Mercedes drivers to pole at a track where it had been assumed Mercedes might regain the upper hand they lost in Monaco and Azerbaijan.

After qualifying on pole, Verstappen was cautiously optimistic that this showed Red Bull had the pace edge at Paul Ricard.

“So far it’s been a really positive weekend,” said Verstappen. “[Especially] on a track where normally it’s been a bit difficult for us.”

Mercedes narrowly held the upper hand in first practice, while Verstappen beat Valtteri Bottas to by just eight thousandths of a second in the afternoon. In final practice, Verstappen was fastest by a surprising margin of 0.747 seconds.

He credited the gains to work done during second practice. “I think yesterday, FP2 was a bit of a turnaround and just made it even better today so, of course, to get pole position was really nice.”

Verstappen is eager to make amends for the points he lost due to his high-speed tyre failure while leading the Azerbaijan Grand Prix two weeks ago.

“Of course no points are scored today,” he said. “But for us [it’s been a] great day and of course we have to finish it off tomorrow and try and get the 25 points we lost in Baku.

“But yeah, it’s great promise from our side and I hope that we can keep it up.”

The pole-winner is confident Red Bull can sustain their pace advantage in race trim. “The car felt good in FP2 yesterday, so [I’m] looking forward to it,” he said.

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Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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