Max Verstappen reacts to Charles Leclerc’s pole position at the French GP | F1 | sport
Max Verstappen has stressed that Red Bull can still challenge Charles Leclerc and Ferrari for victory in tomorrow’s French Grand Prix despite missing out on pole position. The defending champion revealed his car was “quick on the straights”, which the team could use to their advantage over Ferrari in the race.
He admitted qualifying was “a little trickier” than he expected after being on the pace all weekend. The Dutchman was fastest in FP3 this morning but couldn’t convert his earlier advantage to pole position.
He said: “Well, FP3 doesn’t qualify clearly. Overall I think we were lacking a bit in qualifying, just general grip. It was a little trickier than I would have thought. hoped for, but overall we still have a decent race car.”
“Hopefully tomorrow works in our favour, we are quick on the straights so we can use it tomorrow. Obviously they were very quick again.”
READ MORE: Leclerc explained why he ‘has the edge’ over Verstappen at French GP
Verstappen was only eight thousandths of a second slower than Leclerc after his first run in Q3. The Dutchman was able to go faster in his second moto but couldn’t get ahead of the Ferrari after some shrewd Prancing Horse tactics.
With Carlos Sainz already penalized on the grid for tomorrow’s race, he slowed down to give Leclerc a giant tow on the Mistral straight. This allowed the Monegasque to gain speed, which allowed him to edge Verstappen by three tenths.
Red Bull appeared to have favorable race pace over Ferrari in yesterday’s long runs which could see the advantage change for tomorrow’s Grand Prix. The team is also looking to have a slight advantage down the straights, which should help with passing on the backstretch.
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After the session, Christian Horner consoled Verstappen via team radio as the team principal blamed the wind for the loss of pole.
He said: “Slightly unfavorable wind on this lap, front row though – good job.” Verstappen replied: “Yeah, it was a bit tricky that last lap but that’s okay.”
Later, Horner admitted the team could have been closer to Ferrari without the tow, but added the result was unlikely to change.
The Red Bull boss explained: “I think we could have been a tenth or a tenth and a half closer [without it], but just above that lap Ferrari had the advantage over us today. We have two very different concepts to attack this circuit this weekend; Ferrari has a bit more downforce and we are a bit more balanced.
“To have both cars up there, we have two against one, which is always an interesting strategic dynamic.”