Max Verstappen clinches his 5th pole career at Paul Ricard, a circuit which has been Mercedes territory since its comeback in the Formula 1 calendar in 2018.
Verstappen's pace looked strong in FP3, and the Dutch man showed his supremacy in qualifying too, clocking a fastest time on 1.29.990s. The Red Bull driver was the only one to go under 1.30s at the French venue. The lap time, which was worth the pole, was also 0.258s faster than Lewis Hamilton's attempt: the seven time world champion had some issues since FP1, feeding the "chessis switch" rumors, but as always the Briton came back when it mattered and will share the front row with Verstappen. The two title contenders will both be on the medium tyre compound for the start, as the soft is not ideal for the race.
Mercedes has always been unbeatable in France, securing both pole position and victory in the 2018 and 2019 editions; the RB16B race pace looks strong, so we can expect a tight fight for the win during the race, helped by Verstappen and Hamilton's teammates on the 2nd row.
“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," said Verstappen after quali.
"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.”