French Grand Prix 2021: Who is on F1 Pole Position?

Published 06/20/2021, 2:17 AM EDT
Formula One F1 – French Grand Prix – Circuit Paul Ricard, Le Castellet, France – June 19, 2021 Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton Pool via REUTERS/Nicolas Tucat


Formula One returns to Le Castellet after two years with the French Grand Prix this weekend. While drivers struggled in the practice sessions on Friday, the championship contenders set the pace in Circuit Paul Ricard on Saturday.

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Despite Mercedes’ excellent track record, Red Bull edged ahead of the defending champions in qualifying. In addition, Max Verstappen put his Red Bull on pole ahead of his title rival Lewis Hamilton, which could make for an interesting race later today.

Max Verstappen takes his fifth career pole in Le Castellet

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After putting in the fastest lap in FP3, Verstappen scorched the twisty Circuit Paul Ricard in qualifying. Although he topped Q1, Mercedes responded strongly in Q2, with Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton finishing first and second.

Formula One F1 – French Grand Prix – Circuit Paul Ricard, Le Castellet, France – June 19, 2021 Red Bull’s Max Verstappen after getting pole position Pool via REUTERS/Nicolas Tucat

However, the Dutchman left all challengers for pole position in his wake in Q3, putting in the only sub-90 second lap of the entire weekend. Hamilton could only qualify second, putting in a lap three-tenths slower than Verstappen.

Their teammates finished close behind, with Bottas qualifying third despite a strong performance in all three practice sessions. Sergio Perez, who won the last race in Baku, qualified fourth.

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Can Verstappen win his maiden French Grand Prix?

Although Le Castellet is a track oozing Mercedes dominance, Red Bull looked the stronger of the two teams. Taking pole position in Circuit Paul Ricard often augurs well for the pole sitter, who is Verstappen this year.

In the past two editions, Hamilton took pole position and the race win in the French Grand Prix, which Verstappen will hope for in today’s race.

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Should the Dutchman win, he will extend his lead in the drivers’ championship. A win for the 23-year-old in a track where Red Bull often ended up second best would be a major confidence boost heading into Austria next weekend.

However, Mercedes have displayed a decent race pace this season despite falling short on single-lap pace. While Verstappen has an advantage on the grid, Hamilton has an advantage with his experience of winning on this track twice.

Will the young Dutchman continue his exquisite run of form later today? Or is a change in the championship lead on the cards in Le Castellet?

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Sanket Nair

339 articles

Sanket Nair is an F1 Author at EssentiallySports. A Sports Management student, he is a huge fan of Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo and hopes to see Red Bull break Mercedes' dominance and win the World Championship soon. Sanket has been hooked to the sport ever since he watched the battle for the 2010 World Championship go down to the wire at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

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