Title race heats up a max

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The title race heats up as Max Verstappen takes pole position ahead of Lewis Hamilton.

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Friday, 25th June 2021


On Saturday, Max Verstappen won pole for the French Grand Prix, with Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton behind the Red Bull driver on the front row, laying the groundwork for another tense race in this season's carefully balanced title duel. In the other Mercedes, Valtteri Bottas will line up alongside Verstappen's teammate Sergio Perez on the second row.

Verstappen has a four-point lead over Hamilton in the Formula One world championship heading into Sunday's race at the Circuit Paul Ricard. Hamilton won the last two races held at Le Castellet, in 2018 and 2019, from the pole position, although Verstappen came into qualifying as the favourite after dominating the last two practise sessions.

Verstappen, who hasn't won since the season opening in Bahrain, is eager to turn pole into victory after a torn tyre cost him an almost certain victory last time out in Baku.

"So far, it's been a pretty good weekend on a circuit that's usually difficult for us, and getting pole position was fantastic."

"We had a great day, but we need to finish it tomorrow and get the 25 points we lost in Baku. We have a lot of potential."

Hamilton was relieved to close the gap to 0.258s after struggling to keep up with his Red Bull rival during practise.

"We'll keep pushing, fighting, and giving everything we've got. Their long-run speed is a tenth or two faster than ours, but the automobile is now in a completely different position ""Seven-time world champion," stated the athlete.

"We're going to fight for a chance in turn one, and there could be some interesting strategy tomorrow," he added. "I think there might be some rain tomorrow, so a chance to see a rain master."

Carlos Sainz of Ferrari was fifth fastest in qualifying, securing a third row slot behind Pierre Gasly's Alpha Tauri.

The top ten was completed by Sainz's teammate Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris of McLaren, with Fernando Alonso (Alpine) and Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) rounding off the top ten.

With a 15,000-strong crowd allowed in when coronavirus restrictions were lifted, Q1 was just four minutes old when it was red-flagged after Japanese rookie Yuki Tsunoda lost control of his Alpha Tauri going out of turn one, gracefully pirouetting into the safety barrier.

Also read: After failing to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, Saina Nehwal faces a difficult road ahead: Kumar, Vimal.

Tsunoda has failed to advance to the second round for the fourth time in seven attempts.

Mick Schumacher's Haas slammed into a barrier with 22 seconds left in Q1, sad luck for the German after making it into Q2 for the first time in his nascent F1 career but being unable to compete due to car issues.

Hamilton, Perez, and Bottas were the closest to Verstappen in Q1.

In Q2, the Mercedes two topped the timings, with Bottas edging out Hamilton, who was much quicker than in practise. Next up were Perez and Verstappen, setting up an exciting Q3 battle for the Provencal pole.

It was Verstappen on provisional pole with Hamilton alongside him following the first toss of the Q3 dice, and that's how it ended after the final flurry of flying laps.

After catastrophic performances on the streets of Monaco and Baku, Hamilton and Mercedes were relieved to return to a classic circuit.

However, based on this qualifying, the two teams' vehicles appear to be quite evenly matched.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, for one, is enjoying the thrilling competition: "What has been thrown at us is wonderful, in my opinion (this season). Every year is difficult, but this year? It's fantastic."

 

The News Talkie Bureau

Source

NDTV


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