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Carlos Sainz Jr will start race one at Paul Ricard from pole position as he attempts to keep his Formula Renault 3.5 championship advantage.

Saturday's pole position is the Spaniard's first since the Nurburgring in July and his seventh overall this season. The 19-year-old, who heads the championship standings, will be joined on the grid by his fellow Red Bull junior Pierre Gasly. The Frenchman was second in front of his home crowd.

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Matthieu Vaxiviere, the second rookie to make the top three, got the better of his team mate and Friday pace-setter Marlon Stockinger for third with title contender Roberto Merhi fourth. Meanwhile, Fortec Motorsports' Sergey Sirotkin showed a return to form for fifth, half a second behind the pole man.

Zoel Amberg was the biggest surprise of the session to sit sixth fastest for AVF, one place in front of Stockinger. The Filipino racer and Lotus F1 junior could only manage seventh on the grid after a strong showing in Friday practice.

Long-time leader of the session, Oliver Rowland dropped to eighth after pitting for fresh tyres while his more experienced rivals, Jazeman Jaafar and Marco Sorensen, completed the top ten.

Contesting only his third FR3.5 qualifying, Lotus F1 junior Esteban Ocon will start just outside the points in thirteenth for Comtec Racing. This will be the Frenchman's final weekend as he returns to FIA European F3 duties to complete his championship challenge.

Race one will begin this afternoon with Sainz Jr looking to increase his sixteen point advantage to championship rival Merhi.