Roberto Merhi admits that a podium was not possible at Paul Ricard as the Formula Renault 3.5 championship shifts its focus to Jerez.

The Spaniard struggled in qualifying this weekend, bowing to the pace of Red Bull youngsters Carlos Sainz Jr and Pierre Gasly at the French circuit.

"I think we got the best out of what we had here in terms of speed and performance," the Zeta Corse driver told Crash.net post-race. "We were fourth and lost a position to Rowland but we maybe came in far too late which is why we lost this position."

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Merhi enjoyed a race long battle with ISR's Jazeman Jaafar with the Malaysian returning to form for an impressive fifth position. This tussle, he says, did not cost the team a podium this weekend, instead highlighting Sunday's mandatory pit stop as a potential issue.

"The battle with Jaafar was not the main reason we lost out on the podium, we had quite a slow pit stop and our strategy was a bit wrong today," he explained. "I always concentrate on myself and my own race."

Just thirty-eight points separate Merhi and title leader Sainz Jr with two races remaining. FR3.5 will return in October for the ninth and final round at Jerez. If successful, Merhi would become the third rookie in series history to take championship glory joining Robert Kubica and Robin Frijns on a prestigious list.