While Max Verstappen expects Mercedes to “disappear” at the front in the French Grand Prix, he feels he can take the fight to Ferrari with Red Bull for the final podium spot.

The Dutch driver has qualified in fourth place at Circuit Paul Ricard, edging out McLaren’s Lando Norris by just 0.009s, as he looks to attack Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc who starts directly ahead of him in third place.

Despite Red Bull struggling for balance and outright pace at the French track, Verstappen remains optimistic of returning to the podium for the first time since the Spanish Grand Prix – at a track which posed similar challenges to Red Bull’s package.

With Sebastian Vettel qualifying down in seventh place, Verstappen is targeting Leclerc in the fight for the final podium spot.

“I don’t think Ferrari will disappear. I think it is more that Mercedes will disappear,” Verstappen said. “I hope I can fight with the Ferrari cars for the final podium spot.

“In my final run in Q3 I think we could’ve been closer to Ferrari but I had a weird behaviour in the last few corners so it was a bit of a shame. It is like it is at the moment.”

Verstappen feels he is losing most time down the start/finish straight and the long Mistral straight, albeit cut in two by a chicane, but he feels regardless of engine power deficits it is a circuit which doesn’t suit the Red Bull package.

“If you look at last year as well, it was not an easy track for us,” he said. “Especially with the difficulty we had this morning [in FP3], the car we had in qualifying was not that bad.

“But we lose a lot of time on the straights. But also having said that, from the car performance I think we are not extracting the most.”

 

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