French Grand Prix LIVE: Max Verstappen looks to extend F1 title lead over Lewis Hamilton

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French Grand Prix LIVE

– Max Verstappen starts on pole for Red Bull, team-mate Sergio Perez 4th
– Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas 2nd and 3rd
– Silver Arrows have won both races since French GP’s 2018 return to F1
– Verstappen goes into Grand Prix four points ahead in drivers’ standings
– Race gets underway at 2pm UK time

1.20pm: There was rain in Le Castellet earlier, as per Mercedes’ tweet below. Things could get very interesting indeed if it rains throughout the race, which gets underway in 40 minutes’ time.

After all, we know Hamilton – one of the best F1 drivers of all time in rainy conditions – loves driving in the wet. 

He said yesterday: “I don’t know, maybe it’ll rain – so you’d actually be able to see the rain-masters get to do their thing. I’m excited.”

1pm: But defending F1 champion Hamilton has vowed to put the pressure on Verstappen into Turn One at the start.

“They have obviously made some improvements and it’s not the same as Barcelona right now,” Hamilton told Sky Sports F1.

“I don’t think I’ll be able to follow that closely. Their end of straight speed for some reason is mighty, so we shall see.

“They are generally a couple of tenths quicker on race pace. So I think it will be very hard to keep up with them.

“But it doesn’t mean we’re not going to be able to fight them, maybe at the beginning. But on pure pace, they’re fast right now.”

12.45pm: Red Bull boss Christian Horner thinks Verstappen has a huge opportunity to send a real message to Mercedes with victory today.

A win would be the Milton Keynes-based team’s third in succession after Verstappen came first in Monaco and Perez in Azerbaijan.

“It [pole] certainly gives us more confidence, but let’s see how tomorrow goes,” Horner told Sky Sports F1.

“But this circuit has been such a stronghold for Mercedes over the recent years, so if we can beat them here then really we can beat them anywhere.

“So, there’s a lot at stake obviously. The whole team is just working incredibly well, working long hours.

“To see the whole team coming together as it is, putting this pressure on Mercedes is phenomenal.”

F1 preview: A lap of the French Grand Prix

12.30pm: Good afternoon and welcome to Express Sport’s live coverage of the 2021 French Grand Prix!

Max Verstappen secured pole position in qualifying yesterday and sits on the front row for today’s race with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.

Their team-mates Valtteri Bottas, of Mercedes, and Sergio Perez, of Red Bull, are third and fourth respectively.

If Verstappen can convert his starting spot into a race win, he will end the day at least 11 points clear of Hamilton in the Drivers’ Championship.

You can relive qualifying in full here, with both Yuki Tsunoda and Mick Schumacher having crashed out in Q1.

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