MX23RW : Sunday, August 1 13:05:07| >> :120:13030:13030:

Max Verstappen secures pole position for French Grand Prix

Max Verstappen secures pole position for French Grand Prix
© Reuters
Lewis Hamilton was second with his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas third at the Paul Ricard circuit.

Max Verstappen dominated qualifying for the French Grand Prix to put his Red Bull on pole position.

The championship leader finished 0.258 seconds clear of title rival Lewis Hamilton with his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas third at the Paul Ricard circuit.

Sergio Perez will start fourth in the other Red Bull ahead of Ferrari's Carlos Sainz and the AlphaTauri of Pierre Gasly.

Hamilton has bossed the past two editions of the French race, winning both rounds from pole, but the seven-time world champion has not had an answer for the pace of Red Bull and Verstappen here this weekend.

Hamilton, using Bottas' old chassis following a planned rotation of parts, has not been entirely at one with his machine, complaining in practice on Friday that there was something wrong with his car.

So he will take some comfort from joining his title rival on the front row. Nevertheless it is Verstappen, who should have won in Azerbaijan a fortnight ago before he suffered a tyre blowout with just five laps remaining, that heads into Sunday's race as the favourite to extend his four-point advantage.

There were fist-pumps in the Mercedes garage with Bottas taking third to split the Red Bulls.

"So far it has been a positive weekend on a track that has been really difficult for us," said Verstappen after claiming his fifth pole.

"No points are scored but for us today but it is a great day. We need to finish it off tomorrow and get the 25 points that we lost in Baku."

Hamilton said: "It has been a really hard weekend, mentally, trying to get the car into a happy place.

"You would not believe how many changes we have made.

"I have been unhappy in the car. Max has been incredibly quick. We have got a race on our hands and we are loving the battle."

Earlier, Yuki Tsunoda and Mick Schumacher both crashed out of Q1. Tsunoda slid backwards into the barriers after carrying too much speed through the opening corner.

The Japanese rookie was unable to engage first gear in his AlphaTauri and the session was stopped to retrieve his stricken machine.

AlphaTauri driver Yuki Tsunoda
AlphaTauri driver Yuki Tsunoda crashed out of Q1 (Francois Mori/AP)

Then, in the closing minutes of Q1, Schumacher lost control of his Haas through the right-handed Turn 6 and collected the barriers.

Schumacher sustained damage to the left-front and rear of his car, having appeared on course to take part in Q2 for the first time in his career. FIA race director Michael Masi deployed the afternoon's second red flag.

Despite the accident, Schumacher is due to line up in 15th for Sunday's race, one spot behind British driver George Russell in his Williams.

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Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
United StatesUnited States20211657
Olympics flagOlympic Athletes from Russia12191344
Great BritainGreat Britain10101232
Today's Olympic highlights header

Sunday's key events

· The men's golf reaches its conclusion, with plenty of players still in medal contention. Home favourite Hideki Matsuyama is one shot off Xander Schauffele's lead, while Great Britain's Paul Casey is another shot further back and Tommy Fleetwood is also in the mix (11.30pm-8am)

· Great Britain have already made history in the BMX events in Tokyo, something Charlotte Worthington and Declan Brooks will be looking to add to in the women's (2.10am) and men's (3.10am) freestyle finals

· The final day of swimming action begins with the men's 50m freestyle final. Ben Proud could add to a medal-laden Games in the pool for Team GB so far, although he is up against USA's Caeleb Dressel, who is going for his fourth gold in Tokyo (2.30am)
· From sprint to endurance, Great Britain's second medal hope of the day comes through Daniel Jervis in the men's 1500m freestyle final (2.44am)
· Team GB will again be among the heavy favourites for gold in the last swimming event of the Games - the men's 4x100m medley relay final - having won the mixed event in a world record time on Saturday (3.36am)

· Already guaranteed at least a bronze, Pat McCormack takes part in the men's welterweight semi-final against Ireland's Aidan Walsh with a spot in the gold medal final at stake (4.03am)
· Ben Whittaker is also in the semi-finals of the men's light heavyweight and will be looking to continue Team GB's success in the ring (4.51am)

· There will be a surprise on the top of the men's tennis podium after Novak Djokovic missed out on a medal altogether. Alexander Zverev takes on Karen Khachanov in the second match on Centre Court at the Ariake Tennis Park (7am-2pm)

· Alison Young will be going for gold in the women's laser radial medal race (7.33am)

· Team GB's Max Whitlock will look to defend his 2016 Olympic title in the men's pommel horse final (10.41am)

· The men's high jump final includes GB's Tom Gale, although his chances of a medal look bleak (11.10am)
· So often the blue-riband event of the Olympics, the men's 100m final takes place as the world's fastest bid to be crowned Usain Bolt's successor. Three Brits have made it into the semi-finals (11.15am-11.32am), and the final looks wide open after an underwhelming display by favourite Trayvon Bromell on Saturday (1.50pm)

· Great Britain face India in the men's quarter-final (1pm)

> Today's schedule in full
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