French Grand Prix: Charles Leclerc clinches pole position ahead of Max Verstappen

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On pole: Charles Leclerc (Getty Images)
On pole: Charles Leclerc (Getty Images)

Lewis Hamilton will start his 300th Formula One race from fourth on the grid after Charles Leclerc secured pole position at the French Grand Prix.

Leclerc breathed fresh life into his championship bid with a comprehensive victory at the last round in Austria a fortnight ago.

And the Monegasque will be in prime position to secure another much-needed win in his title fight against Red Bull's Max Verstappen.

World champion Verstappen qualified second - three tenths back - with Sergio Perez third in the other Red Bull.

Leclerc heads into Sunday's race 38 points behind Verstappen, and with Carlos Sainz already due to start last for changing the engine which caught fire so spectacularly in Austria, Ferrari used the Spaniard as a tow to pull Leclerc along. It worked to tremendous effect with Leclerc roaring to front spot.

After taking his 16th career pole and seventh of the season, Leclerc said: "It was a great lap. I have struggled all weekend to put a lap together but I managed to do it.

"I also had the help of Carlos and that was amazing team work, because without him it would have been much more close so a huge thanks to him and I hope he can get into the fight. The car feels good but let's see how it goes tomorrow."

Verstappen was quickest in final practice but could not match Leclerc's speed in qualifying.

"Third practice is clearly not qualifying, but overall we were lacking general grip," he said.

"It was trickier than I hoped but overall we have a decent race car. We will be quick on the straights, so hopefully we can use that tomorrow."

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