Charles Leclerc told reason why he ‘has edge’ over Max Verstappen at French GP

Max Verstappen makes subtle dig at Lewis Hamilton in April

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Former F1 driver Nico Rosberg has explained why he believes that Charles Leclerc has an advantage over Max Verstappen in the race for the title. The Monegasque racer sits 38 points behind the Dutchman after finishing ahead of Verstappen at the last two circuits.

Leclerc will be hoping to beat Verstappen to pole in France, and two recent results saw him cut the 24-year-old’s lead at the top of the Drivers’ Championship. Rosberg believes that the title race is alive and even gave Leclerc the advantage.

“F1 is as exciting as ever,” Rosberg told Sky Sports F1. “The title race is still very much on because Ferrari are not letting up in terms of car pace, they’re still fast. I would say that they still have the edge over Red Bull. We saw that yesterday, on pace they [Ferrari] were very dominant, but just now we saw a bit of a reversal with Max going really fast.

“We don’t really know where that’s coming from but that’s great because it leaves us guessing for Qualifying. We just do not know who is going to be on pole and that’s what is so fantastic about this title race at the moment.”

Leclerc finished third in the final practice session, behind team-mate Carlos Sainz, who will drop to the back of the grid due to engine penalties, and Verstappen who led with a medium-tyred benchmark of 1m 32.808s.

Despite Rosberg tipping Leclerc to beat Verstappen, the Red Bull’s straight-line speed advantage could prove difficult for Ferrari to compete with at Paul Ricard. “If Red Bull have been able to engineer and keep the speed that they had yesterday in the long runs, and still continue the short runs then they are kind of unstoppable,” Anthony Davidson told Sky Sports F1. “But you never know this year. It’s up and down, up and down, the way you want it.

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“You win the trophies and you spray the champagne on Sunday afternoon. It’s not all about qualifying. Ferrari learnt that in Austria and I think they’re putting that into practice here as well. Sunday is where they want to make it good.”

Mercedes have also been tipped to perform in France, where their car is supposedly better suited to the track. Lewis Hamilton has shown improved performances in recent weeks and pundit Johnny Herbert believes he could claim his first win of the season this weekend.

“I think there’s a chance,” Herbert told Sky Sports. “And I say that because it’s a very, very smooth surface here at Le Castellet. So I think that is where the Mercedes will be able to perform that little bit better than we’ve seen in the past.”

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