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Ferrari braced for 'very tough' race against 'extremely fast' Red Bull

Ferrari and Red Bull look set to be involved in another head-to-head battle for victory during Sunday's French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard.

Ferrari Racing Director Laurent Mekies has admitted that the team face a "very tough" challenge from Red Bull during the French Grand Prix. Charles Leclerc grabbed pole position for Ferrari at Paul Ricard as Carlos Sainz – penalised for taking on new power unit elements – focused on giving his teammate a tow. However, given the long-run pace displayed by Max Verstappen and Red Bull in practice, Ferrari are expecting to be pushed all the way on Sunday.

Ferrari wary of Red Bull's French GP race pace

While pleased to have secured pole position, Mekies issued words of caution over Ferrari's prospects in the race. "It's going to be a very tough fight," Mekies told Viaplay after qualifying. "First, it's a track on which we haven't been particularly good in the past, so high degradation and front-limited. But we have made great progress in that area. "We know it's going to be very tough. Red Bull was extremely fast on the race stint pace they had in FP2, so we expect them to be very, very strong."

Red Bull challenge Ferrari with "two against one"

At least initially, Leclerc will be on his own against the Red Bulls up front, with Sergio Perez supporting Verstappen in third. This is due to Sainz dropping to the back of the grid for his aforementioned engine-related penalty. "They will be two against one, so we know it's going to be tough out there to defend from pole position," added Mekies. "But it's the way it is. It's an important answer for us to see how much progress we've made in these sort of circumstances – very high track temperatures and high degradation."

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