French Grand Prix LIVE: Hamilton writes off victory hopes as Verstappen eyes Leclerc duel

Lewis Hamilton will face an uphill battle to secure a podium finish at today’s French Grand Prix, with Mercedes still considerably slower than the likes of Ferrari and Red Bull in spite of their best efforts to fix their early-season problems. Charles Leclerc will lead Max Verstappen off the line when the five red lights go out, while Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz will be hoping to climb up the order to challenge for a welcome haul of points over the course of the 53-lap contest.

It could be another frustrating afternoon for Mercedes, though, with the Silver Arrows finishing almost a second off the pace of the leaders in Saturday’s qualifying session. Hamilton has already written off his chances of securing a surprise victory in France by insisting that Ferrari and Red Bull are simply in a league of their own as things stand.

“There is nothing I can do in my power to change that,” said Hamilton. “Everyone is working as hard as they can. Each weekend we come with little upgrades but sometimes it doesn’t make a difference.

“That is difficult for everyone. Where I am focused on is trying to understand this car more and working closely on telling the team the bits I do want on the car next year and the bits I don’t.

“We are further back than I thought we would be. I was hoping at the next race in Budapest we could close a couple of tenths and be in the fight, though if it is anything like this, it is going to be a while before we win, but it is not impossible.”

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