Max Verstappen took pole position on Saturday at the Circuit Paul Ricard in the south of France.

That gave the Limburger a strong starting position for the French Grand Prix on Sunday, but it was also a signal to the competition: the RB16B is lightning fast.

Rule changes for wings and tires do not affect that.

From this weekend, many extra checks will take place on the cars, all of which have been introduced after accusations against Red Bull in particular. That started with the rear wings that bent too far back during the Spanish GP in Barcelona. Mercedes in particular pointed to onboard images from Verstappen's car, which showed that there was indeed quite a bit of movement in the wing. Lewis Hamilton also spoke several times about Red Bull's 'flexiwings'. A riot was born.

While Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff and his Red Bull counterpart Christian Horner verbally fought each other, the FIA ​​introduced extra checks per France.

Horner did agree that some changes had to be made to the rear wing to meet these tests.

The big question, of course, was whether this would cost Red Bull speed.

Verstappen's pole gives a cautious answer to that: it doesn't look like it.

Riot two arose after Verstappen's tire blowout during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix two weeks ago.

The Dutchman immediately sharpened the discussion afterwards by

stating in

front of

Ziggo

's camera

that "Pirelli will say again that it is due to junk on the track".

According to Verstappen, 'Pirelli just has to admit that the company is wrong'.

According to Verstappen, 'Pirelli just has to admit that the company is wrong'.

Photo: Getty Images

Pirelli blames Red Bull without blaming them

Pirelli's statement came after an investigation this week.

According to the Italian manufacturer, the cause of the blowout is not external.

But nobody really knows what it was.

Pirelli puts the blame on the teams, without putting the blame on the teams.

That sounds strange, but it is what happens.

It's like this: Every team has to follow Pirelli's regulations for how the tire should be used.

Important here are the minimum tire pressure, how long and at what temperature the tires are in the tire warmers and the way the wheel stands on the asphalt.

That seems easy to check, but it is currently not.

Certainly not the tire pressure.

Until two weeks ago, this was only checked before the car entered the track, not while driving.

That wouldn't be a problem if the tire pressure stays the same all the time, but it isn't.

Due to the temperature change in the tires, the pressure also changes.

Pirelli's minimum tire pressure requirement is thus a calculation, anticipating what the pressure should be while driving.

And the tires have to comply with that before the car chooses the asphalt.

According to Pirelli, all teams adhered to this neatly, so far nothing wrong.

'Red Bull and Aston Martin drove with too low tire pressure'

Only here the competitive spirit of the teams comes into play. In principle, they want to keep the tire pressure as low as possible. This provides more grip and makes the car faster. The aim is therefore to play with the temperature of the tires in such a way that the requirements are met neatly, but that you drive as close to the limit as possible. According to Pirelli, Red Bull and Aston Martin went too far in Baku and they ended up driving the race with too low tire pressure. According to Verstappen, that is not true. He states this on the basis of his own data from his team, which can see how high the tire pressure is while driving.

"We gave them that data, which clearly showed that we were not driving below the minimum tire pressure," said the Limburger this weekend.

Aston Martin also denies doing anything wrong in Baku.

On that team, Lance Stroll's tire burst earlier in the race.

Pirelli points to low tire pressure as the cause of the blowouts of Verstappen and Stroll.

That puts the Italian manufacturer and the two teams squarely against each other.

One of the two 'parts' is not quite telling the truth.

Verstappen points fully to Pirelli: "It would be better if they just admit they are wrong."

Because the data is not publicly available, it is difficult for the outside world to assess exactly what is going on.

Both the rear wing and the tire pressure of the Red Bull have so far passed the checks in France.

Both the rear wing and the tire pressure of the Red Bull have so far passed the checks in France.

Photo: Getty Images

Mercedes makes Red Bull suspicious

Mercedes meanwhile does not fail to push the big title competitor Red Bull towards the suspect's bench.

Hamilton already stated in the press conference on Thursday, sitting next to Verstappen, that Pirelli is not to blame.

Wolff added this weekend that according to him there is "not always a level playing field" in terms of tire pressure.

Teams sometimes drive with lower tire pressures than Pirelli prescribes, the Austrian implied.

His own team is not one of them, Wolff emphasized: "We always stick to the limits".

Surprisingly, all the other team bosses and drivers say exactly the same thing.

Pirelli and the FIA ​​were in any case erring on the safe side: from this weekend onward, tire pressures will be checked at several points, including after qualifying and the race.

All team bosses fell over each other to report that this measure would not affect them: after all, they already comply with the regulations.

Next year there will even be an FIA sensor in all tires, allowing independent monitoring while driving.

Speed ​​Red Bull does not seem to be hit

Despite these measures, Pirelli was apparently not so sure after all.

The minimum tire pressure has been increased to reduce the risk of blowouts.

Several drivers complain about 'balloons' that they have to drive.

This also raised the question of how much Red Bull would be affected.

Is the accusation of, among others, Mercedes and Pirelli that the team of the World Cup leader goes below the minimum with the tire pressure?

The newly introduced controls so far show that this is not the case.

And does the Red Bull suffer from the increased tire pressure?

Verstappen's pole on a track that normally suits Mercedes better tells a different story.



The French Grand Prix starts on Sunday at 3 p.m.

See also: Horner after pole Verstappen: 'We can now beat Mercedes on every circuit'