Published: Sat, June 23, 2018
Sport | By Wilson Duncan

French F1 Grand Prix 2018 Qualifying: Lewis Hamilton Takes Pole Position

French F1 Grand Prix 2018 Qualifying: Lewis Hamilton Takes Pole Position

The four-time world champion clocked a best lap in one minute and 30.029 seconds to grab the 75th pole position of his career ahead of Bottas, giving himself a ideal chance to regain the initiative in the title race in Sunday's race. I've been struggling to get flawless laps this week - I was catching up rung by rung, but a one-two here is great.

"This place is lovely, it's really stunning down here", Hamilton said, speaking yesterday.

"We were running the new spec engine today which felt fresh and good, but we didn't run it yet in full power, so there's more to discover", added Bottas ominously.

Vettel admitted he may have pushed too much but was happy with third place.

Hamilton, a point behind Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel after seven races, complained about his car's handling over the radio but still put in a best time of one minute 32.231 seconds. "It is nice to be here - there's a lot of colour, so it really comes alive".

Qualifying began on a dry track but with weather forecasts predicting more rain, so a good start was pivotal.

But the Silver Arrows unveiled their new specification on Friday at Circuit Paul Ricard just outside of Marseille where four-time world champion Hamilton dominated both practice sessions.

Two-time champion Fernando Alonso was 16th and McLaren team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne 18th, sandwiching Brendon Hartley in his Toro Rosso. That issue has caused Honda to give Hartley a new power unit that results in him having to start from the back of the grid on Sunday.

Hamilton's pace maintained Mercedes supremacy in every session from Friday morning, but as the rain intensified in Q2 he was struggling for comfort in his auto. It made for a hectic ending to the session, with Bottas impressing but Hamilton going even faster.

Reliability concerns delayed the upgrade at the last moment in Canada, but two weeks of hard work back at the team's engine base in Brixworth allowed it to make its debut in all six Mercedes-powered cars on Friday.

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen was fourth on the timesheets with Vettel fifth.

The top-ten Q3 shootout began with Ferrari hastening to the fray.

Hamilton beat Bottas by 0.118 seconds in a top 10 shoot-out interrupted by a red flag following a crash by Haas driver Romain Grosjean.

The 90-minute session was red-flagged with a minute remaining when Ericsson lost control at the Beausset corner, spun and hit the barriers hard, with the Sauber auto then catching fire.

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