Le Castellet - Lewis
Hamilton secured pole position for the French Grand Prix ahead of his
team-mate Valtteri Bottas as Mercedes dominated Saturday's crash-hit
qualifying session to sweep the front row of the grid.
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 perfect chance to regain the initiative in the
title race in Sunday's race
Championship leader, and fellow four-time world champion, Sebastian
Vettel of Ferrari was third, three-tenths off the pace, ahead of Max
Verstappen and his Red Bull team-mate Australian Daniel Ricciardo.
Kimi Raikkonen was sixth in the second Ferrari ahead of Carlos Sainz
of Renault, Charles Leclerc of Sauber, Kevin Magnussen and his Haas
team-mate Romain Grosjean, who crashed during the top-ten shootout,
halting the session for eight minutes.
"That wasn't too bad," said Hamilton. "It feels great to be back in
France - it's a beautiful place and we got a great response from the
Bottas said: "It wasn't a bad lap, not perfect either. I've been
struggling to get perfect laps this week - I was catching up rung by
rung, but a one-two here is great. The engine feels good, fresh and
Vettel admitted he may have pushed too much but was happy with third place.
"I raced in the last French Grand Prix in 2008 and it is amazing to
see so many people here and all the excitement for all of us. It is nice
to be here - there's a lot of colour, so it really comes alive."
On an initially dry track following heavy rainstorms, which had
curtailed final free practice, the air temperature was 22 degrees
Celsius and the track 30 when qualifying began.
Mercedes took control and Hamilton clocked the best time in Q1, which
ended, as rain began to fall, with both McLarens and both Williams
eliminated - a sad contrast to the pomp of the once-great British
teams, when the French race was last held at the Paul Ricard Circuit 28
Two-time champion Fernando Alonso was 16th and McLaren team-mate
Stoffel Vandoorne 18th, sandwiching Brendon Hartley in his Toro Rosso.
The luckless New Zealander will start Sunday's race from the back of
the grid after being handed a heavy penalty for replacing engine parts.
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 car.
It did nothing to slow him and as soon as Bottas had gone fastest,
Hamilton cut his time by half a second with a scorching lap. Both men
were clearly making best use of the new upgraded Mercedes engines.
Ferrari responded by going out on ultra-softs - Mercedes were on
super-softs - and Vettel jumped to second, Raikkonen to third as the
rain relented and the track became faster in the final dramatic minutes
A flying late lap by Leclerc lifted him to 10th for Sauber, pushing
Esteban Ocon and his Force India team-mate Sergio Perez out of the
shootout in 11th and 13th, either side of Nico Hulkenberg of Renault.
Pierre Gasly of Toro Rosso and Marcus Ericsson in the second Sauber were also eliminated.
The top-ten Q3 shootout began with Ferrari hastening to the fray.
Hamilton followed and, after the first flying runs, he and Bottas topped
the times before the session was red-flagged when Grosjean crashed at
He was unhurt and after climbing from his car walked back to the pits
with his helmet firmly in place, before the session resumed and
Hamilton scorched to pole on his final flying lap.