Hamilton heats up French Grand Prix

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.

Hamilton called his run "impeccable". "I don't think there are going to be many variances of strategy".

"To be able to represent your country and be at the top of the sport, like we are hoping the England team will be, is an honour and a privilege - and I am grateful for that". And the pressure is, as you know, you can see how close it is between us all. "It's really, really great to have this result".

Hamilton lost his lead in the standings to Vettel two weeks ago when Mercedes couldn't deliver a planned engine upgrade on time. Either they know something we don't or they have made a mistake. "We have a good vehicle".

"We got such a great response from the crowd here and I was really excited to come to the first Grand Prix here at Paul Ricard for a long long time and to be on the front is a great showing of the hard work from all the guys in my team".

Red Bull took fourth and fifth, Max Verstappen in front of Daniel Ricciardo, while Kimi Raikkonen was a subdued sixth after another lacklustre Q3 display.

Ferrari young driver and Sauber race driver Charles Leclerc has been heavily linked with taking his seat for 2019 and while the Finn disappointed on Saturday in France, Leclerc impressed again to take P8 in a auto which shouldn't even be threatening the realms of the top ten at all. His final sector time eclipsed that of his team-mate to snatch a 75th career pole by 0.118 seconds.

Fernando Alonso, victor of the 24 Hour Le Mans last week, failed to get out of the first qualifying section, which culls the slowest five drivers, along with McLaren partner Stoffel Vandoorne and both Williams cars.

With the England football team hot favourites to secure progression to the Round of 16 at the World Cup against Panama, the country's only current F1 driver is also odds-on to win his own worldwide content in Sunday's grand prix.

Alonso and Vandoorne sandwiched Toro Rosso's Brendon Hartley, though he will drop to the back of the grid on account of incurring the maximum 15-place grid penalty due to taking on a new power unit.

"This season is extremely close between three teams now", he continued, "just a little bit varying between race weekends, but any gain we can get, including a new engine, will be very important if we want to win the title". Hamilton followed and, after the first flying runs, he and Bottas topped the times before the session was red-flagged when Grosjean crashed at Turn Three.

The last time a F1 race was at Le Castellet was in 1990, when French great Alain Prost won for Ferrari.


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