Monday, 23 July, 2018

French Grand Prix qualifying: Hamilton takes POLE on Mercedes front row

Lewis Hamilton admits England game against Panama will be a distraction Hamilton takes pole as Sainz claims 7th and Alonso suffers
Sergio Cook | 28 June, 2018, 13:58

The Mercedes star has leapfrogged Sebastian Vettel who was holding onto a narrow lead in the points table.

"I am happy with it but I am always trying for perfection", he said. "I think it is a tricky track, not easy to get in a good ride start to finish".

"So I was still finding gains in every run throughout qualifying".

The session was busy throughout, while many ticket-holders were reportedly held up in long traffic jams on blocked roads in stifling conditions en route to the track from the nearby coastal resort towns. "We should have more of a rhythm".

Hamilton benefited from an engine upgrade that Mercedes failed to roll out in the last round when the British driver lost his lead to Vettel.

The four-time world champion's lap of 1 minute, 30.029 seconds around Paul Ricard was enough to edge out teammate Valtteri Bottas to ensure he starts from the front in Sunday's race.

The 90-minute opening 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. The Swedish driver was unharmed.

After topping qualifying for the first time since the Spanish Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton said it was great to be back at the front of the grid in France.

Minutes later, Hamilton complained his Mercedes was having trouble turning.

The latter time was a considerable 0.704 faster than Red Bull's Australian Daniel Ricciardo, the best of the rest.

A wheel then came off Sergio Perez's Force India vehicle at speed on the Mistral straight in the late afternoon.

The four-time world champion said he will try to do two things at once - prepare for the race and support England when they play Panama.

Lewis Hamilton during the French Grand Prix race at Circuit Paul Ricard, Le Castellet, France on June 24, 2018.

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