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

Sherman Parsons
June 25, 2018

Lewis Hamilton clinched his 75th Formula 1 pole position on Saturday after coming out on top in qualifying for the 2018 French Grand Prix.

"Of course I am happy but I left three-tenths on the table", Hamilton told Sky Sports F1. No longer were we talking about his pace but more about his tendency to get involved in silly accidents, often on the first lap of a race.

"I only got a few laps in, then we had a water leak which we're now investigating".

After all the commotion, polesitter Hamilton was leading with Verstappen second, Ricciardo fourth, Vettel 11th and Bottas 13th.

The German's comeback was impressive but fifth would have been as much as he might have expected, while Verstappen put in another very solid performance to take his second podium in a row and his third in four races.

While talking after the race, Hamilton had a similar opinion after looking at a reply of the accident on a TV screen, "Jeez, he took him right out".

The crucial moment of the race came when a messy entry into turn one was hugely costly for Vettel, who made a quick start but locked up and clipped the rear of Bottas. Bottas returned to the pits for a new front wing while Bottas limped back on three wheels and a rim with a flailing tyre.

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Vettel was given a five-second penalty for causing the incident and recovered to finish the race fifth, and while he accepted it was his error, he said there was nothing else he could do in that position.

Valtteri Bottas said Sebastian Vettel's penalty at the French Grand Prix offered some consolation after he went from second on the grid to seventh at the finish thanks to a collision with the Ferrari driver. Apart from the colourful lines it is hard to tell where the hell you are most of the time which is the part that I dislike.

Hamilton shrugged off concerns about the engine when asked on Thursday.

"We are all on the edge and fighting for world championships", Hamilton said in defence of his rival.

Behind the top three teams, Sainz took seventh for Renault, Leclerc did well to take eighth for Sauber, Magnussen's Haas starts in ninth and Grosjean get tenth after bending his auto.

Driving conditions were optimal at the 5.8-kilometer (3.6-mile) circuit situated just inland from the Cote d' Azur.

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 years ago.

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