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Hamilton claims 75th pole as Mercedes dominate in France

23 Juni 2018 17:49

Lewis Hamilton claimed the 75th pole of his career as Mercedes dominated qualifying on the French Grand Prix's return to Formula One.

Reigning world champion Hamilton trails Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel by a point this season, but he came out on top at Circuit Paul Ricard in a Q3 disrupted by a red flag as home hope Romain Grosjean crashed out.

And it was a Mercedes one-two as Hamilton pipped team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who looked to have done enough to start from the front.

The Briton, already leading when Grosjean's crash at turn three temporarily halted proceedings, posted a best time of one minute and 30.029 seconds - 0.118s clear of Bottas.

Championship leader Vettel was left in third, with team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, who started from pole in the last French Grand Prix 10 years ago, in sixth behind Red Bull duo Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo.

McLaren endured a difficult week, in which racing director Eric Boullier had to rubbish claims they issued staff bonuses in the form of Freddo chocolate, and matters did not improve on Saturday.

Alonso won the 24 Hours of Le Mans last weekend but failed to progress from Q1 and will start 16th, while Stoffel Vandoorne is back in 18th.

"After Saturdays, I'm always here answering negative questions," Alonso, whose future at McLaren remains uncertain, told Sky Sports. "We are not as competitive as we want to be."

Grosjean's fellow Frenchmen Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly will start from 11th and 14th respectively.

 

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes): 1:30.029secs
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes): 1:30.147s
3. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari): 1:30.400s
4. Max Verstappen (Red Bull): 1:30.705s
5. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull): 1:30.895s
6. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari): 1:31.057s
7. Carlos Sainz (Renault): 1:32.126s
8. Charles Leclerc (Sauber): 1:32.635s
9. Kevin Magnussen (Haas): 1:32.930s
10. Romain Grosjean (Haas): No time

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