Hamilton eases to pole in France as Vettel struggles to seventh

Lewis Hamilton eased to pole position at the French Grand Prix ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas, with Sebastian Vettel struggling to qualify just seventh.

Mercedes locked out the front row in comfortable fashion, with Hamilton's time of 1:28.319 never looking like it would be challenged.

The championship leader was ahead after the first runs of Q3, then improved with his second attempt, although his initial time would still have proven enough as Bottas could not go quicker than his opening effort.

Bottas ended the session 0.286seconds adrift for Mercedes, who have looked dominant all week in topping every practice and qualifying session.

The Mercedes cars were the first to reach the chequered flag, but there would have been few nerves on the pit-wall about whether they would be caught as the other cars completed Q3.

Charles Leclerc was third for Ferrari after finishing 0.646s behind, with Max Verstappen over a second adrift in fourth to complete the second row.

"It's not an easy track, Valtteri's been quick all weekend and I just kept chipping away," said pole-sitter Hamilton. "I'm happy I got the potential out of the car." 

Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz Jr made up an all-McLaren third row to continue a tremendous weekend for the team.

A despondent Vettel - attempting to respond to his controversial time penalty in Canada that cost him victory last time out - starts seventh, having briefly lost control of his Ferrari by missing upshift in his first run, meaning he did not complete a flying lap. 

That left everything to his second attempt, which was a poor 1.480s off the pace.

Daniel Ricciardo was eighth for Renault, one place ahead of Pierre Gasly, who again looks short of speed for his home Grand Prix, with Antonio Giovinazzi making up the top 10.

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:28.319
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +0.286s
3. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +0.646s
4. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +1.090s
5. Lando Norris (McLaren) +1.099s
6. Carlos Sainz (McLaren) +1.203s
7. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +1.480s
8. Daniel Ricciardo (Renault) +1.599s
9. Pierre Gasly (Red Bull) +1.865s
10. Antonio Giovinazzi +5.101s

Read Full Story

FROM OUR PARTNERS