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Hamilton on French pole, Ricciardo fifth

28 June, 2018, 01:16 | Author: Carla Brady
  • Hamilton takes pole as Sainz claims 7th and Alonso suffers

Lewis Hamilton topped the times ahead of his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas in Friday's busy and incident-filled opening practice for this weekend's French Grand Prix.

It is the third pole of the season for the English driver and the 75th of his career as he looks to close the gap in the standings to Sebastian Vettel, who will start third.

"It feels great to be back here in France".

The four-time world champion was quickest in both the morning and afternoon sessions, ending up seven-tenths clear of in-demand Australian Daniel Ricciardo who was second for Red Bull.

"This place is lovely", he said.

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 took his first pole position in France for 10 years, but said that he was not at his best in the final part of qualifying.

"I'm really happy with the pole, but I always strive for perfection and there was some time left on the track, so I still have stuff to work on", he said.

"We were strong today, the team did a really good job", he said.

Renault's Carlos Sainz was seventh fastest and Sauber's Charles Leclerc an eye-catching eighth.

There was gloom at McLaren, with last weekend's Le Mans 24 Hours victor and double world champion Fernando Alonso only 16th. In a separate incident, Hamilton had to take high-speed avoiding action when Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne was slow moving his McLaren on the racing line on the Mistral straight. He finished the race in Canada fifth, and saw Vettel turn a 14-point deficit into a one-point lead with a victory.

Brendon Hartley will start behind them for Toro Rosso due to penalties arising from a breach of the engine regulations, with the New Zealander using his fourth of the season.

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