Hamilton takes pole at rain-hit, crash-marred French GP

Hamilton takes pole at rain-hit, crash-marred French Grand Prix

Hamilton takes pole at rain-hit, crash-marred French Grand Prix

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain sits in his vehicle in the pits during qualifying at the Paul Ricard racetrack, in Le Castellet, southern France, Saturday, June 23.

Daniel Ricciardo, a two-time victor this season, is out of contract with Red Bull, but Mercedes do not appear interested in making a move for the Australian.

"Really excited to be back for the first grand prix at Paul Ricard in a long, long time".

In the fight for the first row is "Mercedes" completely outplayed "Ferrari".

"We were relatively fast today, in the long runs we looked a bit up and down so definitely a bit of work to do tonight, but not a bad Friday", commented the Australian.

Ferrari's championship leader Sebastian Vettel, a point ahead of the Briton after seven of 21 races, qualified in third place.

"We have all pulled together and done a great job in putting the vehicle where we need it, for both Valtteri and I", Hamilton said.

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Hamilton added: "To have this result is a great day for the United Kingdom, and I hope that I have contributed in a positive way".

The 33-year-old Englishman was a third of a second clear of Vettel, who had no answer for the Mercedes cars.

Hamilton lost his lead in the standings to Vettel two weeks ago when Mercedes couldn't deliver a planned engine upgrade on time. I remember the last race at Paul Ricard in 1990, but I never got the chance to compete.

Hamilton s Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who was second in opening practice, was hit by a water leak in the afternoon and wound up seventh after being prevented from completing the second session. "There was time left on the track but I am really happy with pole". After putting in an impressive performance in qualifying, Sauber's Charles Leclerc claimed the final points scoring position - his fourth points finish in five races.

It may be a Brit in pole, but it was a miserable qualifying for the British teams, with McLaren's Alonso and Vandoorne going out in q1 and starting 16th and 18th respectively, and the Williams of Sirotkin and Stroll in 19th and 20th.

The luckless New Zealander will start Sunday's race from the back of the grid after being handed a heavy penalty for replacing engine parts.

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