Lewis Hamilton flies to France pole in Mercedes front row lockout

Doug Mendoza
June 24, 2018

Hamilton clocked the day's fastest lap in the morning session and followed that up by steering his Mercedes to the top time in the afternoon.

Stroll went wide at Turn 7 while Sirotkin went straight on at the Turn 8 chicane but they at least set a time, albeit 28 and 30 seconds off the pace respectively.

Formula 1 heads back to France for the first time since 2008, and returns to Paul Ricard for the first time since 1990, with the last race at the circuit seeing Ferrari's Alain Prost take the victory ahead of Ivan Capelli.

Championship leader Sebastian Vettel had to settle for third after a mistake on his final lap, ending up almost 0.4s off Hamilton, and is set to start on ultrasoft tires compared to supersofts for the Briton.

Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo, who is fourth in the standings behind Bottas, was the next quickest driver after the Mercedes pair.

The track resting in wooded hills just inland from the Cote d'Azur was basked in the Mediterranean sun and subject to gusting winds.

Sweden's Marcus Ericsson is likely to start from the pitlane after crashing in Friday's first practice with Sauber changing his car's fire-damaged chassis. The nose of the vehicle got buried in the barrier and he was unable to engage reverse.

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Minutes later, Hamilton complained his Mercedes was having trouble turning.

There was gloom at McLaren, with last weekend's Le Mans 24 Hours victor and double world champion Fernando Alonso managing only the 16th best time.

Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari), Brendon Hartley (Toro Rosso), Esteban Ocon (Force India) and Vandoorne all spun their cars onto the blue-striped run-off areas at Turn Six because of a tricky tailwind but managed to stop before hitting the barrier.

Hamilton has recently joined forces with fashion label Tommy Hilfiger, but the driver insists beating Vettel to this year's title remains his number one priority. The first attempts saw both Mercedes and Red Bull drivers advance on the supersoft tire in order to start the race on that compound, but it took some smart strategy work from Red Bull to call off its drivers on later attempts on ultrasofts as the track improved and rain stayed very light.

The session, run in hot conditions, with track temperatures hitting 48 degrees Celsius, and a gusty wind, was interrupted when Sergio Perez's Force India auto lost a wheel at speed through turns five and six. His Belgian team mate Stoffel Vandoorne was 18th.

The battle of Formula One's four-times champions has ebbed and flowed, with Vettel taking back the lead in Canada after Hamilton had to make do with an engine reaching the end of its life while rival teams had upgrades.

There will be another practice on Saturday before qualifying for Sunday's race.

Other reports by GizPress

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