Lewis Hamilton takes his 75th career pole ahead of the French Grand Prix
By: S. Harding, Xiro Xone News June 23, 2018 Updated: 12:15 PM PT
LE CASTELLET, France — Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton set the stage as he took his 75th career pole position as well as his first French Grand Prix pole in Saturday’s qualifying at the Paul Ricard Circuit.
Teammate Valtteri Bottas finished second making it a package deal and giving Mercedes their first French Grand Prix one-two and their second front-row lockout of the season.
Bottas finished 0.253s ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in third as the German driver had a scrappy final lap after he struggled in all tree sectors ending the session 0.371s off Hamilton. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen finished fourth followed by teammate Daniel Ricciardo in fifth.
Kimi Raikkonen was hindered by traffic and a small mistake in the final session left. This left the Finnish driver in sixth ahead of tomorrow's race. Ferrari and Mercedes will start tomorrow's race on different tire strategies but Hamilton looks forward to the battle when the lights go out.
“This is one of the most beautiful places in the world and we have so many fans coming out here, so I’m hoping the weather is good tomorrow. Ferrari will start the race on the UltraSoft tyres, we’re on the SuperSofts, so that should be interesting,” said Hamilton.
Renault’s Carlos Sainz finished seventh as the team prepares for battle in their backyard. Among the three French drivers on the grid this weekend, Charles Leclerc, from the neighboring French country of Monaco, finished eighth giving Sauber their best qualifying result since 2015 at the Italian Grand Prix.
“To finish qualifying in P8 is an amazing feeling, and I would like to thank the team for the job they have done,” said Leclerc.
Haas drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean both finished in the top ten after having a progressive start to the weekend. Magnussen finished 9th, however teammate Romain Grosjean lost control of his car at the apex of Turn 3 and made heavy contact with the barriers, leaving him to finish tenth.
Esteban Ocon, who had hoped to make it into the top ten at his home race, finished 11th followed by Nico Hulkenberg, who split the Force India’s in 12th, with Sergio Perez ending the day in 13th.
Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly finished 14th with Leclerc’s teammate Marcus Ericsson in 15th. Fernando Alonso, who missed the second qualifying session by 0.027s, finished 16th for McLaren.
After suffering a power unit failure, Brendon Hartley will start from 20th after qualifying 17th in the second Toro Rosso. Hartley’s penalty will see Stoffel Vandoorne, Sergey Sirotkin, and Lance Stroll start tomorrow's race 17th, 18th, and 19th.