Lewis Hamilton has done a lot in formula one, but on Saturday afternoon, the Briton added to his achievements by taking pole position for Sunday’s Grand Prix of France at Paul Ricard, the 75th of his career. It is also the first time Hamilton has earned the front row at this circuit, in this case ahead of Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
“Qualifying is always tough, but it feels great to be back in France,” said Hamilton to the British website, The Independent. “It is such a brilliant place. “I am really excited to come to the first grand prix at Paul Ricard for a long time.” to be on the front row is a great showing for the team.”
Hamilton dominated all sessions following a lackluster performance two weeks before in Canada. But Hamilton had to wait a while as the morning third session was canceled because of heavy rain, and even before the first session of qualifying began, there was a slight drizzle. But the weather did not play a huge part this time, and Hamilton dominated by concluding the final session with a 1:30:029 fastest lap, coming right behind Bottas on the circuit, after the Finn only had his best time stand for only a few seconds.
Both British teams, Williams and McLaren were the big surprises of the day, with the latter having both Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne exit in the first round. Both Force India’s of Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez exited one round later, along with Nico Hulkenberg.
Red Bull was in the hunt for pole, but Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo could manage only fourth and fifth, respectively, followed by Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari. The home fans had something to cheer about with Renault’s Carlos Sainz Jr. finishing in seventh, with another surprise on a more positive note, Sauber’s Charles LeClerc taking eighth. The American Haas F1 Team had their best achievement in a while as Kevin Magnussen finished in ninth and Romain Grosjean took tenth, despite an accident when the Frenchman spun on turn four and brought out a red flag with just under seven minutes to go in the final session.
Hamilton also stated that the improvements have worked, which included a brand-new engine upgrade.
“To be on the front row is a great showing for the team.” Hamilton concluded.