Hamilton admits World Cup may distract him at French GP

Jun 27, 2018, 07:55
Hamilton admits World Cup may distract him at French GP

Red Bull pair Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo posted the fourth- and fifth-fastest times in qualifying.

"Really excited to be back for the first grand prix at Paul Ricard in a long, long time". "In the end I was reasonably happy with today's run".

Hamilton, who claimed his 75th career pole position, enjoyed a tenth of a second advantage over his second-placed Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport team-mate Valtteri Bottas, with championship leader Sebastian Vettel third for Scuderia Ferrari at the Circuit Paul Ricard.

However, team boss Toto Wolff hinted after the French Grand Prix - a race which was attended by Mercedes chairman Dr Dieter Zetsche - that a conclusion may finally on the horizon.

It was the third pole of the season for the 33-year-old Hamilton.

Hamilton essentially led from start to finish to retake the world championship lead in France, and for his troubles was presented with this magnificent trophy, designed by artist and sculptor Richard Orlinski.

"That wasn't too bad", said Hamilton.

"I was confident I could improve for the final attempt", Vettel said about his last flying lap that came up short.

Two-time champion Fernando Alonso was 16th and McLaren team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne 18th, sandwiching Brendon Hartley in his Toro Rosso.

The stewards awarded Vettel a five-second penalty, but the penalty had little impact on the race after the Ferrari driver managed to build up a substantial gap over Bottas - who had been nursing floor damage, and the rest of the field.

Hamilton, however, is seemingly certain to stay, and it is likely he will be partnered by Valtteri Bottas for a third year with Mercedes content that the inoffensive Finn is doing enough to retain his seat.

Good for Mercedes to hold their nerve despite the forecast for rain halfway through the race - they didn't call in their men to change their tyres or tactics.

Upon the start of Q2, the action continued with Force India's Esteban Ocon battling fellow Frenchman Romain Grosjean for the final spot.

There was also drama on track, with Swedish driver Marcus Ericsson crashing his Sauber in the first session and clambering out with the vehicle on fire.

In F1's first race in France in a decade, Hamilton quickly adapted to the unfamiliar track by posting the top times in both of Friday's qualifying sessions, while Vettel struggled to find the right driving lines.

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