Hamilton fastest in French Grand Prix practice

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

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

It s always a challenge when you come to a new circuit, but you re constantly learning new things and I love the challenge of trying to get into the swing of it before everyone else.

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel was third, ahead of Red Bull's Max Verstappen.

After topping qualifying for the first time since the Spanish Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton said it was great to be back at the front of the grid in France.

Hamilton ahead of team-mate Bottas and issued 75-th pole in his career and the first for 10 years in France.

"It feels great to be back in France, we've got a great response from the crowd here", Hamilton said after the session.

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

The track was slippery in the final session of qualifying after a few drops of rain fell early on.

"I knew with an wonderful lap I stood a chance but it didn't arrive".

But Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne qualified 16th and 18th of the 20 runners on another humiliating day for the failing McLaren team.

Brendon Hartley will start the race from last place after Toro Rosso had to change his Honda engine on Friday.

Verstappen and Raikkonen joined Hamilton on the podium, Vettel recovered from a first lap incident with Bottas to finish fifth.

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. Both men were clearly making best use of the new upgraded Mercedes engines.

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

Hamilton followed and, after the first flying runs, he and Bottas topped the times before the session was red-flagged when Grosjean crashed at Turn Three.

Marcus Ericsson, who had a high-speed crash in his Sauber at the end of the morning session, was unable to run as his auto, which had burst into flames, was not repaired in time.

He was unhurt and after climbing from his auto walked back to the pits with his helmet firmly in place, before the session resumed and Hamilton scorched to pole on his final flying lap.

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