French Grand Prix qualifying: Hamilton takes POLE on Mercedes front row

Hamilton takes pole as Sainz claims 7th and Alonso suffers

Lewis Hamilton beats Mercedes-GP teammate Valtteri Bottas to take French GP pole

Vettel took his one-point lead two weeks ago when he won the Canadian GP.

In demand Australian Daniel Ricciardo was third for Red Bull ahead of Finn Kimi Raikkonen and his Ferrari team-mate four-time champion and current leader Vettel. It's such a attractive place.

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. "It s really stunning down here". "Really excited to be back for the first grand prix at Paul Ricard in a long, long time".

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Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has said that the tarmac run-off areas make finding reference points at the track challenging. Apart from the colourful lines it is hard to tell where the hell you are most of the time which is the part that I dislike.

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.

"They have an upgrade?" "I think it is a tricky track, not easy to get in a good ride start to finish".

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"Great work guys! I'm so happy for England as well", he said over the team radio, referring to the national soccer team's 6-1 World Cup rout of Panama in Russian Federation.

There will be another practice session on Saturday before qualifying for Sunday's race. "It s as simple as that - sometimes you have these days, but let s see".

There was drama at the start as Hamilton and Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas lined up on the front row with Vettel just behind in third.

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

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