Hamilton records 75th F1 pole position
Lewis Hamilton has claimed his 75th Formula 1 pole position after edging out his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas in qualifying for the French Grand Prix.
Hamilton topped all three parts of the session, though faced a late challenge from Bottas who moved to the top of the timing screens with his final lap.
As the chequered flag flew, Hamilton found time in the final sector to reclaim the advantage and claim pole position.
Daniel Ricciardo will start sixth, one spot back from team-mate Max Verstappen, though Red Bull proved no match for the leading Ferrari or Mercedes.
The final part of qualifying proved an action packed affair after Romain Grosjean nosed into the wall after a spin at Turn 3.
The Frenchman lost control over the kerbs, dropping the back end before sliding haplessly into the barrier.
The red flag hurt Kevin Magnussen, Grosjean’s Haas team-mate on track and winding up for a hot lap.
Both Hamilton and Bottas had already set their early efforts, Hamilton on top with a 1:30.222s lap to provisionally top the session.
Also recording early laps were the two Ferraris and Red Bulls, though none had the measure of Mercedes.
Kimi Raikkonen abandoned his first lap following the Grosjean stoppage after a mistake early on, the Finn only sixth at the time.
The proved to be the story of qualifying for the Finn as the limited time prevented him from returning to the pits, taking on more fuel and new tyres.
An aggressive lap from Vettel saw the German run off the circuit at Turn 6, a scruffy lap eliminating the Ferrari driver from the battle for pole.
It left the two Mercedes to battle it out amongst themselves, Hamilton emerging with pole position.
Vettel ended the session third ahead of Verstappen and Ricciardo, while Raikkonen was unable to improve to start sixth.
The 10 was rounded out by Carlos Sainz, Charles Leclerc, Kevin Magnussen, and Grosjean, who failed to set a time in the final part of the session.
Light rain at the start of the second phase of qualifying saw an early flurry of activity, with most runners banking an early lap slower than they’d managed in Qualifying 1.
Conditions improved as the session carried on, the light rain halting and allowing drivers to record a representative lap time.
An incredible effort from Leclerc saw the Sauber driver progress through to the final phase of qualifying.
His previous best qualifying position was 13th on the gird, achieved at the Canadian Grand Prix two weeks previously.
Team-mate Marcus Ericsson also made it into Qualifying 2 but was unable to progress, qualifying 15th.
Also cut from the remainder of qualifying were the two Force Indias, with Esteban Ocon 10th and Sergio Perez 12th,
Between them was Nico Hulkenberg for Renault and Pierre Gasly’s Toro Rosso behind.
Williams’ disappointing season continued with its fifth double elimination from the first phase of qualifying the season, Sergey Sirotkin and Lance Stroll locking out the back row in qualifying.
Their blushes on Sunday will only be saved thanks to Brendon Hartley, who will start from the rear of the grid after taking new engine components ahead of the race.
It was also a tough session for McLaren too, with neither Fernando Alonso or Stoffel Vandoorne able to progress.
The French Grand Prix is scheduled to begin at 00:10 AEST Monday morning.
Result: Formula 1 French Grand Prix Qualifying
|4||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Renault||1m30.705|
|5||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Renault||1m30.895|
|8||Charles Leclerc||Sauber Ferrari||1m32.635|
|9||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||1m32.930|
|10||Romain Grosjean||Haas Ferrari||No Time|
|11||Esteban Ocon||Force India Mercedes||1m32.075|
|13||Sergio Perez||Force India Mercedes||1m32.454|
|14||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso Honda||1m32.460|
|15||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber Ferrari||1m32.820|
|16||Fernando Alonso||McLaren Renault||1m32.976|
|17||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso Honda||1m33.025|
|18||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren Renault||1m33.162|
|19||Sergey Sirotkin||Williams Mercedes||1m33.636|
|20||Lance Stroll||Williams Mercedes||1m33.729|