Hamilton and Bottas secure Mercedes front row at France

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F1 Grand Prix, GP France, Circuit Paul Ricardfr

Lewis Hamilton has secure pole position for the French Grand Prix, narrowly topping his team mate Valtteri Bottas. As both Mercedes topped the times, Sebastian Vettel was the closest competitor. He had to settle for third, ahead of both Red Bulls.

Minutes ahead of the start of qualifying, rain stopped, ready for the track to improve gradually.

After 6 minutes, Verstappen was the first for the top teams to set a time, soon topped by Bottas before Hamilton shaved another two tenths off that time with his flyer. Nine minutes into the session it was Raikkonen who went fastest, but with drivers continuing out on track, times continued to improve, with the drivers in the dropout zone aiming for the final minutes to take advantage of the best track conditions.

Hamilton eventually ended Q1 on top, ahead of Verstappen and Raikkonen. Haas once again seemed to be the best of the rest.

The start of Q2 was again very busy. All due to the circumstances of course, given that some drivers reported some drops of rain at the end of Q1. Both Mercedes as well as Red Bull Racing drivers opted to go out on supersoft. The Ferraris on the other hand opted for ultrasoft.

This created an interesting performance difference. Raikkonen was the first to cross the line with a 1m 32.000s. He was topped by Bottas by 8 tenths, followed by Hamilton who improved another 6 tenths on his team mate. That makes for 1.4s difference to Raikkonen.

Drivers completed several laps in order to ensure making it through, but the top guys were still properly seperated from the rest of the pack. Following the chequered flag, Gasly and Ericsson failed to save themselves. Perez abandoned his hot lap by pitting, meaning Leclerc made it firmly into Q3.

Q3 obviously saw all remaining drivers opt for the ultrasoft tyres, the softest available this weekend.

Ferrari's cars were the first out on track, but it was Bottas who went fastest, moments before Hamilton topped that again. Vettel ended up third fastest, ahead of Verstappen, Ricciardo and Raikkonen.

With that standing, the session was red flagged as Romain Grosjean came to a halt at Turn 4. The Frenchman ended up in the barriers after taking a lot of kerb on the entry of Turn 4, making him lose control of his car and slide nose-first into the barriers. Being unable to engage reverse gear, his session came to an early end.

As usual, the final laps mattered, with Leclerc and Magnussen opting to go for a single shot at the end of the session.

Valtteri Bottas crossed the line first, and ended up on top, only to be topped again by Hamilton. This kept positions intact from the first runs, with Vettel unable to match the Mercedes, ending up in third. Verstappen and Ricciardo were next up, with Raikkonen 7 tenths down on his team mate after another mistake on his most important lap of the weekend.

Results

Pos.No.DriverCarQ1Q2Q3Laps
144Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG1:31.2711:30.6451:30.02919
277Valtteri BottasMercedes AMG1:31.7761:31.2271:30.14717
35Sebastian VettelFerrari1:31.8201:30.7511:30.40022
433Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer1:31.5311:30.8181:30.70519
53Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer1:31.9101:31.5381:30.89519
67Kimi RäikkönenFerrari1:31.5671:30.7721:31.05722
755Carlos SainzRenault1:32.3941:32.0161:32.12622
816Charles LeclercSauber Ferrari1:32.5381:32.0551:32.63521
920Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari1:32.1691:31.5101:32.93023
108Romain GrosjeanHaas Ferrari1:32.0831:31.472-20
1131Esteban OconForce India Mercedes1:32.7861:32.075-14
1227Nico HulkenbergRenault1:32.9491:32.115-15
1311Sergio PerezForce India Mercedes1:32.6921:32.454-15
1410Pierre GaslyScuderia Toro Rosso Honda1:32.4471:32.460-17
159Marcus EricssonSauber Ferrari1:32.8041:32.820-18
1614Fernando AlonsoMcLaren Renault1:32.976--10
1728Brendon HartleyScuderia Toro Rosso Honda1:33.025--10
182Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren Renault1:33.162--10
1935Sergey SirotkinWilliams Mercedes1:33.636--9
2018Lance StrollWilliams Mercedes1:33.729--10