Lewis Hamilton marched to his third pole position of the 2019 Formula 1 season on Saturday by topping qualifying for the French Grand Prix, as Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel struggled to seventh place.

After trailing teammate Valtteri Bottas through final practice and the first two stages of qualifying, Hamilton dug deep to set a new track record en route to pole at Paul Ricard to head up a one-two finish for Mercedes.

Hamilton’s lap of 1m28.319s saw him beat Bottas by 0.286 seconds, with Charles Leclerc finishing over six-tenths of a second behind as the best of the rest in third for Ferrari.

Leclerc complained on multiple occasions about not being given enough space by Vettel, who abandoned his first lap in Q3 after missing an upshift.

This left Vettel with an all-or-nothing final lap in qualifying that saw him finish only seventh, leaving him in need of a fightback on Sunday.

Max Verstappen qualified fourth for Red Bull ahead of McLaren pair Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz, who locked out the third row in P5 and P6 respectively, marking the team’s best qualifying result of the year.

Behind Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo took eighth on the grid at Renault’s home race, with Pierre Gasly and Antonio Giovinazzi rounding out the top 10.

Struggles getting the Soft tyres up to temperature saw eight of the top 10 make it to Q3 on the Medium compound tyre, with Giovinazzi and Gasly squeezing through on Softs.

Alexander Albon narrowly missed out on a top-10 starting position after qualifying 11th for Toro Rosso ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, while Nico Hulkenberg wound up 13th for Renault after an error on his final lap meant he was unable to improve.

Sergio Perez took 14th for Racing Point, while Kevin Magnussen was more than a second off a place in Q3 as he languished down in P15.

Rapid track improvement at the end of Q1 caused Daniil Kvyat to drop out for Toro Rosso in 16th place, falling 10 places after taking the chequered flag. The Russian will however drop to last place on the grid after a power unit penalty confirmed on Friday.

Romain Grosjean’s difficult weekend continued for Haas as he was resigned to P17 in qualifying ahead of Racing Point’s Lance Stroll, who dropped out in Q1 for the 12th time in a row.

George Russell and Robert Kubica once again propped up the running order for Williams in P19 and P20, more than two seconds off the pace. Russell will drop behind his teammate on the grid after Williams opted to make two power unit component changes after an issue in FP3.

 

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