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Hamilton happy with pole despite ‘so-so’ qualifying

Lewis Hamilton clinched his 75th Formula 1 pole position on Saturday after coming out on top in qualifying for the 2018 French Grand Prix.

Hamilton was over a tenth of a second faster than his team mate Valtteri Bottas, and almost four tenths ahead of title rival Sebastian Vettel. But he felt that he should have been able to get even more out of the Mercedes today.

“I’m really happy with the pole,” he insisted. “But I always strive for perfection and there was some time left on the track, so I still have stuff to work on.

“Qualifying is always tough. Q3 has not been spectacular. Q1 and Q2 were good, and then Q3 was so-so.”

Hamilton looked to have clinched pole early in the final round, only for his time to be beaten in the closing seconds by Bottas.

His own last flying lap attempt hadn’t been going well, so he needed to dig deep to see off the challenge.

“I was three tenths down in the first two sectors,” he explained. “But fortunately, I fixed my last sector and caught it back up.

“Leading the field is where I want to be, so it’s great to be back on pole.”

Hamilton’s last pole was in Spain, over a month ago. Since then he’s had difficult outings in Monaco and Montreal that have seen him lose his points lead in the drivers championship.

He needs a good result this weekend to get his campaign back on track, and today’s pole was the ideal way to get things started.

  • Hamilton and Bottas lock-out the front row at Le Castellet

“We definitely pulled together and have done a better job so far this weekend,” he said. “To be on the front is a great showing of the hard work from all the guys in my team.

“But it’s going to be close tomorrow,” he warned. “Ferrari will start the race on the ultrasoft tyres, we’re on the supersofts, so that should be interesting.

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“I will keep my head down and try to capitalise on all the hard work coming into the race,” he added. “I’m hoping the weather is good tomorrow!”

Hamilton is also hoping that the race will be more entertaining for the fans at Le Castellet than some of the more recent events which have been criticised as being too boring.

Speaking for himself, Hamilton was pleased to see the French Grand Prix back on the F1 calendar after a decade’s absence, and said that the new venue was growing on him.

“It feels great to be back in France, such a beautiful place. It’s a great responsive crowd here,” he said. “I’m really excited to come to the first Grand Prix here at Paul Ricard for a long, long time.

“The track is growing on me as well; the more you drive it, the more you get to enjoy it.”

Let’s see if he still likes the place as much on Sunday afternoon when the chequered flag is shown to the drivers – hopefully not prematurely on this occasion.

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