Hamilton takes pole at rain-hit, crash-marred French Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes WO9 on track during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of France at Circuit Paul Ricard

It is great to be back there.

After banging wheels with Hamilton in Azerbaijan, crashing out in Singapore, tangling with Hamilton and Verstappen at the start in Mexico, and running off the road at April's Azerbaijan Grand Prix, this was Vettel's fifth costly mistake in 12 months. "Oh, man, that's insane".

Hamilton, who claimed his 75th career pole position, enjoyed a tenth of a second advantage over his second-placed Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport team-mate Valtteri Bottas, with championship leader Sebastian Vettel third for Scuderia Ferrari at the Circuit Paul Ricard.

Ferrari responded by going out on ultra-softs -- Mercedes were on super-softs -- and Vettel jumped to second, Raikkonen to third as the rain relented and the track became faster in the final dramatic minutes of Q2. It's not like a train track, you don't just stay on the rails. "A DNF (for Hamilton) and the other guy (Vettel) winning means it swings back in the other direction so I don't expect this result will change much".

"I knew with an unbelievable lap I stood a chance but it didn't arrive".

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"Ultimately, Seb should not have not been able to finish ahead of Valtteri because he took him out of the race". "He really destroyed the whole race for himself and for Bottas".

Mercedes wanted Hamilton's future to be resolved before March's opening race in Australia, but they will head towards the midway stage of the season with two vacant seats for 2019.

Kimi Raikkonen was sixth in the second Ferrari ahead of Carlos Sainz of Renault, Charles Leclerc of Sauber, Kevin Magnussen and his Haas team-mate Romain Grosjean, who crashed during the top-ten shootout, halting the session for eight minutes. We're all on the edge, we're fighting for the world championship, and we're not pootling around. Sometimes you can go off.

A wheel then came off Sergio Perez's Force India auto at speed on the Mistral straight in the late afternoon. "It's really, really great to have this result, and a one-two".

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.

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