Lewis Hamilton on pole position for French Grand Prix

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The Mercedes star has leapfrogged Sebastian Vettel who was holding onto a narrow lead in the points table.

"I was confident I could improve for the final attempt", Vettel said about his last flying lap that came up short. "In the end, P3, I'm happy, because the vehicle should be good in the race". "In the end I was reasonably happy with today's run". "You can see how close it is between us all".

The session ended in drama with three minutes remaining when Swede Marcus Ericsson crashed heavily into the barriers at the high-speed Beausset corner, his Sauber vehicle bursting into flames on one side. Hamilton was fastest in both sessions on Friday.

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Four-time champion Hamilton, in a Mercedes, finished ahead of Max Verstappen in a Red Bull and Ferrari's Kimi Räikkonen after starting from pole.

After topping qualifying for the first time since the Spanish Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton said it was great to be back at the front of the grid in France. After coming back out, though, he quickly went to the top of the timesheet.

Brendon Hartley will start the race from last place after Toro Rosso had to change his Honda engine on Friday.

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The second session was momentarily stopped while crews helped retrieve Perez's Force India after the back left wheel came off as he drove over a curb, sending the vehicle sliding across the tarmac.

"After Saturdays, I'm always here answering negative questions", Alonso, whose future at McLaren remains uncertain, told Sky Sports.

The four times champion's best time in the second was 1:32.539, with Mercedes finally giving him the updated engine after delaying its introduction in Canada two weekends ago due to a technical issue.

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But it felt like the classic damp squib, end-of-group-game. "We will know how that's going on an ongoing basis". Didier Deschamps is likely to rest some key players for the tie after narrow victories over Australia and Peru.

"I feel very grateful for a solid weekend", said Hamilton after his victory at the Circuit Paul Ricard, the first French GP in 10 years.