Lewis Hamilton gained a battle with Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas for pole place on the first French Grand Prix for 10 years.
Hamilton beat Bottas by zero.118 seconds in a prime 10 shoot-out interrupted by a crimson flag following a crash by Haas driver Romain Grosjean.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was third, forward of Pink Bull’s Max Verstappen.
And there was a starring efficiency from rookie Charles Leclerc, who put the Sauber in eighth place on the grid.
Mercedes again on prime due to improve
Mercedes dominated the ultimate session and Hamilton was forward of Bottas by simply zero.095secs after their first runs.
Grosjean then crashed on the fast-entry Beausset double right-hander, bringing the session to a halt whereas the Haas was eliminated.
On the ultimate laps, Bottas beat Hamilton’s earlier time, however the world champion snuck again forward shortly afterwards.
It provides Hamilton a superb alternative to reclaim the championship lead from title rival Vettel, who’s one level forward following his win in Canada final outing.
Hamilton was additional forward within the first two periods however discovered his benefit lower on the ultimate runs.
Mercedes’ first one-two on the grid because the Spanish Grand Prix got here on a weekend when the workforce launched an upgraded engine. It had been scheduled for the final race in Canada, the place the opposite three producers all had upgrades, however a reliability concern led to a delay.
Mercedes stated the two-week delay had allowed them to introduce additional reliability and efficiency.
It might not have made the distinction between pole and never, but it surely was actually a aid after a uncommon – if transient – second of fallibility from the corporate that has dominated the turbo hybrid period of F1.
The Pink Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo have been fourth and fifth, forward of the second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen.
Leclerc in a Ferrari subsequent yr?
Raikkonen’s qualifying was a narrative that has grow to be all-too acquainted. A mistake in qualifying when it mattered – for the fourth time in eight races this yr – on a day when a person extensively tipped to be changing him subsequent yr excelled.
Leclerc, a 20-year-old from Monaco and the reigning Formulation 2 champion, is a Ferrari younger driver who’s at Sauber this yr so he can study the ropes.
He has been more and more spectacular however by no means extra so than on the Circuit Paul Ricard on Saturday. He beat team-mate Marcus Ericsson by zero.8secs in second qualifying and as soon as into the highest 10 additionally edged out the Haas of Kevin Magnussen to take eighth, the perfect beginning place of his profession.
Ferrari are already recognized to be contemplating selling him to grow to be Vettel’s team-mate as early as subsequent yr and this will solely have made these probabilities larger.
Leclerc was simply behind Carlos Sainz, spectacular within the Renault in seventh place and 5 locations forward of team-mate Nico Hulkenberg.
McLaren within the mire
Whereas a brand new face is starting to ascertain himself as a possible new star, an outdated celebrity is having a painful time.
Fernando Alonso certified on 16th within the more and more recalcitrant McLaren, with team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne 18th.
It was the beleaguered workforce’s worst qualifying efficiency of an more and more disappointing yr that began with pretensions of battling with Pink Bull, who’ve the identical Renault engine.
As a substitute, McLaren seem like going backwards, regardless of their makes an attempt to enhance the automotive, and the efficiency will solely improve the stress on a administration who’re dealing with growing criticism.
What they stated
Hamilton: “Q3 has not been spectacular. Q1 and Q2 were good, but Q3 was so-so.”
Vettel: “It’s a difficult one to get the right balance, I tried to push everything in the last attempt, but looking back. I pushed too hard. You try and get a little bit here and there out the car and then it slides, you lose the line, and you end up losing time rather than gaining.”
Alonso: “Happy with the lap. This is the way it is. Already in Canada we were P15, so we were one position on the borderline, so it is not a surprise but it is very disappointing.”