Mercedes lock out front row in France

Lewis Hamilton will start the French Grand Prix from pole position

2019 French Grand Prix, Friday - LAT Images

Lewis Hamilton set a new lap record at Circuit Paul Ricard as the Mercedes cars secured front row starts for tomorrow’s French Grand Prix.

The current champion’s time of 1:28.319 put him ahead of Valtteri Bottas, who made a mistake on his second flying lap in Q3 to cost him a chance to better his teammate’s effort.

Charles Leclerc starts third, but Sebastian Vettel struggled with handling issues and a missed gear in the final part of qualifying, leaving him down the order.

Romain Grosjean missed out in Q1 after being hampered by cars coming back onto the track after running wide before spinning on his second run, leaving him without a clean flying lap. Daniil Kvyat and George Russell were both limited in their running, knowing they’ll start at the back of the grid due to engine penalties.

Haas and Racing Point both seemed to struggle to find the right set-up for their cars, while Kimi Raikkonen ran wide a couple of times, costing the Finn a chance to join teammate Antonio Giovinazzi in the top 10.

By contrast, McLaren looked strong throughout, with both cars starting from the third row, while Daniel Ricciardo’s Renault starts alongside Vettel on row four.

Pierre Gasly squeezed into the top 10, but couldn’t match his teammate’s pace, leaving him in ninth, five places back from Max Verstappen.

Provisional qualifying result:

1 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)

3. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)

4. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)

5. Lando Norris (McLaren)

6. Carlos Sainz (McLaren)

7. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)

8. Daniel Ricciardo (Renault)

9. Pierre Gasly (Red Bull)

10. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo)

11. Alexander Albon (Toro Rosso)

12. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo)

13. Nico Hulkenberg (Renault)

14. Sergio Perez (Racing Point)

15. Kevin Magnussen (Haas)

16. Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso)*

17. Romain Grosjean (Haas)

18. Lance Stroll (Racing Point)

19. George Russell (Williams)*

20. Robert Kubica (Williams)

*Kvyat and Russell will start at the back of the grid due to penalties for taking new engine parts.

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