Lewis Hamilton flies to France pole in Mercedes front row lockout

Boullier Mc Laren must focus on reliability			Image by Steven Tee  LAT

Mercedes performed a late U-turn on a decision to unleash their revised power unit at the last round in Canada which contributed to Hamilton finishing only fifth and losing his championship lead to Sebastian Vettel.

The British racing driver was quite untouchable during the first two qualifying sessions but seemed to struggle a bit in the final session when it actually counts.

Championship leader Sebastian Vettel had to settle for third after a mistake on his final lap, ending up almost 0.4s off Hamilton, and is set to start on ultrasoft tires compared to supersofts for the Briton.

The session, run in hot conditions with track temperatures hitting 48 degrees Celsius (188 degrees Fahrenheit) and a gusty wind, was interrupted when Mexican Sergio Perez's Force India auto lost a wheel at speed through turns five and six.

However, the team had been tight lipped about whether these parts were the new specification. He was unhurt and after climbing from his vehicle walked back to the pits with his helmet firmly in place, before the session resumed and Hamilton scorched to pole on his final flying lap.

The Scuderia Ferrari driver ended just under four-tenths of a second shy of Lewis Hamilton's pole setting time at the Circuit Paul Ricard, while Valtteri Bottas also got ahead of the German to make it an all-Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport front row. It's such a lovely place. "It's really stunning down here".

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"The game will be on TV here and l am sure my guys will try to keep an eye on both things at the same time - as will I". Apart from the colourful lines, it's hard to tell where you are. And the pressure is.you can see how close it is between us all. We were running the new spec engine today which felt fresh and good, but we didn't run it yet in full power, so there's more to discover.

"They have an upgrade?"

Five drivers, including Red Bull's Max Verstappen, did not complete any laps and the times were meaningless with nobody on track for some 40 minutes. "It looks like we are chasing them this weekend". His previous best qualifying performance was 13th. "Of course I am happy but I left three-tenths on the table", Hamilton later told Sky Sports F1. "It's a tricky track".

Behind the two Ferraris, Frenchman Romain Grosjean was sixth for Haas ahead of Bottas, two-time champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso of McLaren, Dane Kevin Magnussen in the second Haas and Frenchman Pierre Gasly.

Sweden's Marcus Ericsson is likely to start from the pitlane after crashing in Friday's first practice with Sauber changing his car's fire-damaged chassis.

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