Bottas "confident" that he can continue to run upgraded Mercedes engine


Lewis Hamilton claimed the 75th pole of his career as Mercedes dominated qualifying on the French Grand Prix's return to Formula One.

"I'm really excited to come to the first Grand Prix here at Paul Ricard for a long, long time".

He later added: "I feel very grateful, grateful for a solid weekend".

Sunday's race will be the first French Grand Prix since Magny-Cours in 2008 and the first held at the southern Le Castellet circuit since 1990. Asked if he felt the penalty was fair, Bottas said: "Well, I lost quite a lot more than five seconds, for sure".

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.

Both suffered damage and, under an early Safety Car, limped to the pits for repairs.

Vettel made life hard for himself with a collision at the first corner with Hamilton's team-mate Valtteri Bottas. "In the end with P3 I'm happy because the auto should be good in the race".

Deposed championship leader Sebastian Vettel, meanwhile, endured a nightmare race as he crashed into the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas at the first corner.

"My start was too good and I ended up with nowhere to go. It is my mistake", Vettel said of the collision.

Grosjean finished 11 seconds outside of the points, five of those from his time penalty, with McLaren's Stoffel Vandoorne struggling in 12th.

"I should think it's such a grotesque amount of money it's making Toto and Niki's eyes water at the moment", said Red Bull boss Christian Horner.

Denmark's Kevin Magnussen finished sixth for the Haas team, with Bottas seventh and Carlos Sainz eighth for Renault after losing two places three laps from the end when his auto lost power.

Verstappen, who was subject to intense media scrutiny at the start of the season after a string of mistakes, made his feelings clear after the race. Others eliminated in the second round included Renault's Nico Hulkenberg, Force India's Sergio Perez, Toro Rosso driver Pierre Gasly, and Marcus Ericsson in the No. 9 Sauber.

Ricciardo streaked past Vettel in the 34th lap and both were ahead of Raikkonen after his pitstop.

Hamilton had built a 20-second lead in the 33rd lap before pitting and emerging ahead of Verstappen and, briefly, behind Raikkonen until the Finn also changed his tyres.

He fell to last after his pit stop but managed to pass the two Williams of Sergey Sirotkin and Lance Stroll in the closing laps.

"The fresher engine this weekend will be great as it will have more power than the one I used at the last race", the Briton told reporters.

Vettel made his way to fifth to limit the damage but he conceded his championship lead to Hamilton.



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