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Hamilton delighted with pole in "simple" session

23 Jun 2018

Qualifying is usually Lewis Hamilton’s domain but the all-time pole position record holder had only secured two P1 starts in seven attempts before arriving in France. But on Saturday afternoon, he was not to be denied in a session that he casually described as “really simple”…

Hamilton beat Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas to pole by just over a tenth of a second, but was comfortable in qualifying throughout as he topped all three segments. It secured him his 75th career pole position and together with Bottas gave Mercedes their 52nd front row lockout.

“It was a good qualifying session,” said Hamilton. “I think the team have done a great job throughout the weekend. I think we have all pulled together and done a great job in putting the car where we need it, for both Valtteri and I.

“The session was pretty straightforward, it was a really simple session to be honest. I think Q1 and Q2 were particularly good and then Q3 was OK. It could always be better. But [I’m] really, really happy to have the pole.

“It’s something we have been working on for so long. And the pressure is, as you know, you can see how close it is between us all. It’s really, really great to have this result, and a one-two.”

Mercedes brought an engine upgrade to France, one race later than planned, with their non-executive chairman Niki Lauda saying the world champion team was now “back on track”.

Bottas said Mercedes “definitely needed the upgrade”, which was fitted to both works cars as well as those of their customers, Williams and Force India.

“It’s going to be a close season ahead, so I’m glad we could have it in this race,” stated the Finn. “Obviously it would have helped us in Montreal, but we are here now and now we are in the first row, so for sure that’s good.”

Hamilton was pleased to get the new specification too, but said he “didn’t feel relief” when the team opted to fit it ahead of Friday’s practice running.

“I was getting a new engine either way,” he said. “The gains, the upgrades you get now are usually so small. I’m very happy with the work that everyone has done, but that’s not the whole, entire reason we are here on the front row, so I don’t feel any relief at all.”

This is only Mercedes’ second front row lock-out of the season. The last came in Spain, where they converted that into a dominant – and as yet their 2018's only – one-two in the race.