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Lewis Hamilton on pole position for French Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton on pole position for French Grand Prix

Hamilton is looking to take back the lead in the F1 world drivers' championship after falling behind Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel by one point last time out at the Canadian Grand Prix.

"The new engine feels clean and fresh", said Hamilton.

"Overall, it was a good session and now we need to carry on this performance through the weekend".

A wheel then came off Sergio Perez's Force India vehicle at speed on the Mistral straight in the late afternoon. He was unhurt, but the session was red-flagged to a halt temporarily.

Hamilton was the first driver to dip into the 1:33s and then clocked 1:32.539 to move seven-tenths clear of Ricciardo at the top.

"This place is attractive, it's really stunning down here", Hamilton said of a circuit that last hosted a grand prix in 1990 and represents a new challenge for a man who has won everywhere else on the calendar. "It s really stunning down here".

Paul Ricard is a great facility, but it is a circuit that does not come without criticism.

"There s a lot of different lines you can take and it s tricky to find reference points out on track". Apart from the colourful lines it is hard to tell where the hell you are most of the time which is the part that I dislike.

Hamilton benefited from an engine upgrade that Mercedes failed to roll out in the last round when the British driver lost his lead to Vettel.

"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".

There will be another practice session on Saturday before qualifying for Sunday's race. "In the end, P3, I'm happy, because the auto should be good in the race".

There was drama at the start as Hamilton and Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas lined up on the front row with Vettel just behind in third.

The morning session ended with a scare for Sauber's Marcus Ericsson after his auto burst into flames when he spun out of control and slammed into a barrier.

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