Despite taking pole position for the French Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton says that there was more time to gain on his final run.
Hamilton, who claimed his 75th career pole position, enjoyed a tenth of a second advantage over his second-placed Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport team-mate Valtteri Bottas, with championship leader Sebastian Vettel third for Scuderia Ferrari at the Circuit Paul Ricard.
The Brit topped all three stages of Qualifying, continuing where he left off on Friday, affirming the competitiveness of Mercedes’ upgraded power unit, introduced one race later than planned. Speaking after a pleasing day for the reigning champions, Hamilton revealed that he could have gone even quicker.
“I’m really happy with the pole, but I always strive for perfection and there was some time left on the track,” he said. “So I still have stuff to work on.
“I was three tenths down in the first two sectors; but fortunately, I fixed my last sector and caught it back up. Leading the field is where I want to be, so it’s great to be back on pole.”
It marked Hamilton’s first pole since the Spanish Grand Prix in May, coincidentally the last race he won, after he knocked Bottas off of top spot in the final moments of a thrilling session on a damp track. 2018 marks Formula 1‘s first visit to Paul Ricard for 28 years and despite the venue and layout coming under vocal criticism from drivers and fans alike, Hamilton admitted that the track is “growing” on him.
“The track is growing on me as well; the more you drive it, the more you get to enjoy it,” he added.
“This is one of the most beautiful places in the world and we have so many fans coming out here, so I’m hoping the weather is good tomorrow.”
Both Mercedes and Aston Martin Red Bull Racing cars opted to set their best Qualifying 2 times on the super-soft compound, whilst Ferrari stayed with the quicker ultra-softs. The projection is that Ferrari will be quicker from the immediate start, but the former pair have the choice to elongate their first stint – should the weather stay dry.
“Ferrari will start the race on the ultra-soft tyres, we’re on the super-softs, so that should be interesting,” Hamilton mused.
“We definitely pulled together and have done a better job so far this weekend, but it’s going to be close tomorrow. So I will keep my head down and try to capitalise on all the hard work coming into the race.”