Hamilton made things look easy as he tossed his Mercedes, with a fresh new and updated power unit, around Paul Ricard to set the fastest time of the day by some margin.
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.
Saturday’s qualifying session resulted in the four-time world champion’s 75th career pole position, furthering the gap to second-place on the all-time list Michael Schumacher.
Hamilton called his run “impeccable”.
“We were strong today, the team did a really good job”, he said.
The Australian may well be waiting for Mercedes to decide whether it will stick with Valtteri Bottas, or if Hamilton were to stun the paddock by retiring at the end of 2018.
Vettel won the first two races for Ferrari, only for Hamilton to steer his Mercedes to victory in Azerbaijan and Spain and invigorate his title defense.
Max Verstappen was sat alongside Hamilton during the press conference and then asked the Mercedes driver if he thought England would “bring it home”.
Bottas credited the upgrade with the gains on the track.
“He really destroyed the whole race for himself and Bottas”. “That is going to be the story of the season”. “It would have definitely helped us in Montreal”.
A Mercedes spokesman said the plan was to have it at Le Castellet but final confirmation would not come until Friday practice. I tried to brake early and get out of it but I had no room. We can be happy with third for tomorrow (though).
The 5.8-kilometer (3.6-mile) circuit features several fast corners, including a Turn 10 that is designed for speeds of up to 290 kph (180 mph).
And there was a starring performance from rookie Charles Leclerc, who put the Sauber in eighth place on the grid.
‘It is a fairly decent track for us, ‘ said Hamilton. He told his team over the radio he was unharmed.
How the teams handle the three consecutive races, plus the back-to-back German and Hungarian grands prix, making five races in six weekends, will likely affect how aggressively Formula One pursues its aim to expand the calendar, though the under-consideration 2019 schedule already includes a new Miami Grand Prix, subject to a final deal being struck with the American city.
It’s set to be F1’s first ever triple header as the drivers compete in this weekend’s Austrian GP before heading to Silverstone for the British GP. I remember the last race at Paul Ricard in 1990, but I never got the chance to compete.