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Lewis Hamilton relieved but puzzled with pole

Stepping out: Lewis Hamilton in practice at the Paul Ricard in Le Castellet on Friday

PARIS, France, Jun 24- Lewis Hamilton expressed his relief and puzzlement after claiming pole position for Sunday’s French GP.

After topping both of Friday’s practice sessions and dominating proceedings at the start of qualifying, Hamilton secured pole by less than a tenth of a second ahead of Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

“Q3 wasn’t a groovy lap. I don’t know why but l keep getting to Q3 and it’s just not happening. Of course I am happy but I left three-tenths on the table,” Hamilton told Sky Sports F1.

“I was three-tenths down all the way up to Turn 12. That’s frustrating. In the whole session l had half a second on everyone and with pole it was ‘phew, job done’, but it was only a tenth and that doesn’t look good on your CV!”

Hamilton also expressed his surprise at the Ferraris of title rival Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen opting to start Sunday’s race – which gets underway at 3.10pm and is exclusively live on Sky F1 – on the fast, but fragile ultrasoft tyres.

“I’m not really sure why they have gone with that tyre,” Hamilton said. “They must be confident. Either they know something we don’t or they have made a mistake.

“We will find out tomorrow.”

Hamilton will start the race on the supersoft tyres, as will Bottas and the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo.

“We can race well from fourth and fifth,” said Red Bull chief Christian Horner.

“Mercedes are gone – this tyre is really suiting their car on this surface. But we have a race with Ferrari. They have gone with a different tyre and it is higher degradation on that tyre. Hopefully that gives us more opportunities in the race.

“The front-left tyre gets quite a hammering here and if the sun comes out tomorrow it will be interesting to see which strategy will work out best.”

-By Sky Sports

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