Lewis Hamilton is in the box seat to extend his championship lead after securing pole position for the French Grand Prix.
The world champion delivered another one-lap masterclass to see off the challenge from Valtteri Bottas in the sister Mercedes.
Formula One’s all-conquering team proved the class of the field yet again to lock out the front row, with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc a distant third, and Sebastian Vettel a miserable seventh.
British teenager Lando Norris finished an impressive fifth, the best qualifying result of his young career.
Hamilton, who is 29 points clear of Bottas in the race for his sixth world crown, has won five of the seven rounds staged this season.
And the 34-year-old British driver will be expected to add to that tally at the Circuit Paul Ricard on Sunday after claiming the 86th pole of his life – now 20 more than any other driver.
Bottas had appeared to hold a slight edge over his team-mate this weekend but Hamilton pieced together a fine effort to finish 0.286 seconds clear, improving his laps as the pole shootout wore on.
“I was just chipping away, and the last two laps were the ones,” said Hamilton. “I am happy I got the potential out of the car.
“We are all working our butts off out there. Valtteri had the edge through Q1 and Q2 and I was still dialling in the car, but once I got to Q3 I knew where I had to find the time.
“The first lap was fantastic. I went out for the second run, and I was on for one of the best laps I have done for a long time – I was up four and a half tenths – but it is windy out there and I lost the back end through the penultimate corner.
“I am grateful to be where I am. It is going to be a close race.”
For Vettel, his underwhelming campaign hit a new low after he could manage only seventh.
The four-time world champion, already 62 points behind Hamilton in the standings, lost control of his Ferrari through the chicane and had to abort his opening flying lap.
He failed to hook up a second lap, and crossed the line an eye-watering 1.4 sec slower than Hamilton, and behind both McLarens.
Norris has not been fazed by Formula One life, and the British teenager continued his encouraging start by putting his McLaren fifth on the grid.
McLaren are enjoying a resurgence this year, and although they remain a long way off ending a seven-season winless run, they can be excused for feeling they are turning a corner.
Carlos Sainz finished sixth in the sister McLaren with both orange cars within striking distance of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
Indeed, Norris was just nine thousandths behind Verstappen on a day he is unlikely to forget in a hurry.
Norris’ fellow British novice George Russell qualified ahead of team-mate Robert Kubica for an eighth successive race.
The 21-year-old Englishman was nearly half-a-second clear of the struggling Pole.
Provided by Press Association Sport
Ferrari have lost their review into Sebastian Vettel’s five-second penalty at the Canadian Grand Prix, confirming Lewis Hamilton as the race winner.
Twelve days after Vettel was demoted to runner-up in Montreal, punished for rejoining the circuit in a dangerous manner, Ferrari presented new evidence they hoped would overturn the controversial result.
But following a 35-minute presentation by Ferrari’s sporting director Laurent Mekies at the Circuit Paul Ricard ahead of this week’s French Grand Prix, the stewards took less than two hours to announce their original decision will stand.
A statement from the FIA read: “There are no significant and relevant new elements which were unavailable to the parties at the time of the competition concerned.”
The ruling of Formula One’s governing body will come as a significant blow to both Vettel and Ferrari, with Mekies having earlier claimed that the team’s evidence would prove their star driver’s innocence.
“We have requested the FIA’s right of review because we believe that this evidence is quite overwhelming when it comes to establishing that Sebastian did not breach any regulations,” he said.
Ferrari announced their decision to appeal against Vettel’s penalty immediately after the race in Canada before withdrawing their challenge four days later.
However, Article 14 of the FIA’s International Sporting Code – the Right of Review – provided them with another avenue to pursue the case if they could unearth significant fresh evidence.
The Scuderia offered what they regarded as seven new elements to the stewards, including telemetry analysis, a variety of video and still images, and GPS data from both Vettel’s and Hamilton’s cars during the incident on lap 48 in Montreal.
They also included video analysis by Sky Sports’ pundit Karun Chandhok – the former grand prix driver who made 11 appearances with a best finish of 14th – as well as footage from Vettel’s face camera released after the race.
The stewards dismissed five of the seven elements as being “available before the end of the competition.” They added that Vettel’s face camera was “new but not significant and relevant as the evidence contained in this video footage can be seen within other available video.”
Chandhok’s analysis was also deemed irrelevant and simply “a personal opinion by a third party.”
There are no significant and relevant new elements which were unavailable to the parties at the time of the competition concerned
Vettel will now head into Sunday’s eighth round of the championship in the south of France 62 points behind Hamilton.
Vettel has not won since last August’s Belgian Grand Prix – a run of 15 races – while rival Hamilton has triumphed 11 times during that period. His Mercedes team are unbeaten this season.
Provided by Press Association Sport
Lewis Hamilton is under investigation by the stewards for appearing to block Max Verstappen in second practice for the French Grand Prix.
Less than a fortnight after Sebastian Vettel was stripped of his win in Canada for rejoining the circuit in an unsafe manner, Hamilton’s incident with Verstappen will now be probed.
Hamilton ran off the Circuit Paul Ricard at the fourth bend after losing control of his Mercedes as he entered the corner.
He then came back on to the circuit with Verstappen running off the road to avoid Hamilton’s recovering Mercedes. The world champion held his left hand up to apologise to Verstappen.
Hamilton will now wait to see if the stewards take any action.
After topping the time charts in the opening running, Hamilton trailed Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas later in the day.
Bottas finished nearly half a second clear of world champion, with the Ferrari pair of Charles Leclerc and Vettel third and fourth respectively.
The Ferrari pair were six and seven tenths down on Bottas with Mercedes, who have won every race this season, again appearing to hold the advantage.
Back on track, British teenager Lando Norris finished an impressive fifth as his encouraging start to life in Formula One continued.
The 19-year-old was the only non-Mercedes and Ferrari driver to end the day within one second of Bottas’ best time.
Indeed, Norris was ahead of both Red Bulls, in Verstappen and Pierre Gasly, who was eighth, and Carlos Sainz in the sister McLaren.
Sainz finished seventh, almost six tenths slower than Norris.
English novice George Russell finished 19th, half a second clear of his Williams team-mate Robert Kubica.
Provided by Press Association Sport