Hertfordshire's Lewis Hamilton in practice for French F1 Grand Prix

Hamilton takes pole as Sainz claims 7th and Alonso suffers

"My desire to win this championship is greater than it's ever been", Hamilton said in an interview with Paper Magazine.

"This place is handsome, 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.

Hamilton and Bottas, along with Lance Stroll, Sergey Sirotkin, Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon all fitted their second internal combustion engine, turbocharger and MGU-H of the season ahead of Friday's two 90-minute sessions.

Four-time champion Hamilton, in a Mercedes, finished ahead of Max Verstappen in a Red Bull and Ferrari's Kimi Räikkonen after starting from pole.

Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton is hoping for a power-boost and continued reliability this weekend as he and Mercedes bid to overcome Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari.

A last-minute "quality" concern made Mercedes hold off on bringing their upgrade to the last race in Canada - unlike rivals Ferrari, Renault and Honda.

"It's a difficult one to get the right balance, I tried hard to give everything in the last attempt, and looking back, I pushed too hard", Vettel said after the session.

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"We were strong today, the team did a really good job", he said.

The Renault-powered Red Bulls were Mercedes' closest challengers as Ferrari languished nearly a second off the pace across both sessions.

Hamilton will lead the sport's return to France as the Paul Ricard circuit plays host to its first race since 1990, and the country's first grand prix in a decade.

He will still start 10th, the highest of the three home drivers.

Spain's double world champion Fernando Alonso, victor at the Le Mans 24 Hours with Toyota last weekend, came down to earth with a bump in 16th place with McLaren team mate Stoffel Vandoorne 19th.

Vettel was sanguine about his performance and potential in qualifying on Saturday. To their dismay, McLaren's Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne were both stuck off of the pace and failed to make the top-15, surrendering to 16th and 18th best respectively. Toro Rosso's Brendon Hartley wedged between the two McLarens and was 17th fastest.

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