Hamilton wins in France to retake F1 lead

Hamilton gets new engine but Mercedes won't say which one

Hamilton hottest again in eventful second practice

Lights out at Circuit Paul Ricard came shortly after England completed a thumping 6-1 victory over Panama to secure a place in the last 16 of the 2018 World Cup in Russian Federation. "I got a great response from the crowd and I'm delighted to be here for the first time", Hamilton said to reporters. "I mean we are all going into Turn 1 as hard as you could, but when someone destroys your race through an error, it is kind of a tap on the hand". It really annoyed me and it was stupid to ask. "It's been such a long, long time". "But P3 I'm happy with because the vehicle should be good in the race".

Defending four-time champion Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes, who trails Vettel by a single point, was 12th, but did not attempt to clock a meaningful lap time.

"Our performance has usually been so-so on Saturdays, with our average position in qualifying so far this year being 13th", said Alonso.

"It feels great to be back in France -- it's a handsome place and we got a great response from the crowd". "It's been incredible teamwork".

Ricciardo was quick to point to Hamilton's new engine as a factor even before its introduction was confirmed by Mercedes.

While Hamilton was outspoken in his criticism of what he perceived as a lenient punishment for his rival, he was insistent that Vettel didn't deserve to be rebuked for the latest in an increasingly-long list of mistakes from the Ferrari driver.

"I hadn't thought about that, but that is where I want to be", he said afterwards, when he was later critical of Vettel for his crash with Bottas. "(But) we are all fighting for world championships.

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The British driver has put himself into position to boost his title defense if he can continue the dominant driving he has shown in the past two days at the track just inland from the Cote d'Azur. "It's as simple as that - sometimes you have these days, but let's see".

Analysis of Hamilton's victory from the Sky F1 team.

"I braked quite a bit later, left enough room for him to be inside still, but I think he just went and hit me". To watch England every year, I used to collect the cards, and hoped they'd win the World Cup.

The return of the French event at Le Castellet was one of the last deals completed by former commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone before Liberty took control. He won by seven seconds but it might as well have been 30 seconds - it could have been 30 seconds.

"It was good. I tried to follow Lewis".

Hamilton's pace maintained Mercedes supremacy in every session from Friday morning, but as the rain intensified in Q2 he was struggling for comfort in his auto.

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