"I myself got an okay lap, but did not yet get a ideal lap together". "I guess I won't really know until tomorrow when everyone gets to turn their engines up whether or not you feel much difference". Sebastian Vettel missed his chance at the front row when he ran a little wide into turn 3 on his last flying lap.
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. "These last races have not been good for us but amid all this disaster I am seventh in the [drivers'] championship, so we must be doing something right".
"We definitely pulled together and have done a better job so far this weekend, but it's going to be close tomorrow".
Despite Hamilton putting a fearless face on it, Mercedes' failure to do so will leave the Brit at a disadvantage with both Ferrari and Red Bull, who are powered by Renault, already on their second-generation engines.
Ferrari young driver and Sauber race driver Charles Leclerc has been heavily linked with taking his seat for 2019 and while the Finn disappointed on Saturday in France, Leclerc impressed again to take P8 in a vehicle which shouldn't even be threatening the realms of the top ten at all. At past events he's been able to improve things overnight, but the loss of final practice to heavy rain meant that wasn't possible this week.
The British racing driver was quite untouchable during the first two qualifying sessions but seemed to struggle a bit in the final session when it actually counts. This prompted Romain Grosjean to crash his Haas, and made the final hunt for pole position more complicated. He told his team over the radio he was unharmed.
The under-pressure New Zealander had to stop his Honda-powered Toro Rosso vehicle in the closing minutes of Friday's second free practice session. That earned him a grid penalty because the team had already used its allowance of engine parts.
Both cars sustained damaged and were forced to pit for repairs.
"I was three tenths down in the first two sectors; but fortunately, I fixed my last sector and caught it back up".
"This place is attractive, 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.