Slideshow: F1 ace Hamilton finds French qualifying a challenge

PUBLISHED: 13:26 22 June 2008 | UPDATED: 22:21 26 October 2009

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Pictures of the French GP practice and qualifying. Pictures courtesy of www.mclaren.com

LEWIS Hamilton struggled to put together the perfect lap in qualifying for the French Grand Prix yesterday. The 23-year-old McLaren driver was third quickest around the Magny-Cours circuit behind the two Ferrari s of world champion Kimi Raikkonen and Feli

Lewis Hamilton

LEWIS Hamilton struggled to put together the perfect lap in qualifying for the French Grand Prix yesterday.

The 23-year-old McLaren driver was third quickest around the Magny-Cours circuit behind the two Ferrari's of world champion Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa.

However, Herts hero Hamilton will start 13th on the grid after his 10-place demotion as a result of his pit-lane crash in Montreal a fortnight ago.

McLaren team principal Ron Dennis admitted things didn't go smoothly for Hamilton in France.

Lewis Hamilton on the Magny-Cours circuit

But he still thinks Hamilton has the pace to challenge for points with the right strategy.

Speaking on Saturday, Dennis said: "Today's qualifying session was quite a challenging one for Lewis, since neither of his quick laps was perfect.

"Had be been able to string together an optimum lap, it's clear that he would have been capable of being quickest.

"Having said that, despite knowing that he would be relegated 10 grid places, we decided not to sacrifice a good race strategy in our efforts to be fastest and thereby line up 11th.

"So, bearing in mind that he's still 13th despite having carved out what by his own admission was a sub-optimal lap, he clearly has the potential to record a good race result."

Norbert Haug, vice president of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, added: "We will try to score points and compensate as much as possible for our handicap after Lewis's 10-place relegation.

"Both Heikki's (Kovalainen) and Lewis's race speed and strategy should be good."

Hamilton currently trails Pole Robert Kubica by four points in the World Drivers' Championship.

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