"It feels great to be back in France - it's a lovely place and we got a great response from the crowd". It's such a lovely place.
Privately, it is understood that Mercedes are confident their latest-specification power unit will be ready for Formula One's first return to France since 2008, but a failure to provide Hamilton with a new engine would come as a significant blow to the Englishman in his hunt for a fifth championship. "I got a great response from the crowd and I'm delighted to be here for the first time", said Hamilton, who described his final session as "so-so".
The battle of Formula One's four-times champions has ebbed and flowed, with Vettel taking back the lead in Canada after Hamilton had to make do with an engine reaching the end of its life while rival teams had upgrades.
Bottas set a 1m33.666s in the first round of flying laps in the opening five minutes, more than a second slower than teammate Lewis Hamilton's Friday benchmark.
Vettel will head into the qualifying round in south France knowing he must build upon a one point lead in the championship stakes, his 121 total now bettering that of Hamilton's 120.
He finished fifth in Montreal, a favourite track, in his worst showing of the season so far.
"The game will be on TV here and l am sure my guys will try to keep an eye on both things at the same time - as will I".
"After the first attempt I saw that we were maybe there so I knew that with a really awesome lap I would maybe have a chance but it didn't come".
That opened the door for the impressive Charles Leclerc to secure a career-best eighth on the grid behind Carlos Sainz, with Kevin Magnussen's final lap hurt by Raikkonen late in Q3 and Grosjean not setting a time.
Just as Hamilton put himself on provisional pole with a 1:30.222, the session was stopped by a red flag caused by Grosjean, who spun out of control at Turn 3 and tapped the barrier.
He will still start 10th, the highest of the three home drivers.
It was Hamilton who set the early pace in Q1 with his updated "Phase 2.1" engine, setting a 1:31.271 on his second timed lap with Verstappen and Raikkonen both two tenths behind.
Two-time champion Fernando Alonso was 16th and McLaren team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne 18th, sandwiching Brendon Hartley in his Toro Rosso.
Williams' lacklustre campaign showed no sign of improving as Sergey Sirotkin and Lance Stroll qualified comfortably slowest, half a second adrift of Vandoorne.