F1: Hamilton Completes Perfect Sunday for England in Paul Ricard

Source: Twitter (@GPFranceF1)

Lewis Hamilton has won the French Grand Prix for Mercedes to regain the lead in the Drivers’ Championship.

At the beginning of the race, Hamilton got a good start from Pole Position and led into Turn 1.

Behind him, Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas tried to cut off Sebastian Vettel, but the German locked up and touched his rear wheel which resulted in damage on both cars and the pair needing to make an early stop.

Behind them, further chaos ensued as several drivers took evasive action to avoid a collision with Bottas.

The subsequent actions led to Esteban Ocon picking up damage on his Force India and at Turn 3, he was collected by the Toro Rosso of fellow Frenchman Pierre Gasly.

This resulted in the safety car being deployed, with Hamilton leading from Max Verstappen’s Red Bull and the Renault of Carlos Sainz Jr., with the second Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo in fourth place.

Behind them were Kevin Magnussen (Haas) and Charles Leclerc (Sauber), who both had good starts to move into fifth and sixth places respectively.

When the race restarted on Lap 6, Hamilton maintained the race lead whilst Vettel and Bottas began to make their way through the field from 17th and 18th position.

On the following lap, Ferrari’s Kimi Rӓikkӧnen past Leclerc for sixth, which left the Sauber vulnerable to attacks from Romain Grosjean (Haas) and Sergio Perez (Force India).

On lap 9, Ricciardo then moved into third by lunging down the inside of Sainz Jr. under braking for the Turn 8.

Rӓikkӧnen then took fourth from the Spaniard at the same corner a lap later whilst Vettel had got up to 11th place when he was given a five second time penalty for causing the incident with Bottas on Lap 1.

However, this didn’t halt his progress as he overtook Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault for tenth and Perez for ninth in quick succession, before going after Grosjean in the battle over eighth position.

Back at the front, Hamilton had pulled out a gap to Verstappen of 3.8 seconds on Lap 16 and set the fastest lap of 1:36.637 to extend it.

Vettel continued to carve his way up the order and past Leclerc and Magnussen in successive laps at the Turn 8 chicane to move into sixth.

In contrast, Bottas was finding it a bit more difficult to overtake and was still outside the points in 11th.

He eventually achieved this on Lap 20, forcing Grosjean out wide at Turn 10 to take tenth place.

Vettel then moved into fifth ahead of Sainz Jr., bringing the gap between himself and race leader Hamilton down to 30 seconds.

In the midfield, Leclerc ran off the track whilst pursuing Magnussen for seventh place, which then allowed Hulkenberg to catch up and relieve the Monegasque driver of eighth place.

Verstappen was the first of the front runners to make a pit stop, putting on the soft compound tyre on Lap 26 and re-joining in fourth place.

Ricciardo did the same three laps later in the sister car, but lost track position to Vettel.

Force India then ended the race early as Perez pitted to retire the car due to an engine issue.

At the end of Lap 33, Hamilton pitted from the lead to make his only stop for the Soft tyre and temporarily surrendered the lead to Rӓikkӧnen, who pitted on Lap 34.

The Iceman re-joined in fifth, well ahead of fellow Finn Bottas in sixth.

Hamilton continued where he’d left off and began to re-open to the gap to Verstappen, whilst Ricciardo used his fresh rubber to reclaim third place from Vettel.

Vettel was beginning to lose grip in the tyres and on Lap 39, team-mate Rӓikkӧnen caught up to him and got past at the Turn 8 chicane to claim fourth place.

Behind them, Bottas pitted for the second time on Lap 40 for the super-soft tyres.

An issue with the rear-right wheel slowed him down and he re-joined in ninth place, behind the McLaren of Stoffel Vandoorne.

With a 40 second gap to Sainz Jr. in sixth, Vettel made his second stop to serve his time penalty and maintained the position.

As the race approached its end, Rӓikkӧnen caught up to Ricciardo to battle over third place.

With seven laps remaining, the Ferrari driver went around the outside of the Aussie on the run up to the Turn 8 chicane and pulled off the manoeuvre to take the final step on the podium.

Three laps later, Sainz Jr. dropped from sixth to eighth, as he reported on the radio that he was losing engine power.

This elevated Magnussen into sixth place and Bottas into seventh place.

Shortly after this, the virtual safety car was deployed after the Williams of Lance Stroll suffered a tyre puncture on the run into Turn 10.

This neutralised the leading pack and allowed Hamilton to cruise home and win the French Grand Prix, ahead of Verstappen and Rӓikkӧnen.

Speaking to former Grand Prix driver Franck Montagny after the race, Hamilton took time to appreciate the effort made from his Mercedes team:

“I feel very grateful for a solid weekend. I’ve been with my guys for six years now, and they’re continually pushing the boundaries.”

Ricciardo finished fourth ahead of Vettel, whilst Magnussen held on to beat Bottas to sixth place.

Sainz Jr. claimed eighth ahead of his Renault team-mate Hulkenberg with Leclerc rounding off an impressive weekend for Sauber in tenth.

Grosjean’s points drought continues after finishing a lap down in eleventh, Vandoorne, Marcus Ericsson (Sauber), Brendon Hartley (Toro Rosso) and Sergey Sirotkin (Williams) being the final finishers.

Fernando Alonso retired late on due to a suspension failure on his McLaren.

Pos. Car No. Driver (Nationality), Team Time
1 44 Lewis Hamilton (GBR), Mercedes AMG 1:30:11.385
2 33 Max Verstappen (NLD), Red Bull Racing +7.090
3 7 Kimi Rӓikkӧnen (FIN), Scuderia Ferrari +25.888
4 3 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS), Red Bull Racing +34.736
5 5 Sebastian Vettel (DEU), Scuderia Ferrari +1:01.935
6 20 Kevin Magnussen (DEN), Haas +1:19.364
7 77 Valtteri Bottas (FIN), Mercedes AMG +1:20.632
8 55 Carlos Sainz Jr. (ESP), Renault +1:27.184
9 27 Nico Hulkenberg (DEU), Renault +1:31.989
10 16 Charles Leclerc (MON), Sauber +1:33.873
11 8 Romain Grosjean (FRA), Haas +1 Lap
12 2 Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL), McLaren +1 Lap
13 9 Marcus Ericsson (SWE), Sauber +1 Lap
14 28 Brendon Hartley (NZL), Scuderia Toro Rosso +1 Lap
15 35 Sergey Sirotkin (RUS), Williams +1 Lap
14 Fernando Alonso (ESP), McLaren Suspension Damage
18 Lance Stroll (CDN), Williams Tyre Puncture
11 Sergio Perez (MEX), Force India Engine Issue
31 Esteban Ocon (FRA), Force India Crash with Gasly
10 Pierre Gasly (FRA), Scuderia Toro Rosso Crash with Ocon