LE CASTELLET, FRANCE - JUNE 24: Race winner Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP celebrates in parc ferme during the Formula One Grand Prix of France at Circuit Paul Ricard on June 24, 2018 in Le Castellet, France. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

Lewis Hamilton clinched an impressive win at the French GP. Hamilton took over the top spot in the drivers’ championship with his 65th win. Max Verstappen claimed second spot. Kimi Raikkonen completed the podium places. Daniel Ricciardo finished fourth and Sebastian Vettel finished in fifth position. Kevin Magnussen, Valtteri Bottas, Carlos Sainz, Nico Hulkenberg and Charles Leclerc rounded off the top 10 positions.

Lewis Hamilton Wins The French GP

The race started under clear skies with air temperature at 25 degrees C and track temperatures at 45 degrees C at the Circuit Paul Ricard. There was a chance of rain during the race. Lewis Hamilton started from pole position. Valtteri Bottas joined him on the first row.

Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen were on the second row. Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen lined up on the third row. Carlos Sainz, Charles Leclerc, Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean lined up at the front of the grid.

Mercedes and Red Bull drivers started on the supersoft tyres. The Ferrari drivers and the rest of the drivers in the top 10 started on the softer ultrasoft tyres. Brendon Hartley started at the back of the grid because of engine penalties.

Carnage At The Start

Hamilton made a good start with Vettel picking up the slipstream behind him. As Bottas drew alongside and went in front of Vettel, Vettel locked up and tagged Bottas at the back and lost his front wing. Bottas suffered a rear puncture. More carnage at the back as Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon collided and were out of the race.

The Safety Car came out and Bottas and Vettel limped back to the pits. Both drivers joined the race at the back of the grid on the soft tyres. On the restart, the order was Hamilton, Verstappen, Sainz, Ricciardo, Magnussen, Raikkonen, Leclerc, Grosjean, Perez and Hulkenberg. Vettel was given a 5-second penalty for the first lap incident.

 

Vettel Moves Up The Field Rapidly

Ricciardo overtook Sainz to take the third spot. Raikkonen quickly got past Magnussen and then Sainz to claim P4. By lap 10, Vettel and Bottas had moved up to P11 and P13 respectively. Hamilton opened up a gap of over 2.5 seconds to Verstappen.

By lap 12, Vettel had got past Hulkenberg to get himself in the points with 10th place. Vettel made quicker progress through the field as Bottas was P12 at this point.

By lap 15, Vettel had moved up to P8. Lap 17, saw Vettel move past Leclerc into P7. Bottas was still stuck behind, just outside the points at P11. By lap 20, Vettel was P5 and Bottas was P10.

At the end of lap 20, the order was Hamilton, Verstappen, Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Vettel, Sainz, Magnussen, Leclerc, Hulkenberg and Bottas in the points. Hamilton had opened up the gap to Verstappen to over 5 seconds

Leclerc was driving a great race and challenging Magnussen for P7. But a mistake saw him go off the track and fall back to P9.

First Pitstops

On lap 26, Verstappen was the first driver among the leaders to pit and take on the soft tyres. The Dutchman rejoined 4th behind Hamilton, Ricciardo and Raikkonen. Sainz was the next driver to pit and he rejoined in 15th position. Ricciardo pitted next and rejoined behind Vettel in P5.

On lap 29, Sergio Perez retired with an engine issue. The order at the end of lap 30 was Hamilton, Raikkonen, Verstappen, Vettel, Ricciardo, Hulkenberg, Bottas, Leclerc, Grosjean,  Vandoorne and Sainz.

Among the leaders, Hamilton and Raikkonen were yet to make their pitstops. On lap 33, Hamilton pitted for the soft tyres and rejoined behind Raikkonen. On lap 34, Ricciardo on fresher tyres overtook Vettel. Raikkonen then pitted and put on the supersoft tyres and rejoined behind Vettel.

After the first set of pitstops, the order was Hamilton, Verstappen, Ricciardo, Vettel, Raikkonen, Bottas, Hulkenberg, Sainz, Vandoorne, and Magnussen.

Raikkonen Moves Up the Order to P3

On lap 39, Raikkonen on fresher and the quicker tyres overtook Vettel for P4. By lap 41 both Bottas and Vettel pitted and rejoined the race in P9 and P5 respectively. Vettel rejoined on the fastest ultrasoft tyres.

With 10 laps to go, the order was Hamilton, Verstappen, Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Vettel, Sainz, Magnussen, Bottas, Hulkenberg and Leclerc. Hamilton had a gap of over 5 seconds to Verstappen.

Raikkonen on faster tyres got close to Ricciardo who was struggling at that point. By lap 47, Raikkonen was within DRS range and overtook Ricciardo.

Hamilton Clinches a Dominant Win

With 3 laps to go, Sainz reported that he was losing power. Magnussen and Bottas swept past him as he dropped to P8.

With 2 laps to go, Lance Stroll ran off the track and shredded his tyres as he came to a stop. The Virtual Safety Car (VSC) was deployed. As the cars held position, on the final lap the VSC period ended.

Hamilton swept to victory on a good weekend for him. Verstappen and Raikkonen joined him on the podium. Vettel after the first corner incident and the penalty finished fifth.

The French GP returned to the F1 calendar after a decade with an interesting race. Hamilton now has a 14-point lead in the drivers’ championship as he heads to the Austrian Grand Prix next week.

FRENCH GP RACE RESULTS:

Pos No Driver Car Laps Time/Retired Pts
1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 53 1:30:11.385 25
2 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 53 +7.090s 18
3 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 53 +25.888s 15
4 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 53 +34.736s 12
5 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 53 +61.935s 10
6 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 53 +79.364s 8
7 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 53 +80.632s 6
8 55 Carlos Sainz Renault 53 +87.184s 4
9 27 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 53 +91.989s 2
10 16 Charles Leclerc Sauber Ferrari 53 +93.873s 1
11 8 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 52 +1 lap 0
12 2 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren Renault 52 +1 lap 0
13 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 52 +1 lap 0
14 28 Brendon Hartley Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 52 +1 lap 0
15 35 Sergey Sirotkin Williams Mercedes 52 +1 lap 0
16 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Renault 50 DNF 0
17 18 Lance Stroll Williams Mercedes 48 DNF 0
NC 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 27 DNF 0
NC 31 Esteban Ocon Force India Mercedes 0 DNF 0
NC 10 Pierre Gasly Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 0 DNF 0

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