Erm, welcome back to Formula 1, Fernando

Date published: June 24 2018 - Editor

First-lap chaos, and a very bleak return to Formula 1 for Fernando Alonso. First at Le Mans, last of finishers in France.

Here is how race day unfolded…

The French Grand Prix returned to the calendar for the first time since 2008, at the Circuit Paul Ricard. The track, in Le Castellet, last hosted a Formula 1 race back in 1990.

It is a track that has been used in testing for several different racing categories, all of which test with a different configuration on the track.

Mercedes made sure that Valtteri Bottas knew exactly which way he would be going on Sunday afternoon.

With it being the first French Grand Prix for a decade, it is also the first home race for Romain Grosjean, Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon. Renault are also back in their native land for the first time since 2008.

After the rain on Saturday morning, the clouds came back for Sunday, and it made for careful watching of the skies.

However, the official report said different just ten minutes before the start of the race.

Before the race, there was the usual pomp and circumstance, and this man.. Flying…?

The two Mercedes started on the front row with Sebastian Vettel and the two Red Bulls behind. However, the two Ferraris (P3 and P6) started on the ultrasofts compared to the supersofts for their rivals.

There was chaos at the start, as Sebastian Vettel tagged Valtteri Bottas, causing the pair to pit, and also bringing the Safety Car out.

Further back, two Frenchman retired on the first lap, as Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon collided at Turn 3.

The incidents helped the Renault team, who on their return to France, started the Grand Prix well.

For that first corner collision, Sebastian Vettel was given a five-second penalty by the stewards.

Another investigation by the stewards showed just how slow the Williams really is. Sergey Sirotkin was place under investigation for going too slowly under the Safety Car.

The Russian was given a five-second penalty for ‘driving unnecessarily slowly under the Safety Car’.

At the halfway stage, Lewis Hamilton led from Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen. Max Verstappen had made his pit stop and gone on to the softs, coming out ahead of Sebastian Vettel in P4.

Soon after, it became a double retirement race for Force India, as Sergio Perez stops in his pit box and turns off the car with suspected ‘engine issues’.

With twenty laps to go, Lewis Hamilton pitted from the lead of the race and dropped down to P2 with Kimi Raikkonen in front. Behind them, Verstappen, Ricciardo and Vettel were the top five.

Another five-second penalty was handed out. This time it was Romain Grosjean on the receiving end, for causing a collision on Lap 1.

Bottas and Vettel both pitted for a second time, with the German taking his five-second penalty in his pit box. The Ferrari man dropped down to P5, while Bottas fell all the way to P8.

Up at the front, Kimi Raikkonen overtook Daniel Ricciardo for the final spot on the podium.

 

Lewis Hamilton brought his Mercedes home to take victory to regain the Championship lead. Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen were on the podium, with Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel rounding out the top five.