Lewis Hamilton dominated Sunday’s French GP, not by massive margins but by enough to ensure a comfortable first win, while Sebastian Vettel hit Valtteri Bottas on the opening lap.
Bottas and Vettel were both forced to pit after lap 1 contact where the Ferrari driver hit the back of the Mercedes. Bottas had to pit for fresh tyres as he had a puncture while Vettel needed a new front wing.
This caused trouble for those behind with Verstappen taking second place off the track and further down Pierre Gasly diving up the inside of Esteban Ocon and instead taking both out of the race.
The Safety Car came out with Hamilton leading ahead of Verstappen, Carlos Sainz, Daniel Ricciardo, Kevin Magnussen, Charles Leclerc and Kimi Raikkonen. Vettel was P17 ahead of Bottas and under investigation for the lap 1 collision.
The race resumed on lap 6 with Hamilton and Verstappen fighting for the lead, and ultimately the win. It was a short fight, extremely short, with Mercedes power easily outpowering Red Bull’s Renault engine.
The Mercedes driver, racing an updated spec engine, was untouchable as he maintained a comfortable but not massive lead over Verstappen. Nothing, though, could halt the Brit’s charge and he raced to his third win of this season, his first in France, and in doing so took the lead in the Drivers’ Championship.
Verstappen, the first of the front runners to pit under normal conditions, was second while Raikkonen, using the supersofts in his second stint, made a late move on Ricciardo to complete the podium. Ricciardo was P4.
Vettel, with soft tyres bolted onto his Ferrari in his lap 1 stop, was inside the points on lap 11 and was running as high as P3 before he was overtaken by drivers on fresher tyres. He came in for a second stop, taking his five second time penalty for causing a collision, and returned to the action in fifth place which was where he finished.
Sunday’s result meant he lost the lead in the Drivers’ Championship with Hamilton back in front by 14 points.
Bottas recovered to seventh place.
Kevin Magnussen, Carlos Sainz and Nico Hulkenberg, P6, 8 and 9, scored points as did Leclerc. His Sauber lacked the pace needed to back up his qualifying showing and he soon found a queue of cars lining up behind him waiting to overtake the rookie. He finished P10.
The race finished half a lap after the end of the Virtual Safety Car, brought out for a late tyre failure for Lance Stroll.
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull 7.090s
3 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 25.888s
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 34.736s
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 61.935s
6 Kevin Magnussen Haas 79.364s
7 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 80.632s
8 Carlos Sainz Renault 95.089s
9 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 101.576s
10 Charles Leclerc Sauber 103.772s
11 Romain Grosjean Haas 1 lap
12 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 1 lap
13 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1 lap
14 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 1 lap
15 Sergey Sirotkin Williams 1 lap
16 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1 lap
Did not finish
Stroll Williams tyre failure
Perez Force India engine
Gasly Toro Rosso crash
Ocon Force India crash