Defending champion Max Verstappen recorded his seventh win of the season after an incident at the French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard when pole seated Charles Leclerc crashed out in the lead.
Starting from second place, the Dutchman started well at first, but not as fast as the Monegasque, who managed to build a lead of one and a half seconds after the first lap.
As the first round of pit stops approached, he seemed to be in control, but then things went awry for Leclerc when he lost the back of the Ferrari entering Turn 11 Bosse on lap 18.
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This immediately led to the safety car, with the Ferrari pilot mentioning throttle over the radio that nearly cost him the win last time in Austria, apparently to be blamed for another costly loss of points.
In an interview with Sky F1 However, Leclerc subsequently admitted that the accident was his fault, and not due to a mechanical failure.
“I said that I think I’m performing at the highest level of my career, but if I keep making these mistakes, it’s pointless to compete at a very high level. I’m losing too many points,” Leclerc said.
“Seven at Imola, 25 here because today we were probably the strongest car on the track, so if we lose the championship by 32 points at the end of the season, I will know where they came from. And that’s unacceptable, I just need to figure these things out.”
When the race resumed, Verstappen moved to the front and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton moved up to second after starting from fourth on the grid.
Despite the benefits of many upgrades for the event, the seven-time champion seemed content to settle for second place, as Silver Arrows’ lack of speed compared to Red Bull left no doubt as to who would stand on the top step of the podium. .
However, the main battle was reserved for third place between Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Pérez and George Russell’s second Mercedes.
Adding to the spice was the rapid progress of Carlos Sainz’s second Ferrari, who moved up to fifth place after starting 19th after installing a new powertrain following its dramatic breakdown in Austria two weeks ago.
The Spaniard soon killed both Russell and Pérez, who almost came to blows when the Briton made a final lunge at the Mexican, who crashed into a chicane on the straight Mistral.
As Red Bull raced through the second round area, a less than impressed Russell lit the radio, stating that he was ahead and that Pérez had to take back the seat.
However, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff stepped in to reassure an enthusiastic Russell, who saw the podium finisher finish fourth in a matter of seconds.
Things then took a new turn when Sainz headed to the pits after passing Pérez a few laps before being told to change tires to take third.
The bizarre challenge was further developed as, in addition to pitting for new tires, the Spaniard also received a five-second penalty for being released in the path of Alex Albon’s Williams during the safety car period.
This effectively eliminated Sainz from the fight as he moved into ninth position with eleven laps remaining.
Four laps before the finish line, a virtual safety car appeared: after Zhou Guanyu’s Alfa Romeo stopped at the exit of the Ste Baume turn leading to the Mistral straight.
This caused the field to slow down and the restart caught Pérez by surprise as Russell, who was less than a second behind, relegated the Mexican to fourth in an opportunistic move between 12 and 13 runs.
The first four were followed by an upset Sainz, followed by Alpine’s Fernando Alonso, McLaren’s Lando Norris and second Alpine’s Esteban Ocon, who had to overcome a five-second penalty for tagging Yuki Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri on the second lap of the Mistral. chicane.
The final point went to Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll, who crossed the finish line behind Daniel Ricciardo’s second McLaren and right in front of teammate Sebastian Vettel.
Along with his teammate who retired with injury from the encounter with Okon, Pierre Gasly ended another disappointing weekend for AlphaTauri with a 12th-place finish.th ahead of Albon, Alfa Romeo’s Valterri Bottas and Haas’ Mick Schumacher.
Despite not finishing, Zhou received 16th grade.th and the final finisher, in contrast to Williams’ Leclerc, Tsunoda and Nicolas Latifi, who faced Kevin Magnussen’s second Haas on lap 37.
As Verstappen extended his lead in the Drivers’ Championship to a whopping 63 points over Leclerc, the series will move to Hungary and the Hungaroring on 31 July for the final race before the European summer break.
Results (top 10)
- Max Verstappen – Red Bull
- Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes: +10.587 sec.
- George Russell – Mercedes: +16.495 sec.
- Sergio Perez – Red Bull: +17.310 sec.
- Carlos Sainz – Ferrari: +28.872 sec.
- Fernando Alonso – Alpine: +42.879 sec.
- Lando Norris – McLaren +52.026 sec.
- Esteban Ocon – Alpine: +56.959 sec.
- Daniel Ricciardo – McLaren: +1 min 00.372
- Lance Stroll – Aston Martin: +1 min 02,549
- Max Verstappen – 233 points
- Charles Leclerc – 170 points
- Sergio Perez – 163 points
- Carlos Sainz – 144 points
- George Russell – 143 points
- Lewis Hamilton – 127 points
- Lando Norris – 70 points
- Esteban Ocon – 56 points
- Valterri Bottas – 46 points
- Fernando Alonso – 37 points
- Red Bull – 396 points
- Ferrari – 314 points
- Mercedes – 270 points
- Alpine – 93 points
- McLaren – 89 points
- Alfa Romeo – 51 points
- Hare – 34 points
- AlphaTauri – 27 points
- Aston Martin – 19 points
- Williams – 3 points