Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton eased into his fourth F1 win of 2019 in French GP, leading Valtteri Bottas and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
It was a clean start from pole-sitter Hamilton as the Mercedes driver led the way from teammate Bottas in F1 French GP at Circuit Paul Ricard as Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc went wheel-to-wheel with Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen.
Leclerc remained ahead of Verstappen as he was being chased by the Mclaren drivers with Carlos Sainz getting ahead of Lando Norris. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was seventh but had Red Bull Racing’s Pierre Gasly and Alfa Romeo Racing’s Antonio Giovinazzi.
The Italian gained a place on Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo with Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen and Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg right behind. Racing Point’s Sergio Perez, meanwhile, was handed a five seconds penalty for gaining an advantage by cutting a corner.
The Mexican did the right to go on left side of the bollard but still managed to gain places. At the front though, Hamilton had a good lead from Bottas and Leclerc, while Verstappen shed off McLaren drivers, who were then passed by Vettel who made up to fifth.
Ferrari tried a different strategy with Vettel to have him run a bit longer but the German came out behind Verstappen only. The midfield fight had Sainz in sixth ahead of Norris, well ahead of the Renault drivers who were split by Raikkonen in the process.
The loser in the pack was Gasly, who lost out to Ricciardo on track and in the pits to both Raikkonen and Hulkenberg to drop out of the points position. Meanwhile, a hydraulics issue for Norris caused for some worrying bells within the McLaren camp with Ricciardo behind.
The fight was also on between Raikkonen and Hullenberg for ninth with the German trying to use the tyre to his advantage. At the front though, Hamilton headed Bottas well to eventually make it four F1 wins in a row in French GP to extend his points advantage.
Bottas held the fastest lap point until the final lap when Vettel pitted to take it away. The Finn actually had it tough towards the end with Leclerc only 0.929s behind in the end as the Monegasque came ever close to take second away from Bottas and Mercedes.
Post-race, Leclerc clarified that Bottas found it tough to get back upto speed after a brief VSC period to get the bollard out but couldn’t get past. Behind, Verstappen came home in fourth to keep his Top 5 record in check with Vettel in fifth with the extra point.
McLaren’s Sainz was the best of the rest ahead of a four-way fight for seventh between Norris, Ricciardo, Raikkonen and Hulkenberg. Ricciardo got through Norris but it was clumsy in the chicane as both went wide at different corners.
Raikkonen got in the act but Ricciardo went wheel-to-wheel to take seventh with Raikkonen in eighth ahead of Hulkenberg as Norris dropped to 10th with the issues he was facing. The initial move made by Ricciardo on Norris was put under investigation.
Red Bull’s Gasly missed on points due to his alternate strategy in 11th ahead of Racing Point duo of Perez and Stroll as Daniil Kvyat fought against Toro Rosso teammate Alexander Albon to be 14th despite starting from the pitlane.
Having had a good Saturday, Giovinazzi’s startegy backfired like Gasly with the Italian only 16th ahead of Haas’ Kevin Magnussen and Williams’ Robert Kubica and George Russell, with the latter having to undertake an extra stop. Giovinazzi also stopped the second time.
DNF: Romain Grosjean
UPDATE: Following the post-race investigation, the stewards found Ricciardo guilty for both of his moves on Norris and Raikkonen, as a result of which, the Australian was handed two five seconds penalty which dropped him to 11th and out of points.
It promoted Raikkonen to seventh with Hulkenberg in eighth, Norris ninth and Gasly eventually scoring one point after a treacherous home grand prix. The first one was for leaving the track, re-joining unsafely and forcing another driver off the track on Norris.
The second one for Raikkonen was adjudged as leaving the track and gaining a lasting advantage passing another car. “No regrets,” said Ricciardo. “I tried. Would rather that than sit back without a heart. I am a threat of a Twitter rant. But I’ll save it. Hope everyone was entertained.”
— #MsportXtra (@MsportXtra) June 23, 2019