Hamilton leads from start to finish in France

on
F1 Grand Prix, GP France, Circuit Paul Ricardfr

Despite some worries over tyre blistering, the French Grand Prix became straight forward affair for Lewis Hamilton and the entire Mercedes AMG F1 team. Once again, they finished 1-2, with Leclerc completing the podium for Ferrari.

Contrary to the start of the 2018 race, everybody kept their cool at the start of this year's French Grand Prix. In fact, everybody seemed so careful that almost no position changes were marked in the first lap. Carlos Sainz did get past his team mate for 5th, and Ricciardo lost two places.

Hamiton at the front didn't get threatened at all, with Bottas slotting in behind his team mate's slip stream to avoid losing a position to Leclerc's Ferrari.

Vettel too was unable to gain a position on lap one, but he did manage to pass Norris on lap 5, followed by Sainz on lap 7. The German set off to close the gap to Verstappen in front, opting for a pace more or less similar to that of Hamilton in the lead.

Meanwhile, tyre wear was beginning to play up, with Giovinazzi pitting on lap 8, changing his softs from the start to hard tyres. 10 laps later, some medium runners, including Magnussen, started to struggle as well. Both Toro Rosso cars - on hard tyres - had no problem at all to pass Magnussen in the same lap.

Gasly, the only other soft tyre runner, kept going for a lot longer, thereby considerably holding up Ricciardo, who did have medium tyres, but was unable to pass. Renault then opted to pit the Australian on lap 18, only for Red Bull to respond and pit Gasly one lap later, also to change to hard tyres. Gasly returned to the track in front of the Renault, but half a lap later he got passed nonetheless.

After the stops from the front runners, Hamilton simply went on to increase his advantage over Bottas and Leclerc. The Briton continued to up the pace, distancing Bottas at 10s around the halfway mark. That gap was mostly built in the final stages of the stint, where it seems like Hamilton had better managed the condition of his tyres.

Overall, there were very few position changes between cars on the same strategy. The battle for 6th was examplary for this, with Hulkenberg trailing Raikkonen until finally the Sauber driver was pitted, right when the Renault crew pulled a dummy to make it look like they were going to pit their German driver.

Hulkenberg did go on for several more laps, but after he pitted to change from hard to medium, he found himself once again behind the Alfa.

At the front, there was no news. Hamilton continued to lead comfortably, despite worries of some blistering on his Pirelli tyres.

Lando Norris however faced an uphill battle at the end of the race. He had been trailing team mate Sainz throughout the entire Grand Prix, but hydraulic issues first meant he couldn't use DRS, followed by shifting issues and heavier steering. The McLaren driver got under attack from Raikkonen and the two Renaults, and got passed by all three in the final lap.

Thanks to a penalty for Ricciardo after the race, Norris got promoted to 9th again, while Gasly suddenly ended up being classified 10th.

Results

Pos.No.DriverCarLapsTimePts
144Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG531:24:31.19825
277Valtteri BottasMercedes AMG53+18.056s18
316Charles LeclercFerrari53+18.985s15
433Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Honda53+34.905s12
55Sebastian VettelFerrari53+62.796s11
655Carlos SainzMcLaren Renault53+95.462s8
77Kimi RäikkönenAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari52+1 lap6
827Nico HulkenbergRenault52+1 lap4
94Lando NorrisMcLaren Renault52+1 lap2
1010Pierre GaslyRed Bull Racing Honda52+1 lap1
113Daniel RicciardoRenault52+1 lap0
1211Sergio PerezRacing Point BWT Mercedes52+1 lap0
1318Lance StrollRacing Point BWT Mercedes52+1 lap0
1426Daniil KvyatScuderia Toro Rosso Honda52+1 lap0
1523Alexander AlbonScuderia Toro Rosso Honda52+1 lap0
1699Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari52+1 lap0
1720Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari52+1 lap0
1888Robert KubicaWilliams Mercedes51+2 laps0
1963George RussellWilliams Mercedes51+2 laps0
NC8Romain GrosjeanHaas Ferrari44DNF0

Note - Vettel scored an additional point for setting the fastest lap of the race. Ricciardo originally finished seventh, but received a five-second post-race time penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage, plus an identical penalty for failing to rejoin the track safely.