Lewis Hamilton got back on top after a win in an incident-packed French Grand Prix. The Brit converted his pole position into a victory, taking back the Drivers’ Championship lead in the process. Meanwhile, title rival Sebastian Vettel had to settle for fifth after causing a collision on the opening lap.
Lewis escaped the carnage at the start as Vettel locked up and slid into Valtteri Bottas. The collision denied both Vettel and Bottas a chance of getting on the podium as it left the Finn with a punctured tyre, and the German with front wing damage and a five-second time penalty. Another incident occurred on the opening lap when Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly clashed with both cars suffering heavy damage, being eliminated on the spot, and triggering a safety car period.
At the restart, Hamilton comfortably retained the lead followed by Max Verstappen and Renault’s Carlos Sainz, who had gained a remarkable six places. Vettel and Bottas, meanwhile, were on a charge. The duo, having been fitted with a new front wing and right rear tyre respectively plus fresh soft tyres, carved their way up through the field. As they would not theoretically have to stop again, after fitting soft tyres, they soon found themselves in the top 10 as others dived into the pits to rid themselves of the ultrasofts or supersofts.
Lewis scored a succession of fastest laps to rapidly quadruple his lead to around eight seconds. It meant that by the time he pitted, he could comfortably rejoin ahead of Verstappen, momentarily handing the lead to Raikkonen, who had chosen to run deep into the race. Ricciardo found himself struggling with front wing damage from debris, so Kimi took full advantage of it and pulled the trigger into the chicane. Daniel took fourth, well clear of Vettel, while Sainz was set for a brilliant sixth before suffering a power problem with three laps to go.
“I feel very grateful, just grateful for a solid weekend. My guys, I’ve been with them for six years and they’re just continuously pushing the boundaries and never giving up, so I’m just forever grateful for all their work, here at the track and back at the factory. This is a great day. I enjoyed the race. The weather was good, and the fans have been crazy today, it’s been really good to see so many people here for the French Grand Prix. So for me, personally, it’s the best French Grand Prix I’ve ever had.” – Lewis Hamilton