Hamilton dominates French GPposted in F124 | 06 | 2018

    LEWIS HAMILTON DOMINATED the first F1 French Grand Prix for 10 years, and left Paul Ricard having established a 14-point lead over  nearest rival Sebastian Vettel. The Ferrari driver’s challenge was scuppered at the first corner when he clashed with the Mercedes of Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

    Vettel made a great start and edged alongside Bottas on the run into the first corner. The Ferrari driver then backed out on the inside only to lock his front-left and barge into Bottas, sending the Mercedes into a spin. The impact broke Vettel's front wing and gave Bottas a left-rear puncture. Both cars limped back to the pits and changed to soft tyres.

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    Stewards handed Vettel a five-second penalty, but he still fought back to finish fifth, two places ahead of Bottas in seventh.  Red Bull’s Max Verstappen finished second, with Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen taking the final step on the podium.

    The chaotic early stages also saw the Toro Rosso of Pierre Gasly slide  into the back of Esteban Ocon's Force India. The impact immediately put both drivers out of their home grand prix on lap one, and resulted in the appearance of the Safety Car.

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    Polesitter Hamilton then led from Verstappen, the Dutchman having taken to the run-off to avoid the Bottas-Vettel clash. Behind him, Renault's Carlos Sainz Jr held third after sweeping  around the outside of Daniel Ricciardo at Turn 2 when the Red Bull ran deep into the first corner.

    When the race restarted on lap five, Hamilton quickly established an immediate lead ahead of Verstappen, closely followed by team-mate Riciardo after the Aussie reclaimed third from Sainz. The Spaniard dropped another place when he was passed by Raikkonen, and then by the quickly-recovering Vettel.

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    Ricciardo lost the final podium position seven laps from the end of the race when Raikkonen used his tyre advantage to haul the Red Bull in. After a couple of unsuccessful attacks at the outside of Turns 1 and then Turn 3, the Finn made it stick when he drafted the Red Bull down the back straight into the Turn 8 chicane to steal the final podium place.

    With Vettel struggling with a loss of grip towards the end of the race, Ricciardo held on to finish half a minute clear of the Ferrari. Mercedes then called Bottas in for a pitstop, who emerged back down the field on super softs. The Finn recovered to seventh, one place behind the Haas of Kevin Magnussen.

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    Both drivers had earlier passed Sainz in the closing stages as the Renault slowed with a reported loss of power. The Spaniard held on to eighth, one place ahead of team-mate Nico Hulkenberg at Renault's home GP.

    The final championship point went to Charles Leclerc. The Sauber driver had run inside the top six after the first lap action.

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    There was late disappointment for Lance Stroll. The Williams driver’s race ended on lap 47 when his front-left tyre gave up at the high-speed Signes right-hander. McLaren’s word also continued when Le Mans 24-Hours winner Fernando Alonso stopped on the final lap reporting a suspension issue. The Spaniard was running last at the time.

    F1 — French Grand Prix, Paul Ricard (Result):

    1. Lewis Hamilton GBR Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport 53 laps

    2. Max Verstappen NED Aston Martin Red Bull Racing +7.090s

    3. Kimi Raikkonen FIN Scuderia Ferrari +25.888s

    4. Daniel Ricciardo AUS Aston Martin Red Bull Racing +34.736s

    5. Sebastian Vettel GER Scuderia Ferrari +1m 01.935s

    6. Kevin Magnussen DEN Haas F1 Team +1m 19.364s

    7. Valtteri Bottas FIN Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport +1m 20.632s

    8. Carlos Sainz Jr. ESP Renault Sport Formula One Team +1m 27.184s

    9. Nico Hulkenberg GER Renault Sport Formula One Team +1m 31.989s

    10. Charles Leclerc MON Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team +1m 33.873s

    11. Romain Grosjean FRA Haas F1 Team +1 lap

    12. Stoffel Vandoorne BEL McLaren F1 Team +1 lap

    13. Marcus Ericsson SWE Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team +1 lap

    14. Brendon Hartley NZL Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda +1 lap

    15. Sergey Sirotkin RUS Williams Martini Racing +1 lap

    16. Fernando Alonso ESP McLaren F1 Team +2 laps

    Retired

    Lance Stroll CAN Williams Martini Racing 48 laps

    Sergio Perez MEX Sahara Force India F1 Team 27 laps

    Esteban Ocon FRA Sahara Force India F1 Team 0 laps

    Pierre Gasly FRA Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda 0 laps

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    Jim McGill

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