By Robert Haile
An exciting French Grand Prix end with a Red Bull win and double podium for Mercedes as Ferrari suffer a set back.
A hot Circuit Paul Ricard meant teams pitted early in the race as tyre management was crucial as Charles Leclerc and Ferrari looked to respond to Max Verstappen pitting for Red Bull.
A snap of oversteer sent the race leader off and for an early shower as the world champion gained the lead which he never gave up.
Race winner and championship leader Verstappen said: “We had really good pace from the start, although following around here, the tyres overheated a lot so I couldn’t really go for a move but I stayed calm and stayed close.
“It was really unlucky for Charles and I’m glad he’s OK, it could have been a really fun race because both cars were so quick. From there I just concentrated on my own race and looked after the tyres.
“The pit lane is so long here so that prevented us from having another pit stop. Today was a great day but there are plenty more races ahead of us and I just always aim for the most points possible, the fight is nowhere near over.”
There was a good battle developing between Leclerc and Verstappen as the Red Bull driver pitted on lap 17 looking to undercut the Ferrari before Leclerc crashed bringing out the safety car.
Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton had taken third off Sergio Perez and the pair pitted under the safety car ready to chase Verstappen.
The World Champion sped off and eventually won by over ten seconds with Hamilton holding off Perez.
Another safety car this one virtual when Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu stopped on track bringing all the drivers close together for the last three laps.
A shootout between Perez and Mercedes’ George Russell ensued for the final podium place with the pair coming together, no penalties, as Mercedes made it a double podium by less than one second.
After starting back in nineteenth Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz made it up to fifth with French team Alpine finishing in sixth with Fernando Alonso and eighth with Esteban Ocon as they moved ahead of McLaren in the Constructors Championship as they finished seventh and ninth with Lando Norris beating Daniel Ricciardo.
The last point went to Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll who led teammate Sebastian Vettel home in tenth and eleventh.
AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly finished twelfth with Williams’ Alex Albon, Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas and Haas’ Mick Schumacher last of the runners with Guanyu technically finishing sixteenth.
Along with Leclerc Williams’ Nicholas Latifi, Haas’ Kevin Magnussen and AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda did not finish.
Formula One’s European tour continues as they head to the Hungaroring for the Hungarian Grand Prix on July 29-31.
- Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 233
- Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) – 170
- Sergio Perez (Red Bull) – 163
- Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) – 144
- George Russell (Mercedes) – 143
- Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 127
- Lando Norris (McLaren) – 70
- Esteban Ocon (Alpine) – 56
- Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) – 46
- Fernando Alonso (Alpine) – 37
- Kevin Magnussen (Haas) – 22
- Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) – 19
- Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) – 16
- Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) – 15
- Mick Schumacher (Haas) – 12
- Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) – 11
- Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo) – 5
- Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) – 4
- Alex Albon (Williams) – 3
- Nicholas Latifi (Williams) – 0
- Nico Hulkenberg (Aston Martin) – 0
- Red Bull – 396
- Ferrari – 314
- Mercedes – 270
- Alpine – 93
- McLaren – 89
- Alfa Romeo – 51
- Haas – 34
- AlphaTauri – 27
- Aston Martin – 19
- Williams – 3