Formula 1

Hamilton celebrates on the podium.

Lewis Hamilton unchallenged for the win as Sebastian Vettel hits trouble at the French GP

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Lewis Hamilton reasserted himself back at the top of the Formula 1 Drivers' Championship after a comfortable victory at the French GP on Sunday.

The Mercedes driver led almost all of the 53 laps around the Circuit Paul Ricard to claim his third win of the season as his main rival Sebastian Vettel ran into problems at the start.

A better launch on his grippier Ultrasoft tyres allowed the Ferrari man to get alongside the two Mercedes' on the run to the first corner.

However, with nowhere to go, he would back out of making a move only to lock his brakes into Turn 1, hitting Valtteri Bottas and damaging his front wing while puncturing the left-rear tyre of the Finn.

That wouldn't be the only incident on a chaotic opening lap, as the field then dashed towards Turn 3 where Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon would collide at the right-hander taking both cars out and causing a Safety Car.

The pause allowed Vettel and Bottas to return to the pits for repairs while Hamilton led from Max Verstappen, who moving up from fourth on the grid, and Carlos Sainz making a good start for Renault.

Once the race resumed, the Ferrari and Mercedes at the back of the field started to make their way through after fitting the Soft compound tyre potentially with a look to going through to the finish.

While doing so, Vettel would be given a five-second penalty for the collision with Bottas by the stewards.

It wouldn't matter, however, as the German made his way much better through the midfield pack as overtaking into the two chicanes and at Turn 11 proved easier than expected.

Back at the front, Sainz's stint in the podium places was short-lived as both Ricciardo & Raikkonen used DRS to overtake Sainz into the Mistral chicane.

F1 Grand Prix of France

A threat of rain appeared to be developing before easing, but it did send the race into a little lull as drivers tried to look after their tyres to make them last in case the weather did turn.

Eventually, Verstappen and Ricciardo would pit from second and third and would emerge either side of Vettel, who ran fourth for a short time.

The advantage of the fresher tyres allowed the Australian to quickly catch and then pass Vettel for P4 through the long right-hander at Turn 11.

Unchallenged, Hamilton waited until he reached traffic to make the change of tyres, dropping the lead to Raikkonen for a lap or two before the Finn, who also started on the Ultrasofts compared to those around him on Supersofts, made his stop.

Using a faster compound allowed the 2007 world champion to catch and pass Vettel and then Ricciardo to claim the final podium place with Verstappen too far ahead in second.

Bottas and Vettel would stop again, with the latter taking his penalty, but such was his pace, Sebastian would emerge in fifth place.

Kevin Magnussen benefitted from a late engine issue for Carlos Sainz in the Renault to inherit sixth, beating Bottas in seventh.

The Spaniard would finish eighth just ahead of teammate Nico Hulkenberg as the French manufacturer had both cars in the points at their home race.

Finally, the star of qualifying, Charles Leclerc, made a few small errors which cost him a few positions but he would still claim his fourth points finish in five races in P10 for Sauber.

Romain Grosjean picked up a penalty for causing a first lap collision and would just miss out on points in 11th, this meant none of the French drivers scored much to the disappointment of the Le Castellet fans.

McLaren's difficult weekend also continued with Stoffel Vandoorne 12th and Fernando Alonso sounding increasingly frustrated on the radio and would, in fact, finish as the last classified runner after a late pit-stop to try and set the fastest lap.

F1 Grand Prix of France - Qualifying

Lance Stroll suffered a tyre failure with just three laps to go, entering the flat-out Signes corner causing a Virtual Safety Car in the closing stages.

The other retirement was Sergio Perez after an engine issue forced him to pit in the Force India.

Full results can be seen below:

Back at the front though, it was the perfect afternoon for Lewis Hamilton, who now regains the championship lead by 14 points over Sebastian Vettel.

There's no rest for F1 either as the teams now head straight to the Red Bull Ring for the Austrian Grand Prix in a week's time, with the Ferrari's keen for a quick response and Red Bull desperate to finally win at their home circuit.

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Topics:
Charles Leclerc
Renault
Valtteri Bottas
Sebastian Vettel
Carlos Sainz Jr.
Max Verstappen
Daniel Ricciardo
Kimi Raikkonen
Fernando Alonso
Lewis Hamilton
Ferrari
McLaren
Mercedes
Formula 1

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