French GP: Max Verstappen takes big step towards title as Charles Leclerc crashes out from P1

Max Verstappen took a huge step towards retaining his world championship crown on Sunday afternoon at the French Grand Prix as he took victory after Charles Leclerc crashed out from the lead.

The two title rivals sprinted off up the road and looked in a class of their own but it would not be the case that both would finish, with Leclerc making a mistake that could make challenging for the championship too much of a task to achieve this season now.

Indeed, he’s over 60 points behind the Dutchman now in the standings, with him sliding off into the barriers in a bid to keep Verstappen behind him.

Max pit before Charles with him in second place, and was then told to push hard in a bid to overtake when Leclerc came in himself.

The Ferrari man naturally had the hammer down and towards the end of the lap, pushed it too hard and found himself spinning off into the barriers.

‘Noooo!’ he’d scream down the radio, knowing how much this crash could cost him both this afternoon and in terms of the championship, with him later admitting in the media pen that the issue was his mistake and not a mechanical one for Ferrari.

His loss, though, would prove Mercedes’ gain with the Silver Arrows able to score a double podium and show genuine race pace to challenge at least the one Red Bull of Sergio Perez.

Indeed, Lewis Hamilton jumped the Mexican at the start and managed to keep him behind, whilst team-mate George Russell caught him napping after a VSC to seal third.

Perez, then, would wind up fourth as he too lost ground in the championship fight, whilst Carlos Sainz rose as high as fifth from the back of the grid after penalties, doing about as good a job as he probably could have in the Ferrari.

Away from the top three teams, the battle between Alpine and McLaren continues to intensify as they battle for fourth place in the Constructors’ standings.

Ferrari's Leclerc
LE CASTELLET, FRANCE – JULY 24: Charles Leclerc of Monaco and Ferrari looks dejected as he walks in the Paddock after retiring from the race during the F1 Grand Prix of France at Circuit Paul Ricard on July 24, 2022 in Le Castellet, France. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Fernando Alonso won it out on track this weekend, with him taking P6 ahead of Lando Norris, Esteban Ocon – who received a five-second penalty for a clash with Yuki Tsunoda – and Daniel Ricciardo, underlining that it appears it’s these two teams right now in the battle for P4.

Completing the top ten, meanwhile, was Lance Stroll with the Canadian shooting up from P15 on the grid in the early stages to tenth, a position he would keep for the rest of the race.

Verstappen now leads the championship by 63 points, and will be eager to build on that even more at the Hungarian Grand Prix next weekend.

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