Lewis Hamilton produces dominant display to win the French Grand Prix

23 Jun

Lewis Hamilton won the French Grand Prix with a dominant performance to continue his best ever start to a Formula One season.

Hamilton crossed the line a stunning 18 seconds clear of Valtteri Bottas in the sister Mercedes following an emphatic performance at the Circuit Paul Ricard.

No one could get near Hamilton
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On a perfect afternoon, the five-time world champion extended his lead over Bottas, his closest title challenger, to 36 points.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc ran Bottas close in the final stages, but stayed in third ahead of the Red Bull driver Max Verstappen.

“I have been racing a long time but it never gets old,” said Hamilton.

“I couldn’t do it without the team. We are creating history together and I am so proud to be a part of it. I am happy.

“It wasn’t easy at all. There are always things happening and we are on the edge. This has been the best start to a year so we have got to enjoy it.”

Following his heavy defeat, Bottas said: “It is something I need to have a look at. He [Hamilton] is not unbeatable, I know that, I just need to work hard.”

Sebastian Vettel took the chequered flag a distant fifth, a full minute down on Hamilton. Vettel may have claimed a bonus point for the fastest lap, but he is a morale-sapping 76 points adrift of Hamilton in the championship race.

Hamilton has now triumphed six times from the opening eight rounds, dropping just 21 points along the way.

A sixth world title, which would move him to within one of Michael Schumacher’s record, is becoming an inevitability.

The combination of Hamilton and his Mercedes machine is proving unstoppable. Here, he was unchallenged from pole position, leading every lap en route to recording his 79th career win.

Hamilton raced clear of the field in France
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The Briton requires 13 further victories to topple Schumacher’s win record. There are 13 races left this year.

Ferrari have been no match for Mercedes this season, and have endured arguably their worst weekend of the season in France.

They failed in their appeal to overturn Vettel’s penalty which lost him the Canadian Grand Prix a fortnight ago. Vettel could qualify only seventh, before making up just two places.

At one point, the four-time champion was told to go to “Plan F”. Plan A is a distant memory for the Scuderia.

In a race of rare action, British teenager Lando Norris was unable to build on his career-best qualifying of fifth.

Hamilton continues his best ever start to a Formula One campaign
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The 19-year-old novice lost out to McLaren team-mate Carlos Sainz on the race down to the opening bend, before Vettel’s Ferrari cruised past him on lap five.

Then, he was forced to nurse a suspected hydraulics issue to the line.

Norris looked as though he would hang on to seventh but cruelly lost three places on the final lap, to Daniel Ricciardo, Kimi Raikkonen and Nico Hulkenberg, finishing 10th and taking just one point.

Norris’ fellow British rookie George Russell finished last as he was beaten by Williams team-mate Robert Kubica for the first time this season.

French Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton qualifies in pole position, Valtteri Bottas second and Charles Leclerc third

22 Jun

Lewis Hamilton is in a great position to extend his lead in the Formula 1 standings after qualifying in pole position at the French Grand Prix.

The reigning champions produced a one-lap masterclass to pip Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas to top spot.

Hamilton will start at the top of the grid, with Bottas and Leclerc second and third respectively
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Formula One’s all-conquering team proved the class of the field yet again to lock out the front row, with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc a distant third, and Sebastian Vettel a miserable seventh.

British teenager Lando Norris finished an impressive fifth, the best qualifying result of his young career.

Hamilton, who is 29 points clear of Bottas in the race for his sixth world crown, has won five of the seven rounds staged this season.

And the 34-year-old British driver will be expected to add to that tally at the Circuit Paul Ricard on Sunday after claiming the 86th pole of his life – now 20 more than any other driver.

Hamilton produced when it mattered the most to get first place for Sundays race
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Bottas had appeared to hold a slight edge over his team-mate this weekend but Hamilton pieced together a fine effort to finish 0.286 seconds clear, improving his laps as the pole shootout wore on.

“I was just chipping away, and the last two laps were the ones,” said Hamilton. “I am happy I got the potential out of the car.

“We are all working our butts off out there. Valtteri had the edge through Q1 and Q2 and I was still dialling in the car, but once I got to Q3 I knew where I had to find the time.

“The first lap was fantastic. I went out for the second run, and I was on for one of the best laps I have done for a long time – I was up four and a half tenths – but it is windy out there and I lost the back end through the penultimate corner.

“I am grateful to be where I am. It is going to be a close race.”

For Vettel, his underwhelming campaign hit a new low after he could manage only seventh.

The four-time world champion, already 62 points behind Hamilton in the standings, lost control of his Ferrari through the chicane and had to abort his opening flying lap.

He failed to hook up a second lap, and crossed the line an eye-watering 1.4 seconds slower than Hamilton, and behind both McLarens.

Norris has not been fazed by Formula One life, and the British teenager continued his encouraging start by putting his McLaren fifth on the grid.

McLaren are enjoying a resurgence this year, and although they remain a long way off ending a seven-season winless run, they can be excused for feeling they are turning a corner.

Carlos Sainz finished sixth in the sister McLaren with both orange cars within striking distance of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

Indeed, Norris was just nine thousandths behind Verstappen on a day he is unlikely to forget in a hurry.

Norris’ fellow British novice George Russell qualified ahead of team-mate Robert Kubica for an eighth successive race.

The 21-year-old Englishman was nearly half-a-second clear of the struggling Pole.