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.

F1 news: Lewis Hamilton wins French Grand Prix as Sebastian Vettel crashes to retake championship lead

24 Jun

A dominant Lewis Hamilton took advantage of Sebastian Vettel’s opening-lap crash to win the French Grand Prix and move back to the summit of the world championship on Sunday.

Hamilton ruled from start to finish on Formula One’s first return to France in a decade to claim his third win of the season and move 14 points clear of Vettel.

Lewis Hamilton celebrates his French GP win

Vettel smashed into Valtteri Bottas‘ Mercedes on the 210mph opening-bend charge at the Paul Ricard Circuit and he was forced to stop for a new front wing.

The German was penalised with a five-second penalty, and recovered to finish fifth, but it marked his fifth high-profile mistake in the last 12 months.

Max Verstappen crossed the line in second place as Kimi Raikkonen overtook Daniel Ricciardo in the closing stages to complete the podium positions.

“I am so happy for England,” Hamilton said on the Mercedes radio with his victory coming a mere two hours after Gareth Southgate’s side demolished Panama. “It is a beautiful Sunday.”

Hamilton later added after his 65th win: “I feel very grateful, just grateful for a solid weekend. I have been with my guys for six years at Mercedes and they keep pushing boundaries and never give up. This is a great day.

“I hadn’t thought about [leading the championship], but that’s where I want to be.”

Lewis Hamilton celebrates his French GP win

Hamilton has been in emphatic form this weekend, and after topping both practice sessions on Friday, sticking his Mercedes on pole, and then nailing the start, his win never appeared in doubt.
There was chaos behind the British driver as Vettel roared off the line, but then lost control of his Ferrari under braking at the first corner and thudded into Bottas’s Mercedes.
After banging wheels with Hamilton in Azerbaijan last year, crashing out at Singapore, tangling with Hamilton and Verstappen at the start in Mexico, and running off the road in Baku in April, Vettel was left to rue another costly error.

The four-time world champion limped back to the pits, while the helpless Bottas also had to stop for new tyres after sustaining a left-rear puncture.

Sebastian Vettel was not happy after losing his lead to Lewis Hamilton

There was drama further back, too, when two of the three Frenchmen competing here crashed out on the first lap as Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly smashed into the Force India of Esteban Ocon.

Out came the safety car, and Hamilton led from Verstappen with Carlos Sainz up from seventh to third. Vettel and Bottas were at the back following their repairs.

The race restarted on lap six, and Vettel wasted no time passing Fernando Alonso as he squeezed his way through at Turn Four.

Alonso spun, and took aim at the Ferrari man. “I touched with Vettel,” Alonso said. “I hope he has damage. It was a stupid move.”

Vettel showed no signs of damage, and began his charge back through the field. He was in the points on lap 10, and passed Sainz for fifth 10 laps later. The Ferrari had made 12 places in 14 laps.

Up front, and Hamilton, armed with his brand new engine, was cruising. He stopped for new tyres on lap 33, momentarily losing the lead, before regaining it when Raikkonen stopped a lap later.

Vettel had to stop again, too, and after making it as high as third, was back in fifth. That is where he would remain.

McLaren have endured another disastrous weekend, and Alonso did not get to the end.

After moaning about Vettel earlier in the race, Alonso was on the radio again. “I have no tyres, no brakes, and I am out of the points,” the Spaniard cried. “I am trying to do whatever. I don’t care too much.”

He is out of contract at the end of the year, and on the evidence of McLaren’s miserable form, only money will stop him from quitting.

Alonso won the last of his two championships back in 2006, but here Hamilton has taken a big step to claiming his fourth title in five years, and his fifth in all.

 

Lewis Hamilton on pole in France, Sebastian Vettel third

23 Jun

Lewis Hamilton put his Mercedes on pole position for the French Grand Prix as the crisis at his former team McLaren took another miserable twist.

Hamilton stormed to the 75th pole of his career on Formula One’s first visit to France in a decade with a dominant display at the Paul Ricard Circuit.

Hamilton finished ahead of Valterri Bottas (2nd) and Sebastian Vettel (3rd)

The British driver saw off his team-mate Valtteri Bottas by more than one tenth of a second, while Sebastian Vettel, whom he trails by a single championship point, finished third and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen fourth.

But Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne qualified 16th and 18th of the 20 runners on another humiliating day for the failing McLaren team.

Hamilton is armed with a new Mercedes engine this weekend, and the defending champion made no mistake as he edged out Bottas with his final flying lap.

The 33-year-old Englishman was a third of a second clear of Vettel, who had no answer for the Mercedes cars.

Hamilton has been armed with a new Mercedes engine for this weekend

“Qualifying is always tough, but it feels great to be back in France,” said Hamilton. “It is such a brilliant place.

“I am really excited to come to the first grand prix at Paul Ricard for a long time and to be on the front row is a great showing for the team.”

Vettel added: “It is difficult to get the right balance. I pushed too hard in the last attempt, and you end up losing time rather than gaining.

“I knew with an amazing lap I stood a chance but it didn’t arrive.”

It has been a disastrous weekend for McLaren so far

McLaren’s already troubled season descended into chaos here when a member of staff described the atmosphere at their Woking headquarters as “toxic”, branded the team’s hierarchy as “clueless”, and revealed staff are rewarded with small chocolate bars for their gruelling work.

On Friday, the team’s racing director Eric Boullier insisted he will not resign, but the decision could soon be taken out of his hands following another utterly abject display.

Both Alonso and Vandoorne were dumped out of qualifying at the first hurdle, and ended up a full three seconds slower than Hamilton.

It marked McLaren’s worst qualifying display of the season, and far from improving, they are falling back down the grid.

Indeed only Williams, another of Britain’s former giants, ensured the McLaren cars will not occupy the final row for Sunday’s race with Sergey Sirotkin and Lance Stroll 19th and 20th.

Alonso, 36, is out of contract at the end of the season, and it seems difficult to see why he would want to continue under the team’s current malaise.

Rookie Charles Leclerc, 20, continues to impress in his debut season. The Monaco-born driver hauled his Sauber into Q3 and he will start eighth.
Leclerc is on the books at Ferrari and, on the evidence of his displays this year, is now surely a contender to bump out Kimi Raikkonen at the Scuderia next term.

Elsewhere, the error-prone Romain Grosjean crashed out during the final phase of qualifying after he lost control of his Haas at Turn 4, slid across the track and into the barriers.