Lewis Hamilton has taken a dominant back to back wins at the French Grand Prix, continuing Mercedes dominance of 2019 as the team took there eighth win of the season. He led his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas by eighteen seconds with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc third.
The Englishman hooked it up brilliantly to take control into the first corner, before opening up his gap over his teammate and drove a beautiful one-stop race to take victory for the sixth time this season. Bottas was forced into a close battle towards the end of the race with Leclerc.
Hamilton was able to manage the tyres better, by the time his Finnish teammate made his first stop he was already eight seconds ahead. He then grew that to a further ten seconds by the end of the race.
The Ferrari driver closed up to Bottas during the closing stages of the races, but he was unable to mount an attack on the Mercedes, as he struggled with blisters in the closing stages. Hamilton will look to continue this momentum into next weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix and a win in Speilberg next weekend would see them equal the number of successive wins.
It was another good race for the Monacan, he has been constantly ahead of his teammate throughout the race. But, Bottas still managed to hold him off in the closing stages.
Hamilton said, “It has been a really good weekend – I have been racing a long time and it never gets old and it is such a challenge out there, and finding the edge and building the gap.”
“We are creating history together and so proud to be part of this team. I am hot. It is a beautiful day and the track is awesome and there is some technical areas. It wasn’t easy at all and everything is on the edge.”
Bottas added, “Ultimately Lewis was quicker today – I couldn’t match his pace so that is something for me to look at before the next one but I’m proud of the team and it’s important to understand the pace today for next time.”
Leclerc added, “I gave it everything, I felt OK with the car but the Mercedes were too quick early on. The first run was quite OK, and on the second run I was about tyre management and towards the end, I was catching Valtteri.”
Max Verstappen spilt the Ferrari’s as Sebastian Vettel was unable to make as much progress through the field after starting seventh. The Dutchman was unable to get past Leclerc on the opening lap, as they ran side by side through Turn Three for the first time.
Vettel then lost time in the latter part of the race. The team had planned run long into the race and then try to attack Verstappen into the closing stages, the plan was scuppered when Vettel locked a front tyre into Turn One just three or four laps after agreeing to the strategy with his engineers.
He immediately got on the radio to say they needed to pit because the tyre was too badly damaged to continue with the plan.
Carlos Sainz was sixth after McLaren looked on course for best of the rest with Lando Norris running seventh. As the race entered the closing stages, the Bristolian began to struggle in the closing stages as his car lost hydraulic pressure, a problem that affected his gearshifts and steering and prevented him using the DRS overtaking aid.
Norris ran wide in the closing stages, allowing Riccardo to close up and take sixth, Kimi Raikkonen then got passed and then the McLaren lost another place on the final lap to Hulkenberg and was heard apologising to his team on the cool-down lap.
Ricciardo was later awarded two five second penalties, given the fact the duel was the only real moment of entertainment all afternoon. Stewarding remaining in the spotlight after the row which emerged in Canada, with many hoping it is not another race decided by the stewards.
The first penalty was for the battle for seventh place with Norris and Raikkonen which saw him twice go off the track, firstly while battling the McLaren driver at Turns 8/9, and the second while trying to pass the Alfa Romeo on the straight after that.
None of the French drivers had a good afternoon, Pierre Gasly struggling to keep his tyres alive finishing the race eleventh after starting on the soft tyres. Gasly struggling to keep the tyres alive in the opening stint and faded further after his pit-stop.
Romain Grosjean faired no better, the Haas driver the only retirement in the race. He was forced to stop the car with six laps to go. Sergio Perez was twelfth ahead of teammate Lance Stroll, the two Toro Rosso’s of Daniil Kvyat and Alex Albon.
Robert Kubica finally beat George Russell to the end of a race, but his rookie teammate was forced to pit on two occasions instead of the standard one.