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French GP: Hamilton cruises to win as Vettel hits Bottas

26 June 2018 - Motorsport

French GP: Hamilton cruises to win as Vettel hits Bottas

Hamilton finished comfortably clear of the Red Bull of Max Verstappen to move into a 14-point lead over Vettel, who finished off the podium in fifth.

That was one place ahead of Bottas, who was spun around by Vettel at Turn 1 on a chaotic opening lap.

Vettel got a great start and drew alongside Bottas on the run into the first corner, but backed out on the inside only to lock his front-left and clatter into Bottas.

That broke Vettel's front wing and gave Bottas a left-rear puncture, with both limping back to the pits to change to soft tyres – Vettel tried to carry on racing into Turns 3 and 4 and lightly tagged Romain Grosjean's Haas, although both continued.

At the same corner, Pierre Gasly lost the rear of his Toro Rosso and slid into the back of Esteban Ocon's Force India, putting both drivers out of their home grand prix on lap one.

That prompted a safety car, under which Hamilton led from Verstappen, who took to the run-off to avoid the Bottas-Vettel clash, and Renault's Carlos Sainz, who swept around the outside of Daniel Ricciardo at Turn 2 when the Red Bull ran deep into the first corner.

Hamilton started to build an immediate lead when racing resumed on lap five, with Verstappen a comfortable second as Ricciardo had to wait a few laps to reclaim third from Sainz.

The Renault slipped back further as Kimi Raikkonen recovered from a trip to the run-off to the avoid the first-corner mess.

He ran fifth for the next dozen laps or so before Vettel, who had switched to soft tyres and carved his way through the order after rejoining the tail of the field behind the safety car, made it back into the top five.

Vettel's strong pace on fresh tyres briefly put him in a podium position when Ricciardo and Raikkonen stopped around mid-distance, but with his tyres fading – and a five-second time penalty hanging over his head for the Bottas collision – he was a sitting duck.

After half a dozen laps Ricciardo, on softs, took back the podium spot by holding a tighter line through the fast double-right at Turns 10 and 11, and a further six laps later Raikkonen used fresh supersofts to clear his teammate for fourth.

Raikkonen used his tyre advantage to arrow in on Ricciardo with seven laps remaining, then launched a couple of unsuccessful attacks at the outside of Turns 1 and then Turn 3.

He made the move stick by drafting the Red Bull down the back straight into the Turn 8 chicane to steal the final podium place.

Ricciardo finished half a minute clear of Vettel, who was struggling with tyres but gifted a free pitstop when Mercedes called in Bottas for an unknown reason.

That dropped the Finn down the order but he rose back to seventh on fresh supersofts as Kevin Magnussen resisted late pressure to bag sixth for Haas.

Both drivers passed Sainz in the closing stages as he slowed with a reported loss of power, although he managed to hold onto eighth, one place ahead of teammate Nico Hulkenberg at Renault's home GP.

Qualifying star Charles Leclerc completed the point scorers for Sauber having run inside the top six after the first lap action.

Lance Stroll was a late non-finisher after his front-left tyre gave up at the high-speed Turn 10 right-hander, having completed 47 laps following an early stop under the safety car.

Sergio Perez was the only other retiree, having challenged for the points before a suspected engine problem.

FORMULA 1 PIRELLI GRAND PRIX DE FRANCE 2018 - RACE RESULT

144Lewis HamiltonMERCEDES531:30:11.38525
233Max VerstappenRED BULL RACING TAG HEUER53+7.090s18
37Kimi RäikkönenFERRARI53+25.888s15
43Daniel RicciardoRED BULL RACING TAG HEUER53+34.736s12
55Sebastian VettelFERRARI53+61.935s10
620Kevin MagnussenHAAS FERRARI53+79.364s8
777Valtteri BottasMERCEDES53+80.632s6
855Carlos SainzRENAULT53+87.184s4
927Nico HulkenbergRENAULT53+91.989s2
1016Charles LeclercSAUBER FERRARI53+93.873s1
118Romain GrosjeanHAAS FERRARI52+1 lap0
122Stoffel VandoorneMCLAREN RENAULT52+1 lap0
139Marcus EricssonSAUBER FERRARI52+1 lap0
1428Brendon HartleySCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA52+1 lap0
1535Sergey SirotkinWILLIAMS MERCEDES52+1 lap0
1614Fernando AlonsoMCLAREN RENAULT50DNF0
1718Lance StrollWILLIAMS MERCEDES48DNF0
NC11Sergio PerezFORCE INDIA MERCEDES27DNF0
NC31Esteban OconFORCE INDIA MERCEDES0DNF0
NC10Pierre GaslySCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA0DNF0

Note - Sirotkin had 5 seconds added to his race time for driving unnecessarily slowly behind the Safety Car.

2018 Driver Standings

1Lewis HamiltonGBRMERCEDES145
2Sebastian VettelGERFERRARI131
3Daniel RicciardoAUSRED BULL RACING TAG HEUER96
4Valtteri BottasFINMERCEDES92
5Kimi RäikkönenFINFERRARI83
6Max VerstappenNEDRED BULL RACING TAG HEUER68
7Nico HulkenbergGERRENAULT34
8Fernando AlonsoESPMCLAREN RENAULT32
9Carlos SainzESPRENAULT28
10Kevin MagnussenDENHAAS FERRARI27
11Pierre GaslyFRASCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA18
12Sergio PerezMEXFORCE INDIA MERCEDES17
13Esteban OconFRAFORCE INDIA MERCEDES11
14Charles LeclercMONSAUBER FERRARI11
15Stoffel VandoorneBELMCLAREN RENAULT8
16Lance StrollCANWILLIAMS MERCEDES4
17Marcus EricssonSWESAUBER FERRARI2
18Brendon HartleyNZLSCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA1
19Romain GrosjeanFRAHAAS FERRARI0
20Sergey SirotkinRUSWILLIAMS MERCEDES

2018 Constructor Standings

1MERCEDES237
2FERRARI214
3RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER164
4RENAULT62
5MCLAREN RENAULT40
6FORCE INDIA MERCEDES28
7HAAS FERRARI27
8SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA19
9SAUBER FERRARI13
10WILLIAMS MERCEDES4

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