Max Verstappen wins the French Grand Prix to extend his F1 world title lead by 63 points over Charles Leclerc after crashing out of the race on lap 18 – as Lewis Hamilton finishes second and George Russell third
- Max Verstappen took his 27th race victory with a win at the French Grand Prix
- Starting second Verstappen produced a flawless run to take the win
- Lewis Hamilton took an impressive second place in his 300th career start
- Charles Leclerc crashed while leading the race for the third time this year
- Leclerc then took responsibility for the incident that cost him the race at Turn 11
- Carlos Sainz was in third place when he was told to pit to serve his time penalty
Max Verstappen won the French Grand Prix after championship rival Charles Leclerc inexplicably crashed while leading.
The crash on lap 18 of 53 turned the outcome of a scorching afternoon at Circuit Paul Ricard in southern France.
Verstappen took the lead and duly picked up his seventh win of the 12-race season, with Mercedes second and third thanks to Lewis Hamilton and George Russell.
Max Verstappen won his 27th Formula 1 race and his second in a row at the French GP
The result then was that Leclerc plunged 38 points behind defending champion Verstappen to 64 – a gaping gap that does alarming damage to Ferrari’s hopes of securing its first drivers’ title in 15 years.
After the accident, in the middle of the fast corner of Turn 11, Leclerc said on the radio: “I can’t cut the throttle.” We don’t know exactly what he meant. He then let out a primitive roar of “NOOOON”.
No wonder, because it was an almost unbelievable mistake – a mistake he admitted when he faced the press. Fortunately, he was unhurt and returned to the paddock crestfallen.
Charles Leclerc crashed at turn 11 while leading the race for the third time this season
“It was just a mistake,” Leclerc said.
Prior to his cerebral blackout, Leclerc appeared to have the race in his pocket, having started from pole and withstood early pressure from Verstappen, who made his first save two seconds behind the Monegasque leader.
Lewis Hamilton, competing in his 300th race, finished second, the Mercedes man’s best result of a grueling season, with Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez third.
Mercedes managed a P2 and P3 finish after George Russel overtook Sergio Perez late in the day
Hamilton could be relieved with second place after qualifying fourth – almost a second off the pace. But after reacting less decisively than Verstappen once the safety car for Leclerc’s car to recover was withdrawn.
It was over like a contest. Hamilton finished 10 seconds behind.
More drama at Ferrari: their dangerous release of Carlos Sainz on the way to the Williams, as a host of cars used the Leclerc-induced safety car to secure a cheap stop. Their composure was clearly wavering.
Lewis Hamilton finished second after starting in P4 on his 300th Formula 1 start
Sainz was given a five-second penalty for the infringement, hampering his sprint from 19th on the grid. He finished fifth.
Russell fought hard for third place afterwards. First, he tangled with Perez late. Russell wanted Perez to give him a spot “in return”. But, in truth, Russell was never ahead. The team knew it. Boss Toto Wolff said: “George is keeping his head down. You can track him down.
After a late virtual safety car, Russell pounced while Perez dozed.
Relive all the action with Sportsmail’s live blog from the French Grand Prix.
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