Hamilton dominates in France

2018-06-27 06:01

TWO weeks ago, at the Canadian Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari wiped the floor with the competition as Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton finished off the podium.

Two weeks later the pendulum has swung again and this time towards Mercedes and Hamilton. With Red Bull almost consistently in the mix every weekend, F12018 is shaping up to be some season.

Hamilton took his first victory in France with what seemed like an easy afternoon drive to the chequered flag.

A clean start from pole position ensured the Brit the ability to control all of the 53 laps he led and also, vitally, guarantees the lead in the driver’s championship standings.

Somewhat adrift Max Verstappen completed a rather uneventful race by his standards to secure a solid second place finish for Red Bull without ever having the pace to threaten for the lead of the race.

After a difficult final part of qualifying, Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen delivered a bit of redemption and good overall pace.

An impressive and elongated opening stint on the Ultrasoft tyres kept the Finn in touch, which he followed with even better pace on the Supersoft tyre. Ultimately, it netted him the final step on the podium after a late race pass on Daniel Ricciardo, who finished fourth.

Elsewhere, Vettel recovered to fifth after a first lap clash with Valtteri Bottas had earned him a broken front wing and a five-second time penalty. While some (read Niki Lauda and Hamilton) felt the penalty wasn’t harsh enough, it’s quite a thin line as to whether most would consider it worthy of a penalty or simply a racing incident on lap one of a grand prix.

It simply depends which side of the fence you support. Nevertheless, it certainly damaged Vettel’s own race and championship position.

It was a good day with points on the board for Haas, with Kevin Magnussen finishing sixth, while Bottas eventually recovered to seventh overall. Carlos Sainz limped home with a suspected power issue in eighth while the sister Renault of Nico Hulkenberg finished ninth.

Sauber’s Charles LeClerc rounded out the points paying positions in 10th.

It was a dismal weekend for McLaren and Williams who not only failed to advance to the second part of qualifying on Saturday but also ran Sunday’s race well out of the points.

While there were some teething issues for the first French Grand Prix in a decade, it was, overall, a successful reintroduction.

The naysayers were adamant that circuit Paul Ricard is not conducive to overtaking and that the French Grand Prix would be a damp squib.

But it has delivered an exciting race with a plethora of passes, which has been lacking in the last few races of F1 2018.

Hamilton’s win means that he takes a 14-point lead over Vettel into the Austrian Grand Prix this weekend.

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