Some say it was a boring race, but we beg to differ. We have witnessed fantastic speeds at Circuit Paul Ricard in beautiful South of France, and yes, even from eventual winner Lewis Hamilton. He might have the fastest and most dominant car the F1 world have ever seen, but that does not diminish his masterclass driving, showcased on the very last lap of the race, when he went for fastest lap on used harder tires only to lose it out by less than a 1/10th of a second to Sebastian Vettel's Ferrari on brand new red tires, the softest compound available in France. Here’re the weekend’s highlights:
As expected, the Mercedes teammates at front with Lewis Hamilton setting fastest lap.
With Canada's Vettel penalty so fresh on everybody's minds, the "bollardgate" issue between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen became the talking topic of the day. At the end of the session, it was Valtteri Bottas who sets the fastest lap, ahead of Hamilton, Leclerc, Vettel, and a surprising Lando Norris in the McLaren.
The other story of the day was FIA's rejection of Ferrari's right to review Sebastian Vettel's penalty as they considered there were 'no significant and relevant new elements which were unavailable to the parties at the time' during hearing. The penalty stands.
Not much action during the first quarter of the one-hour session, but then everyone came out to do qualifying runs with Valtteri Bottas setting the fastest lap with a 1:30.159, just 0.130 seconds slower than qualifying the year before. As a matter of fact, he would have qualified third with that time in 2018. Behind him came Hamilton, Leclerc, Vettel, Verstappen, and Gasly.
Mercedes continued its dominance in Formula One locking up the front row with Lewis Hamilton's 1:28.319 a new track record at Paul Ricard, and his 86th pole position in F1, just five away from equaling Michael Schumacher's record 91. Leclerc had the third fastest time, albeit 0.646 seconds behind Hamilton. Verstappen was fourth and the McLarens of Norris and Sainz locking up the third row. Vettel could not do better than seventh place on the grid.
The Grand Prix started without much drama, with pole sitter Lewis Hamilton leading the pack, but when reaching the tight right-left chicane at Turns 3 and 4, Perez locked up his front-left tire and took to the run-off, going left instead of right. The Mexican followed the rules by emerging the right side of a bollard just before Turn 5 but received a five-second penalty for gaining positions when re-joining the track. At the end of the race, Renault's Daniel Ricciardo saw an opportunity to overtake McLaren's Lando Norris on the outside of turn 8, but he left the track and re-joined at an angle that forced Norris off the track to avoid the collision. Following the incident with Norris, Ricciardo passed Kimi Raikkonen on his right, driving his Renault completely off the track, gaining a lasting advantage.
Lewis Hamilton won the French Grand Prix having led every lap of the race. His teammate finished second securing the team a 50th 1-2 finish in F1. Charles Leclerc completed the podium with Max Verstappen fourth. Sebastian Vettel finished fifth and got the fastest lap of the race and a new track record on the last lap, a 1:32.740. Lando Norris was voted Driver of the Day.
Ricciardo received two five-second penalties for the actions on Norris and Raikkonen, dropping from P7 to P11
These are the standings of the championships after France: