Published: Mon, June 25, 2018
Sport | By Ruben Hill

Hamilton defends Vettel after latest error

Hamilton defends Vettel after latest error

The race was a dominant victory for Lewis Hamilton, who was chased by Max Verstappen after Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas had an incident at the first corner.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain celebrates after winning the French Formula One Grand Prix.

After a scruffy Q3 lap, Sebastian Vettel was almost four tenths adrift of Hamilton's 1:30.029 benchmark while the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo were over half a second behind.

Hamilton had topped both of Friday's practice sessions and has looked dialled-in to the Paul Ricard circuit throughout on F1's long-awaited return to France.

The race nearly finished under a virtual safety auto, caused by Lance Stroll losing a tyre from his Williams, but the precaution was lifted with half a lap to go.

Verstappen, who has delivered two successful and composed races since an emotional outburst at reporters in Canada earlier in June, relished his podium finish.

The Toro Rosso of Pierre Gasly crashed into the Force India of Esteban Ocon that did significant damage to both cars and forced them out.

Forecasts of rain never materialised in Le Castellet, but a couple of collisions - one of which ruled home hopes Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon out of the remainder - on a dramatic first lap led to the safety auto being deployed.

But after Vettel recovered to finish fifth - two places ahead of Bottas - Lauda was far from impressed.

Vettel caused chaos at the French GP after crashing into the back of Valterri Bottas as he lunged on the inside.

Alonso spun, and took aim at the Ferrari man. "It was a stupid move".

The pit stop dropped Bottas to last place and the resulting damage to the floor of his auto hindered his progression back through the field. The Finn came in one lap later to rejoin fifth soon after Ricciardo had blasted past an uneven-looking Vettel, who ran wide at Le Beausset. After the race, Vettel made no attempt to shift the blame onto his rival.

Hamilton's Finnish team mate Valtteri Bottas, also with a new Mercedes engine in his auto, was second fastest in the initial stint but seventh in the second after his vehicle developed a water leak. He stopped for new tyres on lap 33, momentarily losing the lead, before regaining it when Raikkonen stopped a lap later.

Sainz was third at the start but fell back to sixth. That is where he would remain. "I have no tyres, no brakes, and I am out of the points", the Spaniard cried.

"I feel very grateful, just grateful for a solid weekend", he said.

He is out of contract at the end of the year, and on the evidence of McLaren's miserable form, only money will stop him from quitting.

"Great work guys! I'm so happy for England as well", he said over the team radio, referring to the nation's 6-1 World Cup group win over Panama. "It is a attractive Sunday".

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