21/04/2024

Max Verstappen celebrates after winning the French Grand Prix. Photo: @F1/Twitter.

Max Verstappen has continued his world title defence, winning his seventh race of the year at the French Grand Prix, while Aussie Daniel Ricciardo had an uneventful day finishing ninth.

Max Verstappen has won his seventh race of the season, taking out the French Grand Prix to continue his world title defence.

The Dutchmen has now extended his lead to 63 points over Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in the Drivers’ Championship.

Starting the race in second place behind Leclerc, Verstappen was determined to make sure Ferrari did not win a third consecutive race, keeping the pressure on the 24 year old.

Lap six was the first time it looked like Verstappen could move into first, using the DRS to try and pass Leclerc however ran out of room. With Leclerc proving difficult to pass, Red Bull opted to try an undercut and therefore pitted Verstappen on lap 17.

Just one lap later in a crazy turn of events, Leclerc crashed into the barrier on turn 11 therefore ending his race. This allowed Verstappen to get into pole, where he remained for the rest of the race to win the Grand Prix, with no one able to offer any real challenge.

The rest of the podium featured two Mercedes, with Lewis Hamilton coming second and George Russell in third.

With Red Bull teammate, Sergio Perez coming in fourth, Red Bull further extended its lead in the Constructors Championship to 82 points over Ferrari.

The last time Red Bull won both the Drivers and Constructors Championship was back in 2013 with Sebastian Vettel.

Ricciardo earns points

McLaren had another underwhelming race weekend at Paul Ricard, scoring in the points again however both Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris were unable to improve from where they started the race.

Ricciardo finished in ninth place after starting in the same position, while Norris dropped from fifth to finish in seventh.

The team earned eight points from the result however they have now fallen to fifth in the Constructors Championship having been overtaken by Alpine following a sixth and eighth place result for them in France.

In somewhat positive news, Aussie Ricciardo for the first time this season scored points in back to back races. The result marks the fourth time he has finished in the points, bringing his total to 19.

For reference after 12 races last season Ricciardo had 56 points, having only missed out on points three times.

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Hamilton celebrates 300th race in style

The French Grand Prix was a special occasion for seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton, with it being his 300th race start in Formula 1.

Hamilton joins an illustrious group as only the sixth driver in history to reach the milestone, with the others being Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso, Rubens Barrichello, Jenson Button and Michael Schumacher.

It was a race to remember for the Brit coming in second place following a fantastic start. Hamilton was quick to react when the race began, sneaking past Perez and into third place.

Even with Red Bull having the faster straight line speed, Hamilton was able to slowly extend the gap between him and Perez to comfortable sit in third place. With Leclerc’s retirement, Hamilton moved up into second place able to hold strong to earn himself 18 points and his fourth consecutive podium finish this season.

Teammate George Russell was just as impressive, starting in sixth place to finish third.

Russell’s race was relatively uneventful, following behind the top three for the majority of the race. With a virtual safety car being implemented on lap 50, following Zhou Guanyu stopping on the side of the track, Russell used this to his advantage.

With the virtual safety car ending the following lap, Russell was quick to react and get back to normal racing speed, able to sneak past Perez at the final hour and onto the podium.

The result was Russell’s fourth podium of the season and Mercedes’ first double podium finish of 2022.

Leclerc disaster, Sainz recovers

Having been the fastest car throughout the practice and qualifying sessions, Ferrari would have had a high level of confidence that they could leave France with another Grand Prix win.

Charles Leclerc looked in a commanding position in the race, able to show early that he had stronger pace than Verstappen, sitting in first place for the opening 17 laps.

Disaster struck on the 18th lap with Leclerc losing control of his car on turn 11 and crashing into the tyre barrier, forcing him to retire from the race.

This is the third time this season that Leclerc has been forced to retire from a Grand Prix while leading it, with it also happening in Spain and Azerbaijan.

Ferrari will not leave France completely disappointed after Carlos Sainz came from 19th to finish fifth. Despite the strong result, many were wondering what could have been for Ferrari after they pitted Sainz with 10 laps to go even though he was in third place at the time.

Sainz had to start the race down the bottom of the grid after receiving a grid penalty for exceeding his allocation of control electronics. Even with the disadvantage, Sainz made quick work climbing up the grid, getting into the top 10 by lap 13.

On his lap 19 pit stop, Sainz left the pits unsafely and therefore was handed a five-second penalty, which he had to serve the next time he pitted.

Having continued to work his way up the grid, Sainz soon found himself on the tail of then third placed Perez, who he was able to sneak past at the end of lap 41 going into lap 42.

In strange circumstances, Ferrari called Sainz into the pits shortly afterwards so he could serve his five-second penalty. What was bizarre about the decision was that Sainz could have just finished the race without pitting and five seconds would have been added to his overall time.

Therefore, if he finished third and the gap between him and fourth place was more than five seconds he would have held onto his podium spot.

Following the pit stop Sainz came out in ninth place but again worked his way up the grid to finish fifth.

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