Max Verstappen WINS the French Grand Prix after snatching the lead off Lewis Hamilton on the penultimate lap to cap a stirring fightback in a thrilling showdown between the two rivals in France
- Max Verstappen made an extra stop to pass Lewis Hamilton on fresher tyres
- The Red Bull driver’s victory extends the gap to Hamilton now to 12 points
- Sergio Perez also overtook Valtteri Bottas to take the final spot on the podium
- Hamilton took the lead at the start before Verstappen jumped him in the stops
- Mercedes opted not to pit their drivers a second time compared to Verstappen
- Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo drove well for McLaren to finish 5th and 6th
- Pierre Gasly, Fernando Alonso and the two Aston Martins finished in the points
Max Verstappen won an exciting French Grand Prix to extend his world championship lead over Lewis Hamilton to 12 points.
The Dutchman overcame a mistake on the first corner, where he lost the lead to the Mercedes man, but was then helped by a strategic masterclass from his Red Bull team. Their quick-thinking combined with his then faultless driving to execute his third victory of the season.
He also had to contend with radio problems.
Max Verstappen extended his lead in the championship to 12 points with a brilliant victory
The Dutchman passed Hamilton on fresher tyres on the penultimate lap to take the victory
The podium was rounded out by Sergio Perez who also overtook Valtteri Bottas late on
The win was Max Verstappen’s third victory of the season to match Lewis Hamilton’s three
Verstappen, who started on pole, got cleanly off the line and bossed the situation into the first corner but then inexplicably carried too much speed through the bend and ran wide. This allowed Hamilton through.
The Brit opened up his advantage to three seconds until the first round of stops. He was jumped in the pits with the help of a great outlap by Verstappen.
The question was whether either team could get to the end without needing to change tyres again. Verstappen thought not and stopped once more. He now had to hunt down the Mercedes cars, which went to the end. He gave it all he had, passing Valtteri Bottas, then in second, with nine laps remaining.
Max Verstappen made a decent start but then ran wide to give Lewis Hamilton the lead
The Dutchman would jump the Mercedes drivers with the undercut in the first pit-stop
Verstappen decided to pit as teams struggled with the tyres during the second stint of the race
But Hamilton was five seconds up the road. He was driving brilliantly. But on the penultimate lap Verstappen passed the world champion at the chicane to take the lead – a reward for his brilliance and damning of Mercedes’ strategy.
The margin of victory over second-placed Hamilton was 2.9sec.
Perez passed Bottas to finish third and a place above the Finn.
Bottas was frustrated with his team over the radio for not pitting him twice in the race
Verstappen then had to close in and pass both Bottas and Hamilton to win the Grand Prix
Lando Norris had a stellar drive to finish in fifth ahead of teammate Daniel Ricciardo
The Ferrari drivers struggled for pace throughout and finished outside the points positions
Sportsmail’s Kieran Lynch provided live lap-by-lap coverage throughout the race.
Well, what a season this is turning out to be.
The fight between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton is proving to be everything we want it to be and hopefully it stays this way until the last race.
Stay tuned on MailSport for all the reaction and we’ll catch you all next weekend in Austria!
Max Verstappen says the battle between himself and Lewis Hamilton will be like this for the rest of the season. Don’t think anybody would complain?
Lewis Hamilton congratulates Verstappen and tells Martin Brundle that Mercedes need to ‘dig deep’ and find some pace.
Well that’s probably the best French Grand Prix since its return to the calendar and here’s the top-ten.
No Ferrari in the top-ten, what a horrible weekend for them.
Verstappen has a 12 point lead at the top of the standings and the Dutchman is congratulated by his teammate and Hamilton.
Sergio Perez keeps his third place as no investigation necessary is the verdict on his overtake on Bottas. Why didn’t Mercedes pit the Finnish driver?
So with that result Verstappen pulls out an extra eight points on Hamilton at the top of the championship while Red Bull extend the lead in the constructors’.
James Vowles of Mercedes tells Hamilton over the radio ‘this one is on us’.
Lando Norris takes fifth from his teammate Daniel Ricciardo who put in arguably his best drive of the season.
The points positions are completed by Pierre Gasly, Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll.
Max Verstappen crosses the line and he bounces back from Baku with an incredible victory at the French Grand Prix.
He had a big gap to close but Red Bull have outdone Mercedes and their decision to go for a two-stop strategy has worked a treat.
Sergio Perez offered great support and comes home in third though he is under investigation.
Bottas didn’t make the extra pitstop so in fact Verstappen takes the extra point for fastest lap.
Brilliant from the Championship leader as he closes in with the DRS and makes the pass on Hamilton into the chicane very easily.
He now has one lap to go to extend his lead in the driver’s championship.
Verstappen has now pulled himself into the DRS range, just 0.6 tenths off Hamilton.
Meanwhile Perez’s overtake on Bottas is under investigation for some reason.
Verstappen is flying now and through the first two sectors he pulls the gap down to 1.6 seconds. The front two are safe to those behind him with Perez now 9 seconds off his teammate.
In all of this up front, Carlos Sainz has slipped out of the points behind the Aston Martins’ of Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll.
Verstappen closes the gap by another five tenths and is 2.1 behind with four laps remaining as he is reminded by his race engineer.
Lead at the front now down to just under three seconds, that mistake might have hurt Hamilton come the end of the race.
Perez is six tenths behind Bottas and has DRS and takes third place off the Finnish driver.
Surely they’ll pit Bottas now for the fastest lap to try and take the point of Verstappen who currently has it.
Hamilton is quicker than Verstappen in the first two sectors though both drivers are now starting to creep up on traffic.
Verstappen pulled a full second back in the last sector as Hamilton says he hit a big kerb and in fact he ran wide.
Meanwhile Bottas is staying out for now though Perez is all over the back of him.
Verstappen did not show great pace on that last lap, in fact Hamilton has extended the lead to 4.6 seconds.
Has he used up all of his tyres?
Meanwhile to add insult to injury for Bottas it looks like he will be coming into the pits to go for the fastest lap.
Hamilton’s lead now 5 seconds by the end of the lap!
So Verstappen now just has Hamilton ahead, but there’s a 4.3 second gap with eight laps to go.
Hamilton is starting to show some good pace though Bottas is not happy.
He rages to his team over the radio ‘why does no one listen to me when I said it was going to be a two stopper’. Perez is now 1.5 behind the Finn.
Mercedes tell Bottas that Verstappen is starting to struggle with his tyres.
But the Dutchman gains on Bottas in the DRS zone and the Finn does his team no favours as he runs wide with Verstappen taking second!!
Bottas was so busy checking his mirrors on Verstappen that he outbroke himself allowing the Red Bull to go wheel to wheel with him on the next straight and take the position.
I don’t imagine Mercedes will be so happy that he allowed Verstappen to get by so easily and the Finn is at risk from Perez who is over three seconds behind.
So here we go, Verstappen is in DRS range of Bottas and how quick can he get past?
The rate he’s caught him at suggests it’s going to be very tough, but Mercedes will hope he can keep Verstappen behind as long as possible to protect Hamilton.
Ten laps to go!!!
Mercedes tell Bottas that he also has to worry about Sergio Perez as they predict he will catch the Finn in the last four laps.
Bottas has Verstappen to worry about first and there’s just a 1.4 second gap between the pair.
Not much happening behind them in the rest of the points position. Vettel might have an eye on getting Sainz for 9th and he is 2 seconds down on the Spaniard who replaced him in Ferrari this season.
Grey clouds still hovering above the track but doesn’t look likely that it’s going to rain by the end of the race.
Bottas says it will be difficult to keep Verstappen behind him as he has no front’s left.
This time around Verstappen is seven tenths quicker than Hamilton. The Mercedes team will have to hope that the Dutchman has used up all of his tyres in his pursuit of the leaders.
Another man who decided to make a second pit stop is Charles LeClerc who was at risk of losing 10th to Vettel and had miserable pace so he is now in 16th.
Hamilton has a 2.9 second lead to Bottas with Verstappen a further 3.9 down and Perez 4.4 behind and still in play for a podium.
Hamilton is asking about Verstappen’s pace but it seems like Mercedes have radio issues of their own as the Brit can’t hear anything in response!
Verstappen just half a second faster than Verstappen on Lap 39. This one is going to go right to the wire.
Verstappen takes a further eight tenths out of second place Bottas.
The front four are in a class of their own with Lando Norris a massive 43 seconds behind the Red Bull of Perez.
Vettel meanwhile has been in the pits and he is now 11th but watch out for him in these closing laps with extremely fresh tyres.
Fernando Alonso now takes Carlos Sainz for ninth, he seems to like the tyres on this stint a whole lot better than his first stint. Next for him is Pierre Gasly a further two seconds up the road.
Verstappen has closed the gap to 8 seconds to Bottas though there is one problem and that’s his team can’t hear him due to dodgy radio.
So with 17 laps to go, Hamilton leads by 2.4 to Bottas with Verstappen a further ten seconds behind.
Perez is fourth, Vettel still to pit in fifth, then Norris, Ricciardo, Gasly who gets past Sainz and Alonso who has jumped LeClerc.
Horror story of a race for Ferrari.
Max Verstappen sets the fastest lap of the race and he was nearly two seconds quicker than Hamilton on that lap and one quicker than Bottas.
He is right behind Perez and you can probably guess the Mexican won’t make it hard for his teammate to get by.
And that’s what happens as Verstappen gets by Perez easily before the end of the lap.
Verstappen is very appreciative of his teammate as he comes over the radio saying ‘thank you for that’. And he’s another two seconds quicker than Hamilton on that lap.
At this rate surely Hamilton’s lead is under threat.
So, the Mercedes pit crew are still waiting still and Hamilton leads by 3.8 to his teammate Bottas with Perez a further 12 seconds down and Verstappen 2 behind him.
That’s the mission for Verstappen should Mercedes not pit. Hamilton says his fronts are okay.
Meanwhile Lando Norris on fresher tyres gets past Daniel Ricciardo and he is looking good for a fifth place finish, with the two Aston Martin’s still yet to pit.
Red Bull mechanics are out and Max Verstappen makes the decision to pit!!
They pulled the trigger first and decided to give up track position and he rejoins in fourth some 4 seconds behind his teammate Perez.
Very interesting, will Mercedes respond?
No investigation neccessary for Norris’ moment with Gasly says the stewards.
But the British driver is going for it and he gets past his former teammate Sainz for 8th. He is now 2.1 behind his teammate Ricciardo.
Hamilton is 2.3 seconds behind Verstappen while Bottas tells his team he can’t see himself running till the end of this race. One problem for the front three though is that Perez has pulled himself into their pit window if they want to make another stop.
‘What’s this idiot doing?’
That’s what Lando Norris said after Pierre Gasly forced him off on Lap 28 but he is now ninth ahead of Gasly who gets past LeClerc.
The two-stop strategy is the talk of the town with the front three concerned whether they can make the end of the race running at this pace.
Valtteri Bottas is suggesting Plan B to his team which perhaps indicates a switch to a two-stop strategy.
Lando Norris failed to get past Gasly on Lap 28 with little space between them. On this lap though he is able to slide past the AlphaTauri to move up to tenth.
Norris now has the Ferrari’s in his sights and he gets past LeClerc for ninth. The Ferrari driver just lost a place to Sainz and now has Gasly behind him.
Valtteri Bottas is now two seconds behind his teammate so either he’s saving his tyres or struggling to keep up.
Perez has cut a further second out of the third placed man but still has another 15 to find.
The Aston Martin’s of Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll are running strongly in 5th and 6th, while Ricciardo makes a move on LeClerc for 7th, with Sainz 9th and Gasly just ahead of Norris in 10th.
Hamilton is as close as he’s been to Verstappen going into the first corner while Bottas has had a scruffy lap in third and has dropped 1.3 seconds behind his teammate.
Perez is the quickest man on the track but is 16 seconds down in fourth.
Hamilton continues to ramp up the pressure on Verstappen in the middle sector, it’s going to be so tough for the Dutchman to keep Hamilton behind him with 26 laps left to go.
Further back, Pierre Gasly passes Antonio Giovinazzi for tenth place as LeClerc and Ricciardo have now got past Ocon.
Lewis Hamilton is taking different lines to try and avoid the dirty air of Verstappen’s car.
He is doing a good job to keep close and there’s just 1.3 covering the top three.
LeClerc and Ricciardo meanwhile are now 8th and 9th after passing Giovinazzi and are now just behind Ocon’s Alpine who still needs to pit.
Better lap for Hamilton who gets DRS on the front straight on Hamilton but still can’t get close enough.
The fastest lap of the race meanwhile is still Valtteri Bottas who is doing a very good job after his struggles in Baku to keep up with his teammate.
Verstappen is five tenths clear of Hamilton with Bottas a further eight tenths behind.
Perez comes into the pits after running long and rejoins in fourth place but he is well off the front three now. Hasn’t quite worked for the Mexican but he does have fresher tyres which could benefit him later in the race.
Norris is also in the pits and he rejoins in 14th behind Raikkonen but he has tyres nine laps fresher than his rivals.
No DRS for Hamilton this time but his teammate Bottas does have it and he’s running very closely to his teammate.
Hamilton gets super close to Verstappen as his team try and spur him on.
Perez is told by Red Bull ‘Plan A plus three laps’ so he’s obviously content up front but he is losing a lot of time to those behind him. Verstappen is now 6 seconds behind his teammate.
Charles LeClerc moves into the points with a move on Kimi Raikkonen as Daniel Ricciardo looks to now follow him through the drivers who have not yet pitted.
Hamilton has DRS again but can’t get close enough to the back of the Red Bull which is very good through the corners.
The top-ten at the moment is Perez from Verstappen by ten seconds, then Hamilton, Bottas, Norris, Vettel, Stroll, Ocon, Giovinazzi and Raikkonen. From Norris to Raikkonen though have not yet pitted.
Hamilton’s stop was a tenth quicker than Verstappen but it seems as though the power of the undercut has been underestimated by Mercedes. Maybe they should have pit him first instead of Bottas.
But the race is still on and Hamilton has DRS with Verstappen on the defensive. Mercedes have looked quicker so far so the race is still on.
Meanwhile Perez is running long showing how efficient he is with his tyres and is leading the race.
Hamilton asks his team if he’s coming into the pits to cover Bottas and Verstappen and that’s what he does.
It’s a very neat change by Mercedes as Perez takes the lead but still needs to stop.
Hamilton rejoins the track but Verstappen’s out lap was incredible and he takes the position off the Mercedes driver!!!
Max Verstappen comes in and this needs to be a great pit stop and it is.
He trickles down the pit-lane but Bottas is setting fastest sectors.
But the gap Verstappen pulled before the pit-stops is enough to keep him in front and it sounds like Hamilton will be next in.
Fernando Alonso meanwhile pits after his wretched first stint.
Valtteri Bottas is the first of the leaders to pit and Max Verstappen is at risk to falling to the undercut.
He rejoins in fourth while Carlos Sainz and Pierre Gasly also comes in for their stops.
It’s worked out brilliantly for LeClerc who jumps to the front of the best of the rest pack, with Ricciardo not far behind him while Sainz and Gasly lose out.
Valtteri Bottas is told to avoid the kerbs on his left front tyre as they are particularly risky at Paul Richard.
LeClerc has already got past Mazepin while Ricciardo is looking to make the undercut on Gasly but rejoins behind the Ferrari driver.
Lance Stroll is now on the back of the two Alpines of Alonso and Ocon who aren’t showing great pace at the team’s home race.
Charles LeClerc is the first man to come to the pits after he was overtaken by Ricciardo. He goes onto the hard compound tyre and he drops all the way back to 19th place.
He does have some clear track before he gets to Mazepin so watch out for his pace.
Daniel Ricciardo is looking very racy meanwhile and he is closing up on Pierre Gasly who is again doing a stellar job in the Alpha Tauri.
A replay is shown of Valtteri Bottas who ran wide on Lap 12 which explains why he has dropped now nearly three seconds behind Verstappen.
Fernando Alonso is not happy with his tyres understandably after the past few laps, and it sounds like he might have to switch to a two-stop strategy.
Meanwhile Daniel Ricciardo is having a great race and he has got past Charles LeClerc for seventh. The McLaren’s look as kind on their tyres as any team out there.
Hamilton has expressed concerns over his rear tyres now. You wonder when he’ll come in as he’s not completely happy despite being up front. Though he is pulling away.
The McLarens now ahead of Alonso are closing in on the Ferrari of Charles LeClerc.
Fernando Alonso meanwhile drops out of the points as Sebastian Vettel dives down the inside for tenth.
Hamilton now has a 2 second lead over Verstappen up front, with the Dutchman 2.4 ahead of Bottas, and Perez a further 3.6 down though he is catching up slightly.
Great pass by Ricciardo who takes eighth place of Fernando Alonso. It’s been coming for four or five laps.
Alonso tries to keep the battle going but Lando Norris pulls off a great opportunistic move to move up to ninth past the Spaniard.
It looks like the Alpine driver is struggling for grip and Sebastian Vettel is close behind.
More concerns for Hamilton as he reports graining on his left-front tyre. Valtteri Bottas also reports graining but says it’s not affecting the grip in his Mercedes.
Ricciardo again gets DRS on eighth place Alonso but can’t quite seem to get close enough at the end of the straights.
One man who has made a move since the start of the race is Lance Stroll who now gets past Kimi Raikkonen for 14th having started in 19th after a shocker of a qualifying session.
LeClerc in seventh has dropped off the back of Gasly.
Max Verstappen had got the lead down to 1.0 seconds but a good lap from Lewis Hamilton puts it back up to 1.6 seconds and he is doing enough to keep his rival out of DRS range.
Hamilton though is very worried about his tyres as he says they are ‘very hot’. Nothing too unusual for the seven-time champion though.
Sergio Perez in fourth has improved his pace slightly and is managing to match those ahead of him.
Daniel Ricciardo is putting pressure on Fernando Alonso for eighth position and has dropped his teammate Lando Norris slightly.
The Australian has DRS coming down the main straight but can’t get close enough to the Alpine driver.
Lewis Hamilton has said that he doesn’t expect his tyres to last long enough for them to go with Plan A whatever that may be. A one-stop race is expected today.
Meanwhile Valtteri Bottas sets another fastest lap and is in DRS range of Max Verstappen. It’s starting to look like Spain and Portugal where Mercedes had the fastest race car.
A battle is ensuing for sixth place as Pierre Gasly has his hands full with Charles LeClerc just behind him.
They are running about a second behind LeClerc’s teammate Sainz.
Valtteri Bottas meanwhile sets the fastest lap but is nine tenths off Verstappen.
Lewis Hamilton leads at the front by 1.3 seconds to Verstappen, with Bottas a further 1.3 behind the Dutchman.
Sergio Perez can’t keep up with the front three and is already six seconds off the lead.
Battle between Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher towards the back, as the Russian forces his teammate off track. Mazepin is 19th ahead of Schumacher who is now last.
Verstappen has said over the radio that he couldn’t keep control of his car which led to his mistake.
He did respond the next lap with the fastest lap as he tries to put pressure on Hamilton for the lead.
There was also a moment between Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo as the Brit tried to pass his teammate but ran wide at Turn 1 at the start of Lap 2. Norris has complained that his teammate didn’t give him enough space.
Lewis Hamilton has come over the radio to ask his team to check his left-rear saying that he has no grip already.
But what a huge mistake from Verstappen on Lap 1. He did make Turn 1 but slided off the track at Turn 2.
It was a good start by Max Verstappen but a shocking Turn 2 as he runs wide allowing Lewis Hamilton to come through and take the lead.
Verstappen rejoins ahead of Bottas and Perez with Sainz, Gasly, LeClerc, Alonso, Ricciardo and Norris rounding off the top ten.
Stewards say no investigation necessary for Verstappen who didn’t take the escape road.
The past two French Grand Prix have not been the most action packed but let’s hope for a cracker here.
The mechanics are off the grid and away we go for the formation lap with Max Verstappen leading away from Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas, Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz.
It’s a long straight so plenty of chance to overtake going into the first corner.
Race control has said that there is a ten percent chance of rain for the race. The sun is starting to appear through the dark clouds that have covered the track for the past hour.
The drivers are heading back to the cars and we have just ten minutes to go until the start of the race.
During the anthem there was a dramatic entrance for the winner’s trophy today, as the army dropped in by helicopter and ran up the pit straight with the gorilla trophy which has been brought back from the last French Grand Prix.
Again some drivers take a knee as part of the ‘We Race As One’ message that has been agreed upon this season.
The French national anthem is next.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has said that the weather could play a huge part in the race today following a wet race in this morning’s junior Formula 3 race.
He said: ‘It’s looking pretty dark from where the weather is coming from so we’re going to have to keep a close eye on that.’
Huge support in the stands for French drivers Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon today.
Gasly had a tremendous qualifying in P6, while Ocon in French outfit Alpine starts P11, one row behind teammate Fernando Alonso.
Monegasque Charles LeClerc starts P7 after back-to-back pole positions in Monaco and Baku.
Carlos Sainz who starts fifth has had a huge moment on his way to the grid!
The Spaniard has a huge lock-up at Beausset and he tells his team that he’s flat-spotted his tyres.
Not what he wants half an hour before the race!
George Russell is still waiting for his first points in the Williams and his best chance might be if it rains this afternoon.
We’ll have to wait and see but it would surely make things interesting!
Toto Wolff has been speaking to Sky F1 and said that sacrifices may have to be made later into the season due to next season’s rule changes.
He said: ‘They (Red Bull) are the strongest they’ve been so far but it’s also about winning this year v next year and the years that follow. You try to be competitive over a long time.
‘Sometimes that means you have to sacrifice short term. That doesn’t mean we want to sacrifice the championship, we’re very very far away from that but I think the key is understanding the tyres and doing a solid job without many mistakes.’
The Red Bulls are very keen as they lead the pack away to make their way to the grid with Max Verstappen making his practice start followed by Sergio Perez.
We are 40 minutes away until lights out.
Lewis Hamilton hit back at Sky Sports pundit Paul di Resta for peddling a ‘myth’ ahead of Saturday’s qualifying session for the French Grand Prix.
Although the defending world champion was beaten to pole by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and will start from second on the grid, he was at least content to believe he had nailed a theory aired on TV the day before.
The spat revolved around Di Resta saying he thought Hamilton would ‘want his chassis back’. This remark was prompted by the two Mercedes drivers having swapped the frames of their cars for this weekend at Circuit Paul Ricard and, on the evidence of Friday’s practice sessions, Bottas being faster than Hamilton.
To read more click below
If there was anyone who needs a good race at Paul Richard this afternoon then it’s Valtteri Bottas.
Rumours continue to circle over his future at Mercedes, and he has not scored a point in the last two races.
Monaco wasn’t his fault, but he was extremely off the pace in Baku finishing 12th despite having no issues in the race.
Bottas could do himself and his team a favour if he’s able to affect the battle at the front this afternoon.
The Azerbaijan Grand Prix was one that both Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton would like to forget about quickly.
Verstappen drove serenely at the front until his late tyre blowout while Hamilton scored no points after his mistake from the restart – in fact he has only scored seven points in two races!
Just four points separate the pair going into the race, so a win for Hamilton could put him top of the tree going into the double header in Austria.
While there weren’t as many accidents as qualifying in Baku, two crashes affected the first part of qualifying yesterday.
AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda will start from the pit-lane after his crash just three minutes into the session.
Mick Schumacher made Q2 for the first time in his career despite his accident, but presently it looks like he won’t need to replace his gearbox and take a penalty so he will stay in P15.
Despite Mercedes’ disappointment over the past two races, many felt that the French Grand Prix would be one that suits the Brackley outfit.
Lewis Hamilton has won both times since the French Grand Prix returned to the calendar in 2018, but it was Max Verstappen who got the pole on Saturday by 0.258 seconds.
There have been several races this season though where the Mercedes look to be the quicker car on the Sunday, so don’t rule them out.
For a full recap of qualifying click below
And welcome to Sportsmail’s coverage of the French Grand Prix.
Though we’re not expecting the bedlam of Baku, it’s shaping up to be an intriguing race with the two title rivals on the front row with championship leader Max Verstappen starting ahead of Lewis Hamilton with their respective teammates on the second row.
There has been rain at the track this morning though it is dry presently, but potentially something to watch out for.
Stay tuned for build-up, race action and the result.
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