French GP: Lewis Hamilton claims masterful win to extend F1 lead
Hamilton romps to sixth victory of F1 2019, as Bottas only just holds off Leclerc for second; Late heartbreak for Norris who loses three places, but final-lap drama with Ricciardo under investigation
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 24/06/19 6:13am
Lewis Hamilton stretched his F1 World Championship lead with a dominant and masterful victory over Valtteri Bottas at the French GP for his fourth win in a row.
Claiming Mercedes' 10th successive victory - one shy of F1's all-time record - Hamilton effectively operated in a different league up front and beat Bottas by 18 seconds after converting his pole position into an unchallenged race lead.
Hamilton now leads Bottas by 36 points after eight races in F1 2019.
"It's definitely been a very good weekend. I've been racing a long, long time, but it never gets old," said Hamilton of his 79th career win, just 12 behind Michael Schumacher's record.
Bottas only just staved off third-placed Charles Leclerc, as the lead Ferrari launched a late assault on the second Mercedes en route to his first podium since Bahrain in March.
Sebastian Vettel finished only fifth from his disappointing seventh on the grid with early overtakes on both McLarens not leading to a sustained challenge on fourth-placed Max Verstappen.
Carlos Sainz was sixth for impressive McLaren, but there was late heartbreak for Lando Norris who slipped from seventh to 10th on the final lap amid late hydraulic problems on his car.
However, the English rookie subsequently rose up to ninth after an investigation into the manner in which he lost out led to two five-second penalties for Daniel Ricciardo.
Renault's Ricciardo ran wide in his attempted overtake at the chicane and, as he came back on track, Norris then left the circuit.
As Ricciardo lost momentum, Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikkonen moved ahead - but the Australian then re-passed the former world champion over the white line on the inside of the following straight.
Ricciardo ended up seventh - with Raikkonen eighth and the other Renault of Nico Hulkenberg ninth - but his double penalty has dropped him out of the points altogether in 11th.
Raikkonen, Hulkenberg, Norris and Pierre Gasly all rise a place.
French GP: Top 10 finishers
1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
2. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes
3. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
4. Max Verstappen, Red Bull
5. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari
6. Carlos Sainz, McLaren
7. Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo
8. Nico Hulkenberg, Renault
9. Lando Norris, McLaren
10. Pierre Gasly, Red Bull
Can anyone stop Hamilton?
The five-time world champion insisted after qualifying on Saturday that he was not "untouchable", but the familiar narrative of the race underlined the high level at which Hamilton is operating.
"Since the Barcelona race, Lewis has just delivered something that Valtteri cannot contend with," said Sky F1's Paul Di Resta.
"It is a masterclass, he is in a league of his own at the moment, and the other teams are not operating as well as Mercedes."
A disconsolate Bottas said in parc ferme: "He's not unbeatable... I know that. I just have to work hard."
Hamilton comfortably led away from pole position and steadily pulled away from Bottas in the first stint. Despite pitting later than Bottas, as Mercedes covered off the threat of Leclerc for the Finn, Hamilton emerged from the sole pit stops with an 11s lead.
He only continued to pull away thereafter.
French GP Race Result
|1) Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||1:24.31.198|
|2) Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||+18.056|
|3) Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||+18.985|
|4) Max Verstappen||Red Bull||+34.905|
|5) Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||+62.796|
|6) Carlos Sainz||McLaren||+95.462|
|7) Daniel Ricciardo||Renault||+1 lap|
|8) Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||+1 lap|
|9) Nico Hulkenberg||Renault||+1 lap|
|10) Lando Norris||McLaren||+1 lap|
|11) Pierre Gasly||Red Bull||+1 lap|
|12) Sergio Perez||Racing Point||+1 lap|
|13) Lance Stroll||Racing Point||+1 lap|
|14) Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||+1 lap|
|15) Alexander Albon||Toro Rosso||+1 lap|
|16) Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||+1 lap|
|17) Kevin Magnussen||Haas||+1 lap|
|18) Robert Kubica||Williams||+1 lap|
|19) George Russell||Williams||+1 lap|
|Romain Grosjean||Haas||Did Not Finish|
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