Ferrari won the start…
Even before the start of the race, there was a lot of talk that “Ferrari” outplayed itself on Saturday, choosing a setting with high downforce, putting itself under attack both tactically and in the fight on the Mistral straight. Despite the pole position of Charles Leclerc, the experts vied with each other to call Max Verstappen the favorite of the upcoming race.
However, the start of the race was left to Leclerc, who won the fight in the first turn. Behind, Sergio Perez let Lewis Hamilton pass ahead, and Esteban Ocon collided with Yuki Tsunoda, but both managed to continue the race. Best of all the first round was Kevin Magnussen, who played seven positions at once after his penalty and start from the last position. Carlos Sainz was able to reach the 16th position.
Leclerc failed to leave, Max remained in the DRS zone from Leclerc, but circle after circle the Dutchman could only show himself in the rear-view mirrors, but he was not given the opportunity to attack.
By lap 13, Verstappen lost a bit of momentum and fell behind the Monegasque by more than a second, which finally turned the race into a tactical fight. Behind, Sainz was gradually able to work his way into the top ten.
On lap 17, Verstappen went to the pits for a fresh set of hard, returning to the track in seventh position.
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… But lost the fight in the championship …
Well, the fight in the championship ended around the circle later – Charles Leclerc was turned around in the 11th turn and thrown into the wall. Monegasque retired leading the race for the third time this season. At first it seemed that Leclerc attributed the accident to the gas pedal, but then Charles clarified that a problem with the pedal prevented him from backing out after the incident, and he flew out through his own fault. Nightmare.
A safety car appeared on the track, under which almost everyone went to the pits, returning the lead to Max Verstappen.
Tight fight at the French Grand Prix
Photo: Dan Mullan/Getty Images
At the restart, the leading group retained its position – Verstappen remained first, Hamilton second, and Perez third. There were incidents behind – Guanyu Zhou made a mistake in the fight against Mick Schumacher and faked the German, sending him into a U-turn, and himself into the pits for a new wing.
Carlos Sainz, “thanks” to the safety car, received a five-second penalty – “Ferrari” hesitated at the pit stop, and when leaving, Carlos almost crashed into Albon. Immediately after the restart, the Spaniard received a well-deserved fine.
… And deprived Sainz of the right podium
Soon the race returned to a quiet stage again, except that Sainz was trying to win back the position, taking into account his five-second penalty. With 12 laps to go, Carlos finally managed to get to attack distance for third position and pass the Mexican. At the same time, Ferrari tried for a long time to figure out whether Carlos should drive into the pits for the second pit stop or if the medium tires would last until the finish line. As a result, the team, after such a long-awaited overtaking, nevertheless decided to stop – Carlos after it returned to the track only ninth, behind not only Perez and Russell, but also the Alpin with the McLarens.
In the end, Sainz managed to deal with Ocon, Riccardo, Norris and Alonso, but Carlos did not manage to reach the first quartet.
Four laps before the finish line, Guanyu Zhou added to the list of retirees, a virtual safety car mode appeared over the track, and at the restart, George Russell managed to overtake Sergio Perez in the fight for the last step of the podium.
Max Verstappen confidently brought the race to victory, which was the 27th for him in his career. Lewis Hamilton finished second, Russell finished third, despite attempts to counterattack from Perez. Closed the top five Carlos Sainz, who added a point for the best lap. In addition to these five, Alonso, Norris, Ocon, Riccardo and Stroll scored points.
Verstappen not only won the race, but also made a serious bid for the title – Max is already ahead of Leclerc by 63 points. “Ferrari” once again confirmed that the team has problems both with the reliability of the car and with tactics – the pit stop of Carlos Sainz, who claimed the podium, to put it mildly, raises questions.
Do not scold Ferrari for failures. Exploding engines and terrible decisions are part of the plan