F1 LIVE: Hamilton has ‘plenty of fuel in the tank’ after second place in France

Formula 1 All Time Rivalry. – Hamilton vs Verstappen

Max Verstappen capitalised after Charles Leclerc crashed out to win the French Grand Prix and extend his championship lead. Leclerc, who won last time out in Austria to boost his fleeting title hopes, looked to be in total control before he lost grip in his Ferrari through Turn 11 on lap 18 and crashed into the barrier ending his race.

Lewis Hamilton threatened to challenge Verstappen for the victory in his 300th Formula One race but the Dutchman’s pace ultimately proved too strong as he coasted to maximum points at Circuit Paul Ricard. Seven-time champion Hamilton came home second with Mercedes teammate George Russell rounding out the podium after a ding dong battle with Sergio Perez in the second Red Bull.

Verstappen now has a 62-point lead at the top of the Championship leaderboard ahead of the final race before the summer break, this weekend 29-31 July, at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Follow all the reaction and analysis from the Circuit Paul Ricard:


F1 LIVE: French Grand Prix – Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto:

“It didn’t go to plan. After 15 laps Charles was going well. It was just a mistake, it happens. What I said to Charles is we will enjoy more in the future. It was a genuine driving error. Throttle was nothing to do with the mistake.

“Carlos was short on life with tyres, it would have been really risky. It was the safest and right decision. We don’t think it cost us a place…

“There is always something to improve and learn. We are progressing but we proved that we have a competitive car. We turn to Hungary, we can get a 1-2 there why not?!”



Max Verstappen makes title race admission after extending lead at French Grand Prix

Max Verstappen admits his 62-point Championship lead is “bigger than what it should be” after Charles Leclerc’s retirement at the French Grand Prix.

Having held off an early challenge from Verstappen at Circuit Paul Ricard, Leclerc pushed too hard and crashed on lap-18, blowing an opportunity to cut the world champion’s lead at the top of the standings.

Verstappen then cruised to a seventh victory of the season ahead of Lewis Hamilton, extending his lead ahead of the final race before the summer break, in Hungary this weekend.

Despite the healthy advantage, Verstappen said after the race that Budapest will be a “struggle” for Red Bull and is refusing to get carried away despite his lead after 12 races.

“Of course, it’s a great lead but a lot of things can happen and I just want to stay focused; we need a lot more good results, a lot more one-lap pace,” Verstappen said.

“The next race is Budapest, and I think that will be a bit more of a struggle for us, where I think Ferrari is going to be really, really quick. It’s all about scoring points every single race, even when it’s not your race.”


F1 LIVE: French Grand Prix – Toto Wolff:

“Delighted would be to win but we need to stay humble. I’m always pessimistic because I need to be, we’re just lacking six or seventh tenths. Overall the team effort was great. George hard and fast, Lewis a lion who didn’t let loose. We’re doing the maximum on race day.

“We’re struggling to bring the tyres in the optimum window. There’s a lot of head scratching going on, it’s a little bit trial and error but it’s good that science can improvise.

“We had some really difficult time at the beginning of the year. Lewis is absolutely on it, he keeps pushing the team, has a positive mindset, even if the days are really grim like yesterday and we are nine tenths off.”

(Getty Images)


Charles Leclerc admits ‘mistake’ behind French Grand Prix crash

Charles Leclerc admitted fault for the crash that ended his French Grand Prix and led to Max Verstappen extending his championship lead over him.

Leclerc was in charge of the race at Circuit Paul Ricard on Sunday before sensationally losing control of his Ferrari through the right-hand Turn 11 and slamming into the tyre wall.

The Monegasque sped away from pole position and looked to be on course for victory when the reigning champion fell more than two seconds behind on lap 16. But just two laps later the race turned on its head when Leclerc’s scarlet machine slammed into the barrier.

“Nooooooooo,” Leclerc yelled over team radio before pointing the finger of blame at a sticky throttle with 2016 world champion Nico Rosberg, on Sky Sports commentary duty, believing the Ferrari car was at fault.

“It would be so unusual for a world-class driver to lose the car there,” he said. “I really think there was something wrong with that Ferrari.” But after the race Leclerc admitted it was driver error. Asked if it was a mechanical failure, Leclerc replied: “No it doesn’t look like it was. It was just a mistake.


Lewis Hamilton loses ‘around three kilos’ in French Grand Prix after drinks bottle problem

Lewis Hamilton feels “fantastic” after securing his best result of the 2022 Formula One season despite having to complete the French Grand Prix without being able to rehydrate because of a drinks bottle problem in his Mercedes.

In his 300th Formula One appearance, Hamilton followed world champion and championship leader Max Verstappen home for second place at the Circuit Paul Ricard and a fourth podium in succession.

Teammate George Russell was third after he fought his way past Sergio Perez in the second Red Bull with three laps remaining. The seven-time world champion revealed afterwards he was without hydration for a sweltering race – track temperatures were mid 50Cs – after a malfunction with his drinks bottle.

But despite estimating he lost “probably around three kilos” as a result, it didn’t dampen his spirits after a fine weekend, both individually and for the team. “I feel fantastic,” he said afterwards. “I was a bit dehydrated but I don’t really drink in the race. I tried it and there was nothing coming out. What a day, what a weekend, just so proud of the team.

“Getting results like this is about the whole package, we know we don’t have the pace but reliability is a fundamental part of the process. George did a great job and it’s really special for us.


F1 LIVE: Nico Rosberg tells Ferrari they need ‘serious changes’ after French Grand Prix blunders

Nico Rosberg believes Ferrari need to make some “serious changes” after a day largely to forget on the pit wall at the French Grand Prix. With race leader Charles Leclerc crashing out on lap 18 after making what he admitted was a “mistake”,Carlos Sainz stormed through the field having started in 19th place due to an engine penalty.

Yet after being given a five-second time penalty for an unsafe release during the first round of pit stops, there was indecisiveness on the pit wall and in the cockpit over whether to pit again or take the penalty at the end of the race.

While battling Sergio Perez for third place, Ferrari ordered Sainz to pit and the Spaniard understandably responded “not now, not now” as he tried to overtake the Mexican.

Having eventually made the pass, Ferrari played it safe and opted to pit Sainz, pushing him back to ninth before he eventually recovered to fifth by the chequered flag – yet 2016 world champion Rosberg could not believe what he was watching.

“I was shaking my head, like ‘what on earth are they doing there?’,” Rosberg told Sky F1. “First of all, he was in the middle of a huge battle out on track and his whole team wasn’t watching that anymore, they had their heads down doing their calculations about pit-stop times and they were talking to him in the middle of the wheel-to-wheel action there.”


Charles Leclerc ‘doesn’t deserve to be world champion’ after French Grand Prix crash

Charles Leclerc said he does not deserve to be crowned Formula One world champion after he crashed out while leading Sunday’s French Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen took advantage of Leclerc’s catastrophic demise to race to his seventh victory of the season and extend his title lead over his Ferrari rival from 38 to 63 points.

Leclerc could be leading this season’s title race but for a catalogue of mechanical and strategical mistakes, as well as driver errors in Imola, and now in the south of France after he lost control through Turn 11 on lap 18 of 53.

“I feel like I am performing at the highest level of my career, but there is no point in performing at a high level if I make those mistakes,” said Leclerc, 24. “I lost 25 points here as it was likely I was going to win, and seven in Imola because of my mistake.

“So at the end of the year if there are 32 points missing then I know it has come from me, and I did not deserve to win the championship. I know I need to get on top of things if I want to be a world champion.”

Leclerc’s challenge appeared to be back on track after he built on his commanding win a fortnight ago in Austria with pole position. The Monegasque then sped away from his marks before keeping Verstappen at bay before the Dutchman stopped for fresh tyres. But the race turned on its head when Leclerc’s scarlet machine slammed into the barrier.


F1 LIVE: RACE REPORT – Ferrari again fail to convert potential into points as Leclerc’s mistake gifts Verstappen victory in France

Charles Leclerc did not need telling. Having held off Max Verstappen’s early onslaught superbly in a stiflingly hot French Grand Prix, the Monegasque’s perfect weekend in the south of France came crashing down. Quite literally.

Pushing unnecessarily hard in a Ferrari which, despite its raw pace, has proved a handful this season, the Championship contender lost the rear and spun off the track and out of the race at the Beausset right-hander. A lap-19 gift for Verstappen, who then cruised to a seventh victory of the season at Circuit Paul Ricard and extends his title lead to a whopping 63 points.

Screaming “Nooooo” in the cockpit of his stricken Ferrari, 24-year-old Leclerc made no excuses in the pen afterwards: “I feel like I am performing at the highest level of my career, but there is no point in performing at a high level if I make those mistakes.

“I lost 25 points here as it was likely I was going to win, and seven in Imola because of my mistake. So at the end of the year if there are 32 points missing then I know it has come from me, and I did not deserve to win the championship. I know I need to get on top of things if I want to be a world champion.”

Speaking of world champions, Leclerc’s clumsiness opened the door too for Lewis Hamilton – playing the role of ultimate opportunist in 2022 – to record his highest finish of the season on a weekend he became the sixth man to reach 300 Grands Prix.

In an upgraded Mercedes which is still short of Red Bull and Ferrari for pure speed but continues to secure points on race-day, the seven-time title winner came home comfortably in second with teammate George Russell third after catching Sergio Perez off-guard during a late virtual safety car period. Two Silver Arrows on the podium for the first time in 2022, a glimmer of light in a challenging year thus far.


Lewis Hamilton still has ‘plenty of fuel in the tank’ after 300th F1 race

Lewis Hamilton claimed his best result of the season at Sunday’s French Grand Prix – and then said he is ready to extend his Formula One career.

In his 300th race, Hamilton started fourth and finished second, blasting past Red Bull’s Sergio Perez off the line and then gaining another place after Charles Leclerc crashed out from the lead. Max Verstappen triumphed for a seventh time this year to move 63 points clear in the championship race.

Hamilton finished 10 seconds adrift of the Dutchman – and is now 106 points off the title pace – but he was belated and exhausted in equal measure when the chequered flag dropped in the searing 33 degree heat.

It has been a troubling period for Hamilton in the seven months since his controversial loss at last December’s title-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – a defeat so sour that there was serious debate whether he would return this year.

But with 18 months to run on his £40million-a-year Mercedes deal, Hamilton’s boss Toto Wolff said his driver could commit to at least another century of grands prix.

“That is a lot of races,” said Hamilton, 37. “Firstly, I want to be grateful to get to this point. But I still feel fresh, and I still feel as though I have got plenty of fuel left in the tank. I am enjoying what I am doing and I am proud of arriving every day and working with this incredible group of people. I am enjoying working with the sport more than ever.”