Mercedes-AMG Petronas nailed a double podium at the French Grand Prix, a first this season. Starting in P4 and P6, Lewis Hamilton and George Russell finished second and third, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen winning the race.
It was a fabulous start for Lewis Hamilton who flashed by Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, from P4 to P3, and tried to chase after Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. But the two, visibly faster, kept widening the gap between them and everyone else. The Monegasque could almost feel the Dutch’s breath at the back of his neck.
But it was about to get even better for the Mercedes driver. Ferrari told Leclerc to go for Plan B. They failed to pit him on time, leaving him out on the track in order to gain more time and return of Max Verstappen, who was already running new rubber.
But Ferrari didn’t need to worry about Leclerc’s race strategy after all. On lap 18, the Monegasque lost control in Turn 11 and slammed the tire barrier. He desperately tried to turn back to the track, but was unable to engage reverse. So the race harshly finished for the man who is dreaming of his first World Championship title. His frustrated yell broke through the radio. There was nothing he could do, but watch Max Verstappen take the lead.
With the Safety Car deployed, Mercedes pitted both drivers fast and in perfect sync. They managed to avoid the unsafe releases of other teams, who were inches away from smashing their cars on the pitlane.
Red Bull called Sainz in to put new tires on his car. But while he was wheel-to-wheel with Perez, he screamed back: “Not now!”
Max kept building up the gap, eventually finishing 10 seconds ahead of Hamilton. Behind Lewis, George Russell and Sergio Perez made contact in Turn 8, battling for the third. The British driver, furious after the incident, was brought to reality by his own pit wall. Team Principal Toto Wolff interfered to tell him to “keep his head down.” But Sainz had to serve his 5-second penalty from the unsafe release. Russell eventually swept by the Mexican and managed to get 0.8 seconds ahead of the Mexican.
With a double podium, Mercedes is now 44 points behind Ferrari in the Constructors ranking, while Redl Bull leads by 82 points. Charles Leclerc still leads in the Drivers leaderboard, 63 points ahead of Max Verstappen. Next up is the Hungarian Grand Prix.