Max scored his 14th career podium finish with a controlled drive to second place in the French Grand Prix behind winner Lewis Hamilton. Daniel, meanwhile, had to settle for fourth place as he spent the race battling a problem with his front wing.
The first French Grand Prix in a decade got off to a spectacular start when Sebastian Vettel collided with Valtteri Bottas in Turn 1. The championship-leading Ferrari driver got a good start and closed up on the back of pole sitter Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes. There was no way past, however, so Vettel sought a wider line as he entered the first corner. Bottas was powering past on the outside, however, as they turned Vettel’s Ferrari connected with the rear left wheel of Bottas’ Mercedes.
That forced Max to cut the corner, but the Dutchman managed to avoid the chaos and as the field streamed towards the next corner, he found himself in second place ahead of Renault’s Carlos Sainz, who had climbed to third place from seventh on the grid, and Daniel, who had been slightly hampered by the carnage.
There was then another incident as the cars went into Turn 3. Force India’s Esteban Ocon collided with fellow Frenchman Pierre Gasly of Toro Rosso and saw the two home favourites exit the race on lap one.
The incident brought out the safety car and during the cautionary period, Vettel and Bottas were able to pit for repairs, with both also taking on soft tyres.
When the action resumed at the end of lap five, Hamilton controlled the re-start well and managed to hold the lead ahead of Max. Daniel was putting heavy pressure on Sainz, however, and the Honey Badger got past the Renault driver on lap eight to take third place.
Towards the rear of the field Vettel and Bottas were on a march and by lap 20 Vettel had climbed to fifth place, behind team-mate Kimi Raikkonen. Bottas’ progress had been slower and he was settled in P10.
Max was the first of the leaders to make a scheduled pit stop and at the end of lap 25 he took on a set of soft tyres before rejoining in fourth place behind Hamilton, Ricciardo and Raikkonen. Daniel was next in and he made his stop for softs on lap 28, emerging behind Vettel who was now on ageing soft tyres.
Race leader Hamilton waited until lap 33 before he made the move from supersofts to soft tyres and his stop meant the lead briefly went to Raikkonen. But the Finn made his own trip to the pit lane a lap later and Hamilton moved back to first place ahead of Max and Daniel, who had powered past Vettel when the German made a mistake and ran wide at the Le Beausset corner.
Daniel, though, was struggling with a mechanical problem, as an issue with his car’s front wing grew steadily worse throughout the race.
Behind, Raikkonen’s pit stop had dropped him to fifth place behind Vettel, but with supersoft tyres on board the Finn was suddenly lapping much quicker than his team-mate and eventually Vettel moved aside to let him past.
That opened the way for Raikkonen to attack Daniel as his pace allied to the problems being experienced by Daniel. The Finn was eventually able to steal the final podium place on lap 46.
Sixth-placed Sainz was the next man in trouble and with a handful of laps from home he reported a loss of power. He was quickly passed by Magnussen and Bottas, and dropped to eighth place, eight seconds ahead of team-mate Niko Hulkenberg.
And that was how it stayed, with Hamilton crossing the line after 53 laps to take his 65th career grand prix victory ahead of Verstappen and Raikkonen. Ricciardo was fourth, with Vettel fifth ahead of Haas’ Kevin Magnussen, Bottas, Sainz, Renault’s Hulkenberg and Sauber’s Charles Leclerc.
The result means that Hamilton now heads the drivers’ standings with 145 points, 14 clear of Vettel. Daniel moves back to third place with 96 points, four clear of Bottas, while Max is sixth with 68 points, 15 behind Raikkonen.
OUR RACE IN NUMBERS:
14 – Career podium finishes for Max.
30 – Points for the team at the Circuit Paul Ricard. Only Mercedes leave with more, with 31.
153 – Podium finishes for the team and five this season from eight races.
French Grand Prix - Race Result:
- Lewis Hamilton
- MAX VERSTAPPEN
- Kimi Räikkönen
- DANIEL RICCIARDO
- Sebastian Vettel
- Kevin Magnussen
- Valteri Bottas
- Carlos Sainz
- Nico Hülkenberg
- Charles Leclerc