Lewis Hamilton scored a dominant second consecutive French Grand Prix win, finishing 18 seconds ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas as Mercedes sealed its sixth 1-2 finish in eight races. Charles Leclerc took third place for Ferrari ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
Polesitter Hamilton made a good start to take P1 ahead of Bottas, Leclerc and Verstappen. Further back, McLaren’s Carlos Sainz got away well to pass team-mate Lando Norris, but despite pulling alongside Verstappen early in the opening lap the Spaniard couldn’t steal the position.
Over the first 10 laps Hamilton built a 2.6s gap back to Bottas, who in turn eked out a 3.8s advantage over Leclerc. Behind them, Sebastian Vettel qwas the man on the move in the early stages, with the German passing both McLarens to rise to fifth from his starting position of seventh to sit 7.3s behind Verstappen as the opening stint wore on.
Verstappen was the first of the front runners to make a pit stop, with the Dutchman taking on white-banded hard compound tyres at the end of lap 20. Leclerc was next in, on the following lap, and when he rejoined, on the same compound, he was fourth, five seconds ahead of the Red Bull. Ahead, Hamilton now led Bottas by 7.5s with Vettel now third.
Bottas made his sole tyre stop on lap 23 and the Finn was followed to the pit lane by race leader Hamilton. The Briton emerged just ahead of Vettel and after locking up on the next lap the German also pitted for hard tyres, at the end of lap 25. He emerged in P5, 4.5s behind Max.
The order at the front now stabilised and over the next 15 laps Hamilton increased his lead over Bottas to 12.9 seconds, while Leclerc fell 7.2s behind the second Mercedes. Verstappen was now in a race of his own, with the Dutchman lying 6.7 seconds adrift of Leclerc and more than seven seconds clear of Vettel.
With the gaps throughout the field looking relatively fixed the race the order looked like remaining static until the chequered flag. However, a handful of laps from the finish the grand prix came alive once more, first when Norris began to suffer hydraulic problems and then when Toro Rosso’s Alex Albon clipped a bollard that had to be recovered from the track.
The Albon incident brought out the VSC, and the spell at lower speed left Bottas struggling to get heat into his tyres. Leclerc closed him down and prepared to attack.
Behind them Norris’ was caught by his rivals and on a combative final lap he was passed by Ricciardo, Räikkönen and Hulkenberg, though Ricciardo was then placed under investigation for leaving the track and gaining an advantage.
In the midst of it all, Hamilton took his 79thcareer win ahead of Bottas who denied Leclerc to claim P2 by just 0.9s. Verstappen followed to take his fifth fourth place finish of the season. Vettel finished fifth and the German also took fastest lap after a late pit stop for soft tyres. Sixth place went to Sainz, crossing the line ahead of Ricciardo, Räikkönen, Hulkenberg and Norris.
2019 FIA Formula One French Grand Prix – Race
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 18.056
3 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 18.985
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 34.905
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:02.796
6 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren 1:35.462
7 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1 Lap
8 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Racing 1 Lap
9 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1 Lap
10 Lando Norris McLaren 1 Lap
11 Pierre Gasly Red Bull Racing 1 Lap
12 Sergio Perez Racing Point 1 Lap
13 Lance Stroll Racing Point Racing Point 1 Lap
14 Daniil Kvyat Scuderia Toro Rosso 1 Lap
15 Alex Albon Scuderia Toro Rosso Toro Rosso 1 Lap
16 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing 1 Lap
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1 Lap
18 Robert Kubica Williams 2 Laps
19 George Russell Williams 2 Laps
France Romain Grosjean Haas