Charles Leclerc seemed in full control of the French Grand Prix on Sunday at Le Castellet, but, for the third time this season, he was forced to retire while he was in the lead. He thus offered victory to Max Verstappen, who took an almost insurmountable lead in the standings.
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The Ferrari driver slipped on the track on worn tires from around twenty laps. He did try to correct his trajectory with a turn of the wheel, but he found himself stuck in the wall.
Starting from the top position, Leclerc needed this victory to approach Verstappen (Red Bull) in the standings. However, the latter rather inherited first place, when he seemed unable to regularly overtake his Monegasque rival. The reigning world champion now has a 63-point lead in the standings.
It’s not Leclerc’s first mistake this season, and the youngster hasn’t been very kind to himself in the paddocks.
“We will do the accounts at the end of the season, but hey, it’s sure that if we miss 25 or 30 points [en fin de saison]with Imola’s error too, in all, I know where it will come from, so I can only blame myself,” he said, according to the Motorsport website.
“We’ll see at the end of the championship, but if I stay at this level, it’s sure that I don’t deserve to win this championship. The level is very high, but hey, two errors, between Imola and here, it hurts. We still have to analyze what happened with the car, because in fact I couldn’t put the reverse gear. But hey, these are details, you should not put a car in the wall before that.
The two Mercedes drivers, Lewis Hamilton and George Russell in order, climbed on the podium. Behind, Carlos Sainz (Ferrari), started from the 19e position after Ferrari had changed a few parts of its power unit, pulled off a great operation by finishing fifth.
Lance Stroll resists
Lance Stroll demonstrated what he was capable of as soon as the red lights went out at the French Formula 1 Grand Prix, gaining no less than five positions during the first loop. Party 15ehe thus finished 10e.
These five places won are also the only ones obtained by the Quebecer, who was notably unable to attempt an overtaking maneuver at the expense of Esteban Ocon or Daniel Ricciardo, despite the use of the drag reduction system (DRS ) during his first stint.
A subscriber to excellent starts, Stroll managed to compensate for a lack of pure speed in his car during the most recent qualifying.
“We had a great first lap, which set us up for a great race,” said Stroll, according to a statement from his Aston Martin team. I also failed [dépasser] Ocon, but it was important to have a good start.
A significant degradation of the hard tires in the last part of the event forced him to slow down, the time to stabilize the overheating of the rubbers. If he kept Ricciardo alert during the last laps, he was unable to overtake him, being himself annoyed by the pressure of his teammate Sebastian Vettel during the last turns.
“I felt I had some momentum in the closing stages to eventually catch Ricciardo. We continue our trend of being more competitive on Sundays [qu’en qualifications]so it’s a good platform heading into the summer break.”
“I had a hitch on the exit on the last lap, as I was struggling with my tires at the very end. It was a good fight with Sebastian, but the most important thing was to get a point for the team.
The Quebecer therefore collects a fourth point this season, all obtained by 10are places, and he considers that this result was interesting in view of the summer holidays. However, he remains 11 points behind Vettel.
Be that as it may, team principal Mike Krack retains good things from this French stopover with a view to the Hungarian GP, in a week, but also for the return from the summer holidays at the end of August.
“Having two cars in the points would have been great, but it wasn’t meant to be,” Krack said. Still, our race pace was decent and our reliability was good, and it’s a solid base to advance to the Hungaroring – a circuit that we think might suit our car better than Paul-Ricard.