Max Verstappen took advantage of a crash for championship rival Charles Leclerc to win the French Grand Prix and increase his lead at the top of the standings.
Ferrari driver Leclerc had been leading the race after starting from pole and looking like a good bet for the win. He had managed to repel the challenge from Verstappen in the early laps and had started to pull away at the front as the Dutchman pitted for fresh tyres.
However, Leclerc’s race came to an abrupt end on lap 18 when he spun out at turn 11 and ended up in the wall. The Monegasque driver’s anguish on the team radio was all too clear as he knew this was another result that had been thrown away. While Ferrari had been at fault in previous races, this time it was Leclerc who had made the costly mistake.
Leclerc’s demise left Verstappen with a straightforward win at the Circuit Paul Ricard with little challenge from behind.
Lewis Hamilton came home in second place for his best result of the season with team-mate George Russell taking third ahead of Sergio Perez.
Verstappen’s win was his seventh of the season and he now leads the driver’s standings by 63 points. Red Bull also stretched their lead in the constructor’s championship to 82 points ahead of Ferrari.
With Verstappen clear at the front and Hamilton comfortable in second, the action at the end of the race was provided by George Russell and Sergio Perez as they battled for the last place on the podium. The British driver managed to outsmart the Mexican driver at the end of a virtual safety car period to move into third and make it two Mercedes drivers on the podium for the first time this season.
Leclerc’s team-mate Carlos Sainz started the race at the back of the grid because of an engine penalty and made a great recovery drive to finish fifth. However, it could have been even better for the Spaniard as his team called him into the pits with 10 laps to go when running third. It was another example of a questionable strategy from the Italian team which has cost them at times this season.
The next round of the championship takes place in Hungary this coming weekend.