Ferrari debacle, Leclerc in rage: Verstappen stays cool in the hot crash festival

Ferrari debacle, Leclerc in a rage

Verstappen stays cool in the hot crash festival

Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen wins the French GP after the Ferrari star crashes out of the race while in the lead. Lewis Hamilton shows a strong performance, Mercedes manages the first double podium of the season. Schumacher survives an accident, Vettel drives inconspicuously.

Max Verstappen coldly exploited a serious blunder by Charles Leclerc and fought back in a heated world championship duel with the Ferrari star. The world champion won the French Grand Prix in the heat of Le Castellet and celebrated his seventh triumph in the twelfth race of the season – he benefited from a mistake by Leclerc, who retired while in the lead and sees his chances of the world title dwindling again.

“That’s unacceptable,” Leclerc raged after his failure. “That was unfortunate for Charles, I hope he’s fine,” said Verstappen: “I just drove my race. There’s still some work to do, we’ll just keep going.” The beneficiary was not only Verstappen, who is now 63 points ahead of Leclerc, but also Lewis Hamilton: The record world champion drove an outstanding second place in his 300th Grand Prix in the premier class and thus the best result in this difficult season so far. The Mercedes driver was on the podium for the fourth time in a row, ahead of his compatriot and teammate George Russell. After the impressions from Friday and Saturday, that was quite surprising, in practice and qualifying the Silver Arrows were still well behind the leaders.

The fact that Carlos Sainz in the second Ferrari drove up from penultimate to fifth place was little consolation after the bitter disappointment with Leclerc. Some parts had been replaced on the Spaniard’s car, which is why he had to start from the back. Mick Schumacher also experienced a used weekend in Haas. After finishing in the points at Silverstone and Spielberg, he ended up at the end of the field this time. Even before he was forced to spin after being pushed by the Chinese Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo), Schumacher was clearly behind. Sebastian Vettel (Heppenheim) in the Aston Martin also missed the top ten and didn’t get a point.

error without pressure

Leclerc had set the route for the rest of the season in the run-up to the weekend. After numerous blunders and technical failures, he now has to deliver “perfectly” and “don’t afford to make any more mistakes”. At first it looked as if the 24-year-old could stand up to Verstappen. He stayed in front at the start, and although Verstappen repeatedly tried to overtake with the support of DRS in the first laps, the Ferrari driver confidently maintained his lead. The two quickly set themselves apart from the rest of the field and were in their own league.

But Leclerc did not make the crucial mistake under pressure from Verstappen: the Dutchman came into the pits on lap 18 to try to make up time with fresh tires. Alone in the lead, Leclerc then spun and slid into the barriers. A stuck accelerator pedal may have been the cause. While Leclerc roared his frustration, Verstappen radioed into the box: “Is he okay?” The Monegasse was physically fine, but also pissed off about this annoying mistake.

In any case, Verstappen used this through ball and managed the race at the top with confidence. The world champion was not threatened by Hamilton, so the Red Bull driver could concentrate on chasing the extra point for the fastest race lap. In the end, only 16 of the 20 riders finished.

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