Hamilton wins French GP as Vettel and Bottas collide

Hamilton wins French GP as Vettel and Bottas collide

Javier Howell
June 25, 2018

Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) qualified third ahead of the two Red Bulls, and its team principal Horner is pessimistic of the chances of catching the Silver Arrows at Circuit Paul Ricard, which is hosting the race for the first time since Alain Prost's 1990 triumph.

Rain washed out most of the final French Grand Prix practice session on Saturday with Valtteri Bottas topping the timesheets for Mercedes. I was feeling fine until the last qualifying.

Moments later there was more trouble when Pierre Gasly ran his Toro Rosso into the back of Esteban Ocon's Force India, knocking them both out of the race and bringing out the safety auto.

Hamilton made a good enough start to be just clear of the crash between Vettel and Bottas at the start, and after a five-lap intervention by the safety auto, leapt away at the re-start and was never seen again. Vettel and Bottas were at the back following their repairs. "It's another case o going from a bad weekend to a good weekend for Lewis Hamilton - and he tends to do that".

The return of the French GP after a decade-long absence since its last appearance at Magny-Cours is the first part of an unprecedented tripleheader of three races on consecutive weekends.

Alonso, who was celebrating winning Le Mans just a week ago, described the result as "very disappointing".

"I trust the team, and if we have to use the older-specification engine, I am not anxious". "It was a stupid move".

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There was immediate drama on the opening lap when, at Turn One, Vettel rammed into the rear of Bottas's Mercedes in an incident that immediately required the deployment of the Safety Car. The Ferrari had made 12 places in 14 laps.

Lewis Hamilton has given the strongest indication yet that his new contract with Mercedes may finally be ready. He stopped for new tyres on lap 33, momentarily losing the lead, before regaining it when Raikkonen stopped a lap later.

While Vettel had once again come alive in qualifying, his team mate Kimi Raikkonen once again found it hard to sustain his form when it really mattered. That is where he would remain. After the race, Vettel made no attempt to shift the blame onto his rival. "I have no tyres, no brakes, and I am out of the points", the Spaniard cried. I knew I was on the inside and I was trying to get out of it.

"In the end, there wasn't that much I could have done different".

He is out of contract at the end of the year, and on the evidence of McLaren's miserable form, only money will stop him from quitting.

Mercedes Non-Executive Chairman Niki Lauda, however, was not impressed with Vettel nor his penalty, angrily calling it "an enormous mistake... My guys [Mercedes team], I have been with them for six years and they just continually push the boundaries and they're never giving up so I'm forever grateful for all their work", Hamilton said.