Lewis Hamilton reclaimed the world championship lead with a dominant victory in the French Grand Prix. The Mercedes driver led from start to finish other than one lap around his pit stop to move 14 points ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who finished fifth. Vettel made life difficult for himself with a collision at the first corner with Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
The German fought back through the field impressively but earned a five-second penalty for causing the crash, which put both to the back of the field. It was a costly error for Vettel, who was one point ahead of Hamilton before the race, and not the first one he has made this year that has cost him ground in the championship.
Hamilton will welcome the gift from Vettel at the start of a crucial run of three races in three weeks, one of them the British Grand Prix in two weeks’ time, and five in six before the four-week summer break in August. 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 car, leapt away at the re-start and was never seen again.
Hamilton was able to build a comfortable gap to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen behind him in second place for the entire race and then cruise and conserve to the finish. Vettel, at the back after a pit stop to repair the front wing damaged in the crash with Bottas made light work of the backmarkers, starting with a light tap as he passed Fernando Alonso’s McLaren at Turn Three at the re-start, which nudged the Spaniard into a spin. Vettel was 11th by lap 10, eighth by lap 15, and fifth by lap 20, at the back of the lead group.