McLaren just doesn’t have the pace.
McLaren just doesn’t have the pace.

‘He destroyed the whole race’

LEWIS Hamilton led the grid away from pole position and as chaos unfolded behind him, the Brit made it out unscathed and cruised to the victory at the French Grand Prix.

The result hands Hamilton the championship lead over Sebastian Vettel who received a five-second penalty for causing the opening lap carnage.

It was a comfortable race from start to finish for Hamilton and wraps up a perfect day for England after their demolition job at the World Cup.

Max Verstappen climbed two places on the grid to come home second behind Hamilton with Kimi Raikkonen getting past Daniel Ricciardo in the dying laps to claim third.

Ricciardo once again suffered mechanical issues and lacked any serious pace as the race went on which left him unable to stop the pace coming from Raikkonen's Ferrari.

Victory never tasted so good.
Victory never tasted so good.

Carnage struck after only two corners when Vettel collected the rear left tyre of Valtteri Bottas with his front wing.

The hit caused Bottas to spin off of the track and the domino effect forced Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly out on the opening lap.

Race stewards were quick to hit Vettel with a five-second penalty for causing the crash and bringing out an early safety car.

After the race F1 legend Niki Lauda didn't hold back in his criticism of Vettel and the ensuing crash.

"Why Vettel only gets 5 seconds for this enormous mistake, I don't really understand. It's too little. He really destroyed the whole race for himself and for Bottas," Lauda said.

After the race restart Vettel quickly began his surge towards the podium and saw him climb all the way up into fifth place.

Unfortunately that was as good as it god for Vettel as his tyres began to fall apart and his fellow opponents showed more threatening pace.

After the earlier carnage the race lacked any genuine moments with only Ricciardo's minor duel trying to withhold Raikkonen the other key moment.

Hamilton was a happy man after the race and thanked both his team along with the nation of England.

"So happy for England as well," Hamilton said.

"I feel very grateful for a solid weekend. I've been with my guys for six years now, and they're continually pushing the boundaries"

 

1.30am

Battle for third unfolding

Daniel Ricciardo is struggling for pace as Kimi Raikkonen begins to fly around the racetrack. The combination has helped Raikkonen close the gap to under a second and only some impressive defensive driving from Ricciardo has kept him in third for the time being.

The sheer pace of the Ferrari however eventually overwhelmed the Red Bull as he pulled up alongside and then blew by him.

 

1.15am

Ricciardo gets by Vettel

The fresher tyres on Daniel Ricciardo's Red Bull helped him get the better of Sebastian Vettel who has begun to slow down after his early maneouvering.

Ricciardo currently sits third behind his teammate Max Verstappen and race leader Lewis Hamilton.

 

1.05am

Red Bull's bold strategy

The dark clouds are looming and over the radio team's have been telling drivers the rain is imminent.

Despite those warnings Red Bull have opted to put soft tyres on both Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo.

Verstappen managed to get out of the pits in front of the rampaging Sebastian Vettel, unfortunately for Ricciardo he finds himself behind Vettel in fifth place.

Lewis Hamilton leads by 19 seconds over Kimi Raikkonen with both drivers still yet to pit.

 

12.50am

Vettel continues fightback

Championship leader Sebastian Vettel isn't ready to hand the title over to Lewis Hamilton in France as the Ferrari driver begins slicing his way through the field.

After the early crash and having to pit for damage, Vettel has used his quicker tyres to blow by his opponents and made his way up into fifth spot.

With a five-second penalty hanging overhead it would be a staggering effort if he can maintain his championship lead.

Lewis Hamilton still leads by more than three seconds over Max Verstappen with Daniel Ricciardo in third place.

Hamilton was clearly told of Vettel's impressive overtaking through the field and he responded in style with races fastest lap.

 

12.30am

Ricciardo moves onto podium

After 10 laps the field is starting to spread out with Lewis Hamilton holding over a two-second gap to Max Verstappen.

A further seven seconds back is Aussie Daniel Ricciardo in third who pulled off one of his patented overtakes to move onto the podium.

Braking decidedly later than opponent Carlos Sainz, Ricciardo stole the place and began the task of chasing down his teammate.

The race stewards handed down their punishment to Sebastian Vettel for causing the chaos on the opening lap with the German receiving a five-second penalty.

 

12.10am

Opening lap 'carnage'

The Formula 1 returned to France for the first time in 10 years and the packed stands couldn't get enough of the show.

After witnessing a man zooming above the track on a futuristic jet-pack, the cars lined up and the race got underway.

Lewis Hamilton lead the grid away from pole position but behind him chaos ensued as Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas collided.

Vettel made a solid start and as the first corner approached he tried to dive down the inside of Hamilton and Bottas but collected the rear right tyre of Bottas.

The incident was being investigated by the racing stewards with Vettel in the gun for causing the carnage.

The ensuing mayhem caused Daniel Ricciardo off of the track but the carnage wasn't over.

Two of the three French drivers on the grid failed to make it halfway through the opening lap as Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly have both been forced to retire.

All of the pandemonium brought out the safety car as plenty of drivers have to dive into the pits for early repairs.

Hamilton leads the race from Max Verstappen, Carlos Sainz with Ricciardo gaining one spot into fourth.

 

9.10pm

Ultimate dummy spit

Motorsport pushes drivers to their absolute limit and with emotions at high, there have been plenty of volatile radio interactions over the years.

At the France Grand Prix however, the world's biggest dummy spit has been delivered.

Driving in the Formula 2 Championship, Haas driver Arjun Maini was supremely fed up with his team and he let them know about it.

Maini had just finished 11th in the latest race and while a lot of the message was beeped out thanks to constant expletives, the emotion in his voice sounded like he was fighting back the tears and then remarkably stated he'd had enough altogether.

"I swear you guys don't support me at all … you can't do this me … I don't want to race in this championship anymore," Maini said.

 

8.15pm

Magnussen lashes out

Kimi Raikkonen copped Kevin Magnussen’s wrath.
Kimi Raikkonen copped Kevin Magnussen’s wrath.

Kevin Magnussen has slammed Kimi Raikkonen, blaming the Ferrari star for ruining his final effort in qualifying during Q3.

Racing for Haas, Magnussen was desperate to set a time in a qualifying session that had been disrupted by teammate Romain Grosjean's crash. He overtook Raikkonen as he aimed to set a "push" lap but the Finn soon got back in front of him on the main straight ahead of turn one, before deciding to abort his lap and back out.

Raikkonen's backtrack left Magnussen fuming and he eventually finished nearly three seconds off the pace to qualify ninth fastest.

"What the f**k is he doing?" Magnussen said over the team radio, before elaborating after qualifying on why he was so angry.

"(I was) very upset. Because, what is he doing?" he said. "He f****d all his laps, he had fuel for I don't know how many laps, everyone else has fuel for one lap, so to begin with I thought he would box because he f****d his lap.

"And then he tries again immediately the lap after. Overtakes us, backed off again - then surely he's going to box. But then he tries again.

"So it's three laps in a row that he tried to push and it makes no sense. There's no way to predict what he is going to do.

"And then he obviously overtakes me into Turn 1, and f***s my lap, and doesn't even complete his lap.

"I don't know, if you're that confused, just try not to get in the way of anyone else."

FIA stewards opted against punishing Raikkonen for any interference.

 

 

8pm

'Shocking' low paints tragic picture

McLaren suffered their worst qualifying performance of the season at the French GP as both Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne were knocked out in Q1.

It is the first time both cars have been eliminated in the first segment of qualifying since last season's Azerbaijan GP, and is their most disappointing result since switching to Renault power.

McLaren were already under pressure coming into the Paul Ricard weekend following a deeply underwhelming start to the F1 2018 season.

Alonso, fresh from his Le Mans 24 Hours victory, could only manage 16th in Saturday's shootout with teammate Stoffel Vandoorne two places back.

Equipped with the same engines, the McLaren duo were 1.5 seconds adrift of the Red Bulls, while they were also half a second off the pace of Pierre Gasly's Honda-powered Toro Rosso.

"Nothing went wrong - the performance is what it is," a despondent Alonso told Sky F1. "I'm two tenths in front of the most talented young driver of the last couple of years in Stoffel so this is the pace we have.

"On Saturday, after qualifying I'm always here answering negative questions. The level of competitiveness is not at the point we want it."

And in a telling addition, Alonso insisted: "It's not a big surprise. This car is slow and we are slipping back."

Speaking later at McLaren's usual Saturday night debrief, Alonso accepted the car was "missing performance, missing grip, speed and the pace".

However, he argued that this weekend did not represent a sudden loss in single-lap performance.

It was a dark day for McLaren.
It was a dark day for McLaren.

"We were P13 in P15 in China and in Bahrain," he said. "I think I was P15 in Q1 in Canada and we are P16 today. I know it seems very different and we are all disappointed with the result with both cars out of Q1, but they are not too different compared to the average of the season. Especially on Saturdays.

"On Sundays, we are fifth in the constructors' championship and seventh in the drivers' championship. So let's see tomorrow."

While Alonso has done little to squash speculation that he could leave the team at the end of the season, Vandoorne could also be feeling the heat thanks to his 8-0 deficit to the Spaniard in the qualifying head-to-heads.

He is the only driver on the grid who has yet to beat his teammate this season.

"It's a very disappointing qualifying," admitted Vandoorne. "To have both cars eliminated in Q1 was not what we came here for.

"We just lack a lot of pace. There's a lot of work going on behind the scenes investigating what is going wrong for us."

Those sentiments were echoed by team chief Zak Brown, who said the team is "working hard and we are working very closely together".

"The car that we have put in the hands of Stoffel and Fernando is frustrating," he said. "I have seen many teams go through tough times and I can assure you McLaren will rise above it all.

"We will get this right. Probably not by next race, so everyone will have to bear with us."

Former F1 driver turned Sky Sports pundit Martin Brundle said: "I found it really shocking today.

"We haven't been here since 1990 when the likes of McLaren and Williams will have been dominating, when they would have easily the teams to beat, the dream teams that the likes of Ricciardo would have been banging their door down for.

"Now they're four of the last five runners of the grid. It's tragic."

- Matt Morlidge and James Galloway, Sky Sports

 

8pm

Qualifying results

1) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes

2) Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes

3) Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari

4) Max Verstappen, Red Bull

5) Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull

6) Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari

7) Carlos Sainz, Renault

8) Charles Leclerc, Sauber

9) Kevin Magnussen, Haas

10) Romain Grosjean, Haas


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