Max Verstappen won the French GP and for the first time this season, we have seen both Mercedes drivers on the podium: Hamilton 2nd and Russell 3rd. Sainz climbed back to 5th position and Alonso was 6th.
Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) handed victory to Max Verstappen (Red Bull) when on lap 17 he lost control of his Ferrari and crashed into the protective tyres. No one could beat Verstappen, who after this 67th victory in F1 is no less than 63 points behind Leclerc in the drivers’ championship.
On the podium alongside Verstappen we could see both Mercedes drivers for the first time this season: Lewis Hamilton crossed the line second in his 300th F1 GP and George Russell was 3rd after overtaking Checo Pérez (Red Bull) shortly before. Behind Pérez, the two Spanish drivers: Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) was 5th after climbing no less than 14 positions and Fernando Alonso (Alpine) was sixth.
On the grid, Charles Leclerc started from the front row after taking pole position on Saturday, and he did so alongside Max Verstappen. On the second row: Checo Pérez and Lewis Hamilton, with Fernando Alonso 7th and Carlos Sainz 19th, after a power unit change.
F1 GP FRANCE 2022, ARRIVAL ORDER
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull-Honda|
|4||Sergio Perez||Red Bull-Honda||17,310|
|10||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin-Mercedes||62,549|
|11||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin-Mercedes||64,494|
|14||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||76,666|
|Delay||Charles Leclerc||Aston Martin-Mercedes|
|Delay||Yuki Tsunoda||Aston Martin-Mercedes|
|The author of the fast lap is in italics|
The asphalt temperature was very high (51 degrees), which indicated that the drivers would have to manage the tires very well to make a single stop. As far as tires are concerned, only three drivers chose to use the hard ones: Bottas (11th), Gasly (14th), and Sainz (19th), the rest had the medium ones.
At the start, Leclerc kept his first position followed by Verstappen, while Pérez was overtaken by Hamilton. Fernando Alonso managed to gain two positions: he went from seventh to fifth, with Russell 6th, Norris 7th, Ricciardo 8th… Sainz was already 16th after the first lap. There was an incident in this first lap between Ocon and Tsunoda, and the former was penalized with 5 seconds. Little could Alonso endure in the fifth position, Russell surpassed him in the first laps. Behind, Sainz was recovering one place per lap: in lap 5 he was already 13th.
Verstappen began to attack Leclerc on the sixth lap of the race, he wanted the first position at the cost of everything, and the Ferrari man knew how to defend himself. Sainz for his part continued with his comeback and was already in the points on lap 12.
Verstappen made his pit stop – hard – seeing that he was separated from Leclerc by about 2 seconds, and dropped to seventh, which was soon sixth as he overtook Norris. Sainz was already ninth after overtaking Ricciardo.
And the final blow of the race came: Charles Leclerc lost control of his Ferrari due to an error and collided with the protective tires. Again Leclerc was left without victory when he was leading the race. The safety car took to the track and most of the drivers took the opportunity to change tires, Verstappen did not, nor did Vettel or Latifi. Verstappen was the new race leader, followed by Hamilton, Pérez, Russell, Alonso, Norris, and Ricciardo, with Sainz 8th. In his pit stop, Sainz was given a slow stop and also came out into the pit lane in a dangerous way, for which he was later penalized with 5 seconds.
Sainz, on the medium tires and the rest on the hard ones, beat Ricciardo, then Norris, and then Alonso. He was already fifth. His next target was Russell. Verstappen was still in the lead ahead of Hamilton, Pérez, and Russell.
On lap 30, Carlos Sainz finally managed to overtake George Russell and moved up to the fourth place. In the lead, Verstappen had set the last 3 fastest laps and was more than 4 seconds behind Hamilton, who had Pérez 2 seconds behind. Sainz was the only one of the drivers who were in the lead on medium tyres, the rest were on the hard ones, and he had Checo Pérez less than a second behind.
Finally, on lap 41, Sainz overtook Checo Pérez, who was already on the podium. Until finally Sainz entered the pits to put on a new set of tires : he served the 5-second penalty, put on half, and when he returned to the track he was ninth. It was his turn to come back and he did, setting fast laps: he first overtook Ocon, then Ricciardo, a little later Alonso, and was already fifth.
A “virtual safety car” appeared as Zhou stood at the side of the track. In Red Bull, they prepared for one more stop, but in the end, the mechanics entered the pits. Taking advantage of the fact that the VSC signal was going out, Russell caught Pérez clueless and overtook him, he was already third. On the last lap, Pérez was reluctant to lose the podium and approached Russell to overtake him, but could not beat the Mercedes. Verstappen crossed the finish line first, taking his 27th F1 victory, followed by the two Mercedes drivers: Hamilton 2nd and Russell 3rd. In fourth place is Pérez, with Sainz 5th and Alonso 6th.