French GP 2022: Verstappen strides ahead in title race as Leclerc crashes out 

Max Verstappen (Red Bull) has won the 2022 French F1 GP this Sunday with ease. Mercedes´s Lewis Hamilton and George Russell completed the podium at the Paul Ricard Circuit. 

Checo Pérez took a disappointing fourth place. The Mexican driver lost third position to Russell unexpectedly following a mistake from the race director in the announcement of a virtual safety car period finish during the final laps. 

Carlos Sainz (Ferrari), on the other hand, has come back fourteen positions and performed nineteen overtakings to finish in fifth. The Spaniard has also claimed the fastest lap. This is a great result for Sainz. It could, however, have been a lot better if his team had not hesitated with the strategy during the final moments of the race. The Maranello team has once again not been clear about how to manage the race and its pit stops.

The biggest loser of the day, however, was his teammate Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) who crashed out of the race and into the barriers while in the lead, due to a supposed driving mistake… or throttle issues. Another blank result for the young Monegasque and a big setback in his battle for the World Championship.  

All in all, a perfect outcome for Verstappen. The flying Dutchman has further increased his lead of the standings up to 63 points with his seventh victory of the year (Verstappen & Red Bull won in Saudi Arabia, Emilia-Romagna, Miami & Spain & Azerbaijan & Canada) and twenty-seventh of his Formula One career.

Leclerc holds on to the pole at the start  

Leclerc and Verstappen managed to hold on to their first and second starting positions as the lights went out on the French F1 GP 2022. Checo Pèrez, on the other hand, gave up third place to Hamilton. Similarly, Norris dropped from fifth to seventh place, while Alonso gained two places by gobbling up Russell and Norris. 

After the first five laps, Leclerc and Verstappen had opened a 4.4s distance with Hamilton who had Pérez hot on his heels. The Dutchman was suffocating the Monegasque with his relentless pursuit which continued for three more laps at which point they were separated by just half a second. By the fifteenth lap, however, that distance had risen to 1.7 seconds.

 Leclerc crashes 

A defining moment for the French GP 2022 and probably the World Championship itself, came on lap eighteen, just one lap after Verstappen had changed his medium compounds for hard ones. Leclerc lost control of his car on the 11th curve and crashed against the barriers bidding goodbye to the race and perhaps to his title hopes as well. 

The incident triggered a safety car, which Sainz took advantage of to carry out his first pit stop. After a bad mechanical intervention, the Spaniard returned to the track in a very dangerous shape and nearly collided with a Williams.

That dangerous manoeuvre resulted in a five-second penalty that would slow his ascent. The safety car left on lap 20, and just three turns later, Verstappen was already 2.5 seconds ahead of Hamilton followed by Pérez, 1.2s behind in third, and Russel 1.4s further back.


Verstappen cruises to the finish line 

Halfway through the French F1 GP 2022, Verstappen was dominating the race with an eleven-second lead over the seven-time champion. The race then stabilized until lap 49 when a fault in Guanyu Zhou’s Alfa Romeo triggered a virtual safety car, slightly altering the peace of the pack. Confused by an unacceptable mistake by the race director, who announced the end of the virtual safety car twice, Pérez was overtaken by Russell. 

With three laps left to the end the race finally stabilised. The Mexican driver tried to overtake the young Briton unsuccessfully. By then, Max had already crossed the finish line ten seconds ahead of Hamilton.

Images of French F1 GP 2022: FIA.


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