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Lewis Hamilton feels joie de vivre as he wins the French Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton (Photo by Marco Canoniero/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Roar Pro
24th June, 2019
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It was a sunny Sunday in the south of France and the action on track was just as hot.

While both Mercedes comfortably stayed ahead of the rest of the field, Carlos Sainz got a good slipstream and was able to jump his teammate, Lando Norris, around the outside of turn 1.

Further behind, Daniel Ricciardo initially got away well, pulling alongside Sebastian Vettel but he was very cautious into turn 1, allowing both Pierre Gasly and Antonio Giovinazzi to get past him into turn 1.

As the drivers headed into turn 3, Sergio Perez locked his front right and went off the track. However, despite following the official procedure of re-entering the track after going past the bollard, Perez gained two positions and was awarded a five-second time penalty by the stewards for leaving the track and gaining an advantage.

The stewards’ decision confused Racing Point’s team principal, Otmar Szafnauer, who told Sky Sports’ David Croft and Martin Brundle, “I’m not really sure what else Checo [Perez] was meant to do. The way I saw it was Checo did what he was told to do [before the race].”

The two Williams of George Russell and Robert Kubica had a bit of wheel-to-wheel action with one another as Russell attempted to overtake Kubica around the outside of Signes Corner. Russell was unable to get past as he ran out of road and stayed behind Kubica for the rest of the race.

Daniel Ricciardo was one of the first to come into the pits to try for the overcut over Pierre Gasly, who pitted on the following lap. At first, it looked as if the over-cut didn’t work as Gasly came out ahead of Ricciardo but the Australian was able to breeze past Gasly comfortably on the Mistral Straight.

Daniel Ricciardo Renault

Renault driver Daniel Ricciardo (photo by Stephen Blackberry/Action Plus via Getty Images)

Ricciardo’s former teammate, Max Verstappen, was fighting with the Ferraris once again this afternoon and he also aimed for the over-cut which was successful as Vettel was behind Verstappen once both drivers had made their pit stop. Leclerc, meanwhile, was comfortably ahead of the two in third position.

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Another great battle was emerging between Kimi Raikkonen in the Alfa Romeo and Nico Hulkenberg in the Renault. Hulkenberg was certainly given a run for his money as he came on team radio to say, “Jesus, these guys [Alfa Romeo] are fast down the straight.”

Raikkonen went for the undercut, which was successful as when Hulkenberg pitted a few laps afterwards, Raikkonen was a few seconds ahead of him.

Then came drama for Lando Norris in the McLaren as he suffered from hydraulic problems. Firstly, he was told over the team radio that he was not allowed to use DRS, even if available. It is thought that there might not have been enough hydraulic pressure to open the DRS flap and that the team were concerned that the DRS flap would not close.

Then, Norris reported bad upshifts and was told that this was part of the hydraulic problems. The problem only got worse as he was then told that the car was going to become more unstable and that the steering would become heavier.

Finally, to top it all off, Norris was being pursued by Ricciardo, Raikkonen and Hulkenberg. Ricciardo made an overtake around the outside of Norris into the chicane on the Mistral Straight but took all four wheels off the track.

When he came back on the track, Ricciardo nudged Norris off the track, allowing the Australian as well as Raikkonen and Hulkenberg to get past the wounded McLaren.

Ricciardo was passed by Raikkonen but was able to get back past on the exit of the chicane although he did take all four wheels over the white line once again.

The stewards decided to investigate this incident.

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Unfortunately, for the TV viewers at home, the TV director decided that this was not the battle to watch live, instead cutting to the not-so-exciting battle between Bottas and Leclerc. Daniel Ricciardo remarked that this was a poor decision in his post-race interview.

Out front, it was another 1-2 finish for Mercedes with Lewis Hamilton taking the chequered flag. There were crumbs of comfort for Lando Norris, who won driver of the day, and Sebastian Vettel, who got the bonus point for setting the fastest lap of the race.

Hamilton told Martin Brundle, “It’s definitely been a really good weekend. This has been our best start to the year so we’ve got to enjoy it.”

Hamilton has now extended his lead in the drivers’ championship to 36 points while Mercedes have extended their lead in the constructors’ championship to 140 points over Ferrari.

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There’s not long to wait until the Austrian Grand Prix, which takes place next week at the Red Bull Ring in the picturesque Styrian Mountains.