Charles Leclerc has retired from the lead of a grand prix for the third time this season, as Max Verstappen took a giant leap towards defending his Formula 1 drivers’ championship.
- Charles Leclerc crashed into the wall after making a mistake on lap 18
- The Ferrari driver said he believed he had the best car during the race
- Daniel Ricciardo made it consecutive points-finishes, taking ninth
The Dutchman made the most of Ferrari’s nightmare to win the French Grand Prix, from the twin Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell in second and third.
Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo scored points for the second consecutive race, finishing ninth.
Leclerc was driving a brilliant race at the front, weathering the early storm from Verstappen to hold a nice lead.
But the Monegasque driver committed a bad error on lap 18 in the long, sweeping right-hand corner of turn 11 and spun out into the wall.
Verstappen went on to win the race in a canter and extend his lead in the drivers’ championship, while a visibly distracted Leclerc was left wondering what could have been.
“I’m losing too many points.
“We were probably the strongest car on track today.
“It’s unacceptable and I just need to get on top of these things.”
Verstappen’s victory is the 27th of his career and extended his lead over Leclerc in the championship by more than 60 points.
The Dutchman said overtaking was difficult in the hot conditions, which made it tough to pass Leclerc in the opening stages of the race.
“I think we had a good pace from the start, I was putting pressure on Charles,” Verstappen said.
“But following around here with this heat, the tires are overheating a lot.
“I could never really go for a move.”
After Leclerc’s lap 18 crash, the championship leader said tire management was his only focus.
Ricciardo’s ‘good weekend’ ends with points
Ricciardo made it two ninth-place finishes in as many races, driving a solid race in France.
The Australian started the race from ninth and flirted with the top-seven at different points of the race.
But the McLaren was not able to match the pace on the straights of the cars around him.
It is just the fourth time Ricciardo has finished in the top 10 this season.
The points finish followed a promising qualifying session the day before where Ricciardo was much closer to his teammate Lando Norris.
Former world champion Nico Rosberg told Sky Sports F1 that Ricciardo’s weekend was promising as the Australian battles poor form and speculation about his future.
“It’s a good weekend for Daniel,” he said.
“He’s on the right track to find his way again.”