Red Bull Racing’s reigning world champion wins for the second year in a row at the Circuit Paul Ricard and extends his Drivers’ Championship lead to a whopping 63 points after Ferrari faltered.
Another sweltering European summer’s day and strategic options that could snooker Ferrari, and Verstappen was up for the fight against pole-sitter Charles Leclerc. As it turned out, it was a fight that never eventuated.
Verstappen’s seventh win of the season was his second in succession at the Circuit Paul Ricard and extended his world championship lead to 63 points. However, it wasn’t in the manner anyone saw coming, or how the Dutchman particularly wanted. For the seventh time this season, Leclerc started a Grand Prix from pole and for the third time in those seven races, the Monegasque driver didn’t see the chequered flag.
The key moment came on Lap 18, after an opening stint to the race where Verstappen stalked Leclerc, the pair in a class of their own and clearing off from the rest of the field. Two laps after Verstappen had pitted, Leclerc was preparing for his own first stop, but never made it to pit lane. The Ferrari crashed heavily into the Turn 11 barriers, the third time this year (after the Spanish and Azerbaijan Grands Prix) he’s retired when leading a race.
Russell emerged ahead of Verstappen’s team-mate Perez after a ferocious late-race battle, the Mexican finishing fourth after recovering from a tardy start that dropped him behind Hamilton in the first corner from third on the grid.
Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP), Scuderia Ferrari 24.07.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 12, French Grand Prix, Paul Ricard, France, Race Day. – www.xpbimages.com
The Mexican looked set to play a role in Verstappen’s pursuit of Leclerc, but was jumped by Hamilton off the start and couldn’t get by the Mercedes again in the early going. He inherited third when Leclerc retired, but came under heavy pressure from Russell in the closing stages and the Briton jumped ahead when racing resumed after the virtual safety car, just three laps from the finish.
Budapest awaits the F1 travelling roadshow for the Hungarian Grand Prix next weekend, July 31. It’s the fourth race in five weekends and always has a ‘school’s out’ vibe as the final round before F1 enjoys a month-long summer break before Belgium at the end of August.
The twisting, tyre-torturing Hungaroring circuit on the outskirts of Budapest is one of the longer-standing ‘modern’ tracks on the calendar, having debuted in 1986. It’s been likened to ‘Monaco without the walls’ for its 14-turn layout where one corner rapidly precedes the next and the drivers are only really able to rest on the downhill 900m start-finish straight that leads into the Turn 1 hairpin, the best bet for overtaking.
Source Red Bull Magazine