Max Verstappen has won the French Grand Prix in convincing fashion, after race leader Charles Leclerc crashed out in early proceedings. Verstappen claimed the win by over 10 seconds from Lewis Hamilton, with a tight battle between George Russell and Sergio Perez seeing the British driver take the final step on the podium with an overtake for third with three laps remaining.
Leclerc lost control of his car on Lap 18 whilst leading the race, resulting in his Ferrari spinning into the Turn 11 wall at speed. The incident makes it the third time the Monegasque driver has received a DNF whilst leading a race this season.
Carlos Sainz drove well after starting 19th on the grid and rounded out the top five. The Ferrari driver looked on for a potential podium with 10 laps remaining, but was let down by poor strategy from his team who called him in for a stop. An unsafe release on an earlier stop also compounded matters, serving Sainz with a five second penalty.
Fernando Alonso ran also ran an impressive race to finish sixth, ahead of Lando Norris, Esteban Ocon in his home grand prix, Daniel Ricciardo and Lance Stroll respectively.
Along with Leclerc, four other drivers were forced to retire from the event, with Kevin Magnussen, Yuki Tsunoda, Zhou Guanyu and Nicholas Latifi all failing to finish.
Leclerc started well from pole, as did Verstappen alongside, allowing them both to maintain their positions after the first lap. Lewis Hamilton ran with the leaders after a great start, pipping Perez to run third. It was a relatively drama-free opening lap, with the exception being a spin for Yuki Tsunoda after contact from Esteban Ocon, who received a five second penalty for causing the incident.
The two leaders quickly pulled away from Hamilton, developing a lead of over four seconds by the end of Lap 4. Perez challenged the seven-time world champion for third but overtaking proved challenging preventing this from happening in early race stages.
Verstappen faced similar challenges in his battle for the lead, running within DRS range of Leclerc through the opening 12 laps yet unable to complete a move.
The Red Bull of Verstappen was the first of the leaders to stop on Lap 16, with the rest of the field following two laps later when a safety car was triggered.
The drama was on Lap 18 for race leader Charles Leclerc, who crashed out of the race and relinquished the lead to Hamilton. The field immediately took advantage of the safety car for pit stops, which saw Verstappen emerge as the lead driver.
Leclerc was in clear air up front when he lost control and went spinning into the barriers at Turn 11. Leclerc admitted driver error caused the crash.
Sainz went about picking off the field after starting from the rear of the grid and was sitting fifth after Lap 22. An unsafe release, however, hampered this charge when the Ferrari pit crew released him in front of Alex Albon resulting in a five second penalty.
From here Verstappen pulled away from the field over the mid and later stages of the race and created a 10 second lead over Hamilton. Perez remained a further seven seconds back and was challenged over the later stages by Russell. A sloppy restart after a virtual safety car cost Perez, allowing Russell an easy overtake.
The win see Verstappen extend his lead at the top of the championship whilst allowing Perez and Sainz to gain ground on second placed Leclerc.