Championship leader Max Verstappen eased to a comfortable win in the French Grand Prix on Sunday after Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc crashed out while leading the race.
Red Bull’s Verstappen cruised home over 10 seconds ahead of Lewis Hamilton whose Mercedes teammate George Russell overtook the Red Bull of Sergio Perez in the closing laps to claim third.
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“That’s an incredible result for the team. Great job George,” said a jubilant Hamilton.
Verstappen’s seventh win of the season takes him 63 points clear of Leclerc and strengthens his chances of claiming a second successive drivers’ title.
Leclerc started in pole position and was leading up to the 18th lap when the Monegasque driver spun and crashed off into the tyre barrier mid-corner at Le Beausset, the 11th turn.
It was Leclerc’s third retirement while leading a race this season after Spain and Azerbaijan.
Later, Leclerc said the crash was caused by his mistake.
“A mistake. I’ve been saying I think I’m performing at my highest level in my career but if I keep doing those mistakes then it’s pointless to perform at a very high level. I’m losing too many points,” he told Sky Sports television.
“We probably were the strongest car on track today so if we lose the Championship by 32 points at the end of the season I will know from where they are coming from.
“And it’s unacceptable, I just need to get on top of those things.
“To me it’s a mistake and that’s it… it’s just trying to push too much and I lost the rear. It’s been a very difficult weekend for me.
“I did a mistake at the wrong moment.”
Perez finished fourth ahead of Sainz, who took a bonus point for fastest lap.
Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz, who won the British GP, was in a good position to challenge for the podium before a surprising decision to bring him into the pits late in the race left him too much do and settling for fifth
“Come on, guys, I can’t believe you told me to box then,” a frustrated Sainz said. “I don’t know why we boxed … I don’t understand.”
(With inputs from Agencies)