It was a story of mixed fortunes for the title contenders at the 2022 French Grand Prix, with Max Verstappen taking his seventh victory of the year as driver error cost race leader Charles Leclerc. No prizes for guessing which respective section these two fit into this week – but who else did well or was disappointed by Paul Ricard?
Winner: Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen was not convinced at the end of the French Grand Prix that he could have taken victory over Charles Leclerc if the Monegasque had not crashed (and yes, we are getting there).
Once that Leclerc-shaped hurdle was removed, however, Verstappen was able to manage his pace to cross the 10 line towards good 2021 title rival Lewis Hamilton. It was his seventh victory of the season and his second consecutive victory at Paul Ricard. He also now has a 63-point advantage in the drivers standings, meaning he could sit out two Grands Prix and still top the standings. It’s a pretty soft cushion.
READ MORE: 63-point championship lead ‘probably bigger than it should have been’, admits Verstappen after French GP win
Loser: Charles Leclerc
It was the cry heard around the world when Charles Leclerc lost the rear of his Ferrari F1-75 while crossing the Double Droite du Beausset and crashed into the barriers.
Luckily, Leclerc wasn’t physically injured, but his mood certainly took a hit. The Monegasque driver was generally self-critical when he confronted the media afterwards, saying that if he drove like that he didn’t deserve to be 2022 world champion. Honest stuff from Leclerc, who loses the aforementioned 63 points in the standings, and is only seven points ahead of Sergio Perez.
READ MORE: ‘I’m losing too many points’, says Leclerc as he’s blamed for ‘unacceptable’ mistake that cost him his head in France
Despite their oft-cited struggles in 2022, Mercedes scored remarkably consistent podium finishes. But the French Grand Prix was the first time Lewis Hamilton and George Russell have stepped onto the grandstand together this year.
Hamilton made his 300th start to edge Perez, moving into P2 once Leclerc crashed, while Russell’s own heated tussle with Perez was settled in his favor when he successfully restarted the safety car virtual and overtook the Mexican. No wonder team principal Toto Wolff called it “the maximum” they could have achieved.
The much-anticipated AlphaTauri upgrade arrived in time for Pierre Gasly’s home race – but after racing in the top 10 on Friday the local boy’s performance plummeted from there. Gasly left Q1 on Saturday before finishing a disappointed (and sweaty) P12 at the flag on Sunday.
Yuki Tsunoda passed qualifying for his first Q3 since Baku but had his race canceled by lap 1 contact with Esteban Ocon, the Japanese driver who retired from the race on lap 20 given his mounting damage. It has now been four pointless races for AlphaTauri, with their dreams of finishing P5 at the constructors this year looking increasingly distant.
READ MORE: What the teams said – Race day in France
Fernando Alonso has completed the most laps of any F1 driver halfway through the 2022 French Grand Prix – and this experience showed it, as he baited the McLarens behind him in order to deliberately injure their tires , before crossing the P6 line, for his second top-six of 2022.
Ocon, meanwhile, picked up his first points in his home run with P8, recovering from that contact with Tsunoda and the accompanying five-second penalty to secure double points for Alpine at home, steering away the team four points ahead of McLaren. for P4 from manufacturers.
2022 French Grand Prix: Tsunoda spins against Ocon in the 1st round
Loser: Zhou Guanyu
Alfa Romeo never really looked into the Paul Ricard mix. But while Valtteri Bottas’ Sunday was uneventful, Zhou Guanyu’s was action-packed for all the wrong reasons.
A poor start – another issue Alfa appears to be struggling with – was made worse by contact with Mick Schumacher’s Haas, which earned Zhou a five-second penalty. It was made academic when another technical issue for the team saw it retire with six laps remaining.
READ MORE: ‘It’s huge for us’ – Hamilton ‘couldn’t really be happier’ with P2 finish at 300th Grand Prix at Paul Ricard
Winner: Carlos Sainz
Carlos Sainz looked in the best shape he’s had all year at Paul Ricard, which made it a bit frustrating for the Spaniard that a back-of-the-grid start was required to change components from the power unit.
He made the most of it, however, climbing from P19 to P3, before making a second save and serving a dangerous five-second release penalty from the first. That left him fifth at the flag – a result he said he would “take”, although he felt that with a perfect race a podium finish was possible.
READ MORE: Sainz defends Ferrari strategy after late pitstop saw him finish fifth in French GP recovery race
Both Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher showed some truly impressive flashes of pace at times during the French Grand Prix weekend. But neither would net the team any points, ending a streak of two consecutive top-10 double finishes for Haas.
Magnussen had a blistering start to climb from 20th to 13th by the end of the first lap but struggled to find the rhythm afterwards, before contact with Nicholas Latifi ruled him out. Schumacher – who exited in Q1 on Saturday after a lap time deletion – was also struggling to progress when he was knocked down by Zhou, leaving him 15th at the checkered flag.
Winner: Aston Martin
Points have been a rare commodity at Aston Martin this year, and with both drivers starting outside the top 10 on race day, their prospects – contrary to the weather – didn’t look too hot.
But a blistering start from Lance Stroll propelled the Canadian to 10th place, the position in which he would finish at the flag for his fourth point of the season. Sebastian Vettel was only one place behind, on a weekend when Aston Martin celebrated 100 years since entering the 1922 French Grand Prix in Strasbourg.
FACTS & STATS: Verstappen equals Stewart’s win tally, as Alonso breaks Raikkonen’s record
2022 French Grand Prix: teammates Stroll and Vettel face off on the last lap
An 8th place finish for Alex Albon in Free Practice 1 and 3 left Williams daring to hope for more points this weekend – with both cars now fitted with the team’s heavyweight upgrade pack.
But Albon was unable to progress from his P13 grid position, finishing there with the flag. On paper, Latifi had the most disappointing race after contact with Magnussen put him out of the race. But the Canadian had been delighted with his acceleration before the crash, saying his season had now started in earnest… so all is not so bad.
HIGHLIGHTS: Relive the action of a dramatic French Grand Prix, as Verstappen capitalizes on Leclerc’s misfortune
There were undoubtedly mixed emotions for McLaren over their breakfast croissants this morning, having been convincingly outplayed by Alpine on Sunday at Paul Ricard, Lando Norris finishing behind Fernando Alonso in P7 and Daniel Ricciardo behind Esteban Ocon in P9.
But they’re in the winners’ section, so let’s look at the positives, which were (in no particular order): Norris’ superb lap to claim P5 on the grid; Daniel Ricciardo scoring consecutive points for the first time this year; and the introduction on both cars of a massive new upgrade package – with the McLaren Technology Center servers likely to spin up this week as the team processes all that data and tries to make a step forward for the Hungary this weekend.