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Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton took control of the 2019 French Grand Prix and from the looks of it…with complete and utter ease.
The Mercedes driver took a commanding lights-to-flag victory on the Circuit Paul Ricard track at Le Castellet, making it his fourth straight win and sixth triumph overall in eight races this season.
Although Hamilton complained that a part of his seat was broken during the race and about the feel of the hard tyres, that didn’t appear to slow the British racer down one bit as he traded fastest laps with team mate Valtteri Bottas.
He crossed the line 18 seconds clear of Bottas to win the race, leaving the Fin to come in second and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc placing third, making it his second straight podium.
Hamilton was overjoyed, stating that although he has been racing a long, long time that it just never gets old.
“It’s always a challenge out there and I just love trying to find the edge, and really being on top of this machine,” said Hamilton. “This is actually an awesome track to drive in the race and there are some really technical areas. It may look easy from the outside but it wasn’t easy at all, everything’s always on the edge.
“So, when I could, I was saving tyres, saving the engine, saving fuel. I had quite big blisters on my front tyres which I was a little worried about. But we got to the end and I couldn’t do it without this incredible team. I’m so proud of everyone and so proud to be part of this group of people. This has been the best start of the year so we have got to enjoy it.”
While Hamilton seems to be pleased with the win, he does feel some sympathy for F1 fans who are itching to see more exciting racing.
“If you say it’s boring, I totally understand it,” Hamilton said after his win. “Don’t blame the drivers. We don’t write the rules.”
Unlike the fans, Toto Wolff, team principal and CEO of Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, is thrilled with Hamilton’s performance and had nothing but high praise for the 34-year-old driver.
“In terms of car and driver performance, that was one of our best of the season,” said Wolff. “Lewis drove a really good race. He was in complete control at the front and it was a truly faultless performance by him.
“Valtteri struggled a little in the second stint and he lost a chunk of time under the VSC towards the end, so Charles could get very close in the end. I am really pleased for the team. It’s been a tough few weeks with a lot of long days but we are relentless and will continue to push. To score another 1-2 finish is an incredible result and a credit to all the hard work and effort of this team. Now, we look to Austria this coming Sunday, which is coming home for me. It’s a power track there and we have been a bit marginal on cooling. It’s meant to be very warm there, so we expect this to be a much harder fight.”
Leclerc's Ferrari team mate Sebastian Vettel came in fifth and had secured the fastest lap. He also clinched the bonus point that comes with it on his final lap. Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen finished in fourth, while McLaren’s Carlos Sainz finished sixth.
Sainz’s team mate, Lando Norris, was set for seventh, but due to a late hydraulics issues and having to drive off track, he placed ninth. Alfa Romeo Racing’s Kimi Raikkonen came in seventh and Renault Sport’s Nico Hulkenberg placed eighth.