Lewis Hamilton extended his lead at the top of the Formula 1 drivers’ championship with a dominant victory at the French Grand Prix.
His Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas finished second narrowly beating Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who caught the Finn to set up a tense final lap.
After launching well off the line, Hamilton led all 53 laps at Paul Ricard extending his lead to over 15 seconds at the chequered flag.
The sixth Mercedes one-two finish of the season seemed guaranteed for the majority of the race, with Leclerc unable to close in on Bottas throughout the opening stint and start of the medium tyre run.
But with blisters developing on the front tyres of both Hamilton and Bottas, Ferrari’s Leclerc managed to close in on the second-place Mercedes over the final handful of laps, as Bottas struggled to fire the tyres up following a bollard induced virtual safety car period.
Leclerc closed to within DRS range on the final lap but could not attempt a pass at the heavy braking zone at Turn 8 and had to settle for third.
Starting from seventh on the grid, Leclerc’s team-mate Sebastian Vettel managed to clear the McLaren duo of Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz Jr in the first seven laps.
He extended his opening stint 10 laps further than his closest rival Max Verstappen, eventually forced to pit after a lock up at Turn 1.
Emerging from the pits several seconds behind Verstappen, Vettel was unable to make an impression on the Dutchman in the closing stages and the Red Bull driver finished a comfortable fourth.
Vettel made a free pitstop for soft tyres with two laps remaining in order to pinch the fastest lap point on the last tour of the race.
Sainz recorded McLaren’s equal best result of the season in sixth place, while it was heartbreak for Norris in the closing stages.
Norris had been on course to finish seventh before a hydraulic issue emerged with a third of the race remaining.
Firstly told not to use DRS, Norris then struggled with upshifts and differential. He entered the final lap with a queue of cars behind him as Daniel Ricciardo, Kimi Raikkonen and Nico Hulkenberg all threatened.
Ricciardo used DRS to pass Norris on the Mistral Straight but missed his braking point at Turn 8. Sailing off the track he rejoined and forced Norris wide over the kerb on the exit.
That allowed Raikkonen passed both of them and Hulkenberg to clear Norris.
Ricciardo than mounted an attack on Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo on the corner exit. The Renault driver re-passed Raikkonen on the run to the high-speed Signes corner, but had to go over the white line on the inside of the track to do so.
The incident is under investigation with the provisional result reading Ricciardo in seventh, ahead of Raikkonen and Hulkenberg, with the unfortunate Norris rounding out the top 10.
Starting on the unfavoured soft tyre, Pierre Gasly could only manage 11th for Red Bull, having to resist late race pressure from Racing Point’s Sergio Perez.