Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Paul Ricard, 2022

Verstappen grabs win and points boost after Leclerc crashes out of the lead

2022 French Grand Prix summary

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Max Verstappen won the French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard after Charles Leclerc spun out and crashed while leading the race.

The two front row starters battled in the opening stint of the race, Leclerc holding off Verstappen. However, Leclerc spun at the Beusset right-hander and crashed out of the race, handing the lead to Verstappen, which he never relinquished.

Lewis Hamilton finished second and George Russell secured a double podium for Mercedes after overtaking Sergio Perez in the closing laps.

Conditions were perfect as the field lined up on the grid for what appears to be the final French Grand Prix for the foreseeable future. When the lights went out, Leclerc and Verstappen made similarly good starts, Leclerc holding the lead through the first corner.

Behind, Hamilton jumped ahead of Perez into third place, while Lando Norris fell behind both Fernando Alonso and George Russell to seventh.

Back in the pack, Esteban Ocon and Yuki Tsunoda made contact in the chicane on the Mistral Straight, sending the AlphaTauri into a spin and dropping him to the read of the field. Having started from the back of the grid, Kevin Magnussen gained seven places to jump up to 13th by the end of the first lap.

Leclerc led out front while both he and Verstappen quickly dropped Hamilton and the rest of the pack behind them. When DRS was activated on the third lap, Verstappen used the overtaking aid to stick close to the Ferrari driver, but was unable to get enough of a slipstream to have a look at the lead.

On lap six, Leclerc made a slight mistake in the chicane and allowed Verstappen to get a run on the approach to Signes. Verstappen followed closely and tried to make a move around the outside of Beausset, but Sainz held his line and kept the lead of the race.

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After his attack was repelled, Verstappen backed off from the rear of the Ferrari. He fell to around two seconds off the leader before Red Bull called him into the pits at the end of lap 16. After fitting a set of hard tyres, he rejoined in seventh place behind Norris, but quickly overtook the McLaren.

On lap 17, Leclerc suddenly lost control of his car through Beausset and spun into the tyre wall, reporting a stuck throttle on his car. He later confirmed the error and been his, which explained he deep scream of frustration on the radio before he climbed out of his car.

The Safety Car was deployed, prompting a flurry of activity in the pit lane. Hamilton and Perez both pitted, with Russell double-stacking behind his Mercedes team mate, all three switching to hard tyres. Sainz also pitted for medium tyres, but failed to leave the pit box when released. Eventually, Sainz got going, but right in the path of Alexander Albon, who had to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting the Ferrari. Sainz was later handed a five second time penalty for an unsafe release.

Having already pitted, Verstappen stayed out and collected the Safety Car with the lead. Hamilton inherited second place, still ahead of Perez in third. Russell ran fourth, ahead of Alonso and the two McLarens of Norris and Daniel Ricciardo, with Sainz eighth on fresh medium tyres.

The race restarted at the start of lap 21, with Sainz immediately passing Ricciardo for seventh place before passing sixth-placed Norris before the Mistral Chicane. One lap later, Sainz disposed of Alonso for fifth in the same manner he had overtaken Norris.

Zhou Guanyu made contact with Mick Schumacher at Beausset, pitching the Haas into a spin. Schumacher managed to continue with a slightly damaged car and Zhou was handed a five-second time penalty for the collision.

As Verstappen slowly pulled away from Hamilton out front, Sainz caught Russell’s Mercedes, eventually passing him around the outside into Signes. Then he set his sights on catching Perez for third, but appeared unable to get close enough to the Red Bull to attempt a pass.

After debating with Ferrari whether to pit, Sainz eventually got a run on the Red Bull into Signes, the pair running side-by-side but Perez successfully held off the Ferrari. However, Sainz lunged down the inside of Perez into the final corner to move into third.

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Despite now being in clear air, Ferrari opted to pit Sainz with just over 10 laps remaining for a second set of mediums. After serving his time penalty, Sainz rejoined in ninth place, but with a lot of time to make up.

Russell and Perez clashed at the chicane battling over third place, with Perez taking to the escape road and keeping the position. Russell was incensed, adamant Perez should return the position, but the stewards did not deem the incident as worthy of investigation.

Sainz passed Norris for sixth, then overtook Alonso around the outside of Beausset for fifth place. However, Sainz was too far behind from Russell and Perez ahead to close down the gap before the chequered flag.

With less than five laps remaining, Zhou’s Alfa Romeo came to a stop at the exit of turn six. The Virtual Safety Car was deployed while Zhou’s car was cleared, but once the track was safe the Virtual Safety Car was not lifted for a extended amount of time. Once the green flags did eventually fly, Russell got an immediate jump on Perez through turn 13, taking third place from the Red Bull. Perez tried to fight back, but was unable to counter Russell’s well-timed restart.

With a 10 second lead out front, Verstappen cruised over the remaining laps to cross the line and claim a comfortable seventh victory of the season. Hamilton took second place, with Russell a further six second behind to complete Mercedes’ first double podium of the season.

Perez finished fourth, less than a second behind Russell, with Sainz taking fifth and the fastest lap 11 seconds adrift of the Red Bull. Alonso finished sixth, ahead of Norris, Ocon and Ricciardo. On the final lap, the two Aston Martins of Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel battled over the final points-paying position, with Stroll successfully holding off his team mate to take the final point.

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2022 French Grand Prix reaction

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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49 comments on “Verstappen grabs win and points boost after Leclerc crashes out of the lead”

  1. Russell is the type of guy you just can’t like.
    But he has the right passport. And that helps him.

  2. It’s getting more and more difficult to remain a Ferrari fan. I sincerely hope and wish Mercedes sort out their car for next year so that we may have a championship battle. Ferrari even with the fastest car dont have it in them.

    1. If only Ferrari had Lewis driving for them… lol

      As most says the car makes the goat, you have to wonder if its not actually the driver.

      1. Obviously it’s both, plus the team, but there’s this thing about handling pressure when it is at it’s greatest…

      2. It’s obviously both as Leclerc really should have been much closer to MV in points. Even if you discount reliability, which happens to most team including RB, Ferrari made mistakes in strategy, Leclerc made mistakes, without those its a different game… so different driver in that car could have been totally different championship.

        1. Exactly. Imola and France alone is already a 39 point swing in Ver’s favour (assuming Leclerc won in France with Ver 2nd).

          So without these two mistakes alone, the gap would have only less than a race win, even taking into account Ferrari’s reliability issues.

          That would give them a chance still, but now it’s a tall order to overturn that lead Ver has.

      3. If it was the driver then Hamilton wouldn’t be having a win-less season so far, following your logic? 90% is the car. Why? An average driver can win the championship in the best car (we’ve seen it before), but you can’t win the championship in an average car (hell, chances are slim that you’ll win in the second-best car even, it happened for Verstappen, Hamilton, Schumacher etc., but it’s rare).

    2. Ferrari (and Charles to an extent) are ruining what should be a close title fight. That may be gone but hopefully we can enjoy some close races between now and the end of the season.
      Ferrari and Leclerc have a title winning car this year, they are just doing everything they can to not win it.

  3. Even Rosberg can see in no way that’s a driver mistake.

    But Leclerc just took the blame. As always. That’s why Leclerc is not a world champion material.

    1. “Oh, look! A self-reflection will make you a loser!”

      1. As if this is the the first time he’d done that. Clearly he said he can’t applied the throttle. Yet he quick to shifts blame on himself after like a loser.

        1. That was after the crash – to reverse.

          1. As much as I find the original comment utterly ignorable – winners rarely reverse.

          2. Yes, exactly, he was trying to reverse out of the barrier and could not apply the throttle.

    2. Yeah, well Rosberg said that before we heard what happened, first of all. Second of all, even if he still thinks that, and you still think that, I kinda find it hard to believe that you guys know better, watching it on TV screen, than the guy who actually drove the car and made that mistake. But feel free to explain how to really happened, considering your presence at the scene and the experience in F1, knowledge of the specific car and conditions etc. Please, go into specifics, we’ll try to follow.

  4. Ferrari doing everything to live up to their stereotype.

  5. Max is leagues above everyone and Mercedes once again the 2nd best Team on the grid.

  6. Once again Ferrrari shoots themselves in the foot.

    This season was theirs for the taking instead time and time again they trip over their own feet.

    Leclerc wasn’t the only one to make mistakes on the track but he should have been able to recover from that spin, instead he drives into the wall. Seems to be a combination of driver error , and a possible stuck throttle in that moment.

    Leclerc said in the interview somethng about losing the rear end, suggesting they were driving light on the rear for that stright line speed, and relying on ground effect to keep the car grounded in the corners.

    I wonder how they’ll do without that flexi floor.

    1. They can’t have any feet left given the number of times they’ve shot themselves.

  7. There’s nothing in this race. An embarrassment to Ferrari and some on Red Bull for Perez. Ferrari need absolute perfection from now to have a chance of winning one of the two championships. And they say the fastest car wins. Meh. Worse than 2018 for Ferrari. At least Vettel was not so error prone before 2019.

  8. I saw some opinions on Sainz’s strategy and I honestly think the ony thing Ferrari strategists could do better was to not let him fight with Perez for so long and do the pistop earlier. There was no way Sainz could hold back Russell and Perez in the dying stages of the race on that tire, let alone gain to necessary 5 seconds to keep the podium. But at least we saw a great maneouver, arguably the best in the race.

    Kudos to Mercedes, they are consistent as hell and it was genuinely great to see Hamilton be so positive about the second place. The gap to Verstappen is unfortunately too big but I still think there’s a way to catch up with Red Bull and Ferrari and start fighting for wins at least. The summer break could be a breakthrough.

    1. I am in agreement….The pit stop was necessary as those tires were not going to last. I wouldn’t have wanted to take that risk to be honest.

      I don’t think there is any way merc can catch ferrari or redbull this year and i am not being pessimistic here but i don’t think they can do it next year as well – their engine is just not powerful enough and they don’t have the scope to develop that engine anymore. Aero can only take you so far. They will get the odd wins next year but they will not be on a level with ferrari and red bull. You have to remember that every improvement merc makes ferrari and red bull will be making a move forward as well. Yes…they can slip up but unlikely. I am open to eating crow and they can surprise me though :-).

      1. About the Merc power unit, I think they are handicapped by their new cooliing solution, which is still in its infancy.
        When that proves itself they can maybe look to ‘turning up’ the engine. For now the Merc are trialing so many new bits of tech that it will be a while before they have the measure of it.

        The second half of this year and the start of next year sees them with increased windtunnel testing time over Redbull and Ferrari. This means where they were disadvantaged, we should see some improvements on the aero side. With the benifits of hindsight, eg seeing their rivals aero solutions, we should hopefully see the Mercs leap frog their rivals.

        1. “we should hopefully see the Mercs leap frog their rivals.”

          Um, not sure everyone is hoping for that!

    2. I agree @pironitheprovocateur that the strategy made sense especially when it became clear he got stuck trying to get past Russell, and then again with Perez. But they would have had to commit to it at least several laps earlier for it to be working, probably already when he was still stuck behind Russell to have enough laps to make up the (at the time) 15-17s ahead of Alonso and a chance of RUS, PER. But since they waited that long, they probably should have chanced it at that time since they already knew then that passing wasn’t as easy as the long DRS straight would seem to indicate.

      And in hindsight, with how the VSC came and worked out, it seems like they would have lucked into 3rd with PER/RUS fighting behind him. But at Ferrari the issue often has been missing the right moment with the strategy, so that’s why I certainly, and probably a lot of people have that not again this feeling.

      1. Agree.

      2. If it wasn’t for the SC come soon after Verstappen pitted, Hamilton would have driven longer and pitted later. He would then have had much freasher tires than Verstappen who i thought was on a two stopper.

    3. Ferrrai lost Sainz a podium with their unsafe release.

      First the crew was slow to service the car, and then released him ilnto the path of a Pitting car. That is down to the BASICS. Nevermind the call late on to pit and take the 5 seconds , when he could have stayed out and added the 5 seconds after the race. This was all on Ferrari.

      With Mercedes out of the picture, this season was suppose to be theirs for the taking, instead they’ve allowed the Redbulls to run away with it.

      1. Ferrari – finding new ways to not win a championship since 2008.

    4. There was no way Sainz could hold back Russell and Perez in the dying stages of the race on that tire, let alone gain to necessary 5 seconds to keep the podium.

      I’m not so sure about that: Gasly did the same H->M race and was able to overtake cars and keep the tyres alive until the end of the race.

  9. Sam (@undercut677)
    24th July 2022, 16:11

    The whole Sainz strategy back and forth circus only to end up making the obviously incorect decision was a disgrace. F1 is different than it was 20 years ago. There is more money and more brainpower and Ferrari is too insular to be a legitimate contender. Merc and RB keep hiring top international talent and Ferrari just promotes Italians that obviously are not good enough. Ferrari will finish behind Merc because of a lack of brainpower.

    1. Even despite their usual incompetence, I still appreciate there’s a strong non-British element in F1. It would be tedious if we got all the teams based around 50km radius in Britain and they were mostly rotating the same local engineers with few foreign exceptions.

      1. Sam (@undercut677)
        24th July 2022, 16:50

        I am not saying their problem is that they hire Italians. Their problem is that they are too insular and basically hire only Italians. RB and Merc are fighting to steal brainpower from each other and Ferrari is promoting people within their organizarion who cannot compete with the competition. This would be the case if a team hired all Brits. Your available talent pool must be wider to compete in today’s F1.

    2. I think it shows Sainz faith in the team… he made his own decisions at least in two previous races and he was correct. Him not trusting the team’s decision (which in this specif case may or may not be correct) is really telling a lot

  10. So a driver error in the end rather than throttle getting stuck.

  11. José Lopes da Silva
    24th July 2022, 16:25

    Perez should have won this race in order to confirm his title credentials and make the most of Leclerc’s retiring. He is a title contender.

    But he didn’t. In that sense, this race was like the 2019 one: when we expected for Bottas to strongly claim a win and a title approach, he demonstrated that he was nowhere near Hamilton.

  12. Ferrari, Ferrari, Ferrari!! Is their strategy team being led by amateurs or what!

    1. @lems, Ask Speer.

  13. Shame about Lec, but this time it seems he made a mistake. With Ferrari’s lack of realiability, any driver mistake that ends in the barriers is one too much, so I think both championships are now firmly in RB’s hands, barring an extraordinarily good second half of the season for Ferrari.
    But it looks like we’re going to get to see close racing this whole season, which is the important thing. I watch the race, not the championship.
    Flawless by Ver, won despite Lec had better pace (at least on the first stint).
    Good show for third, I’m glad to see Merc in the mix, should give us more close racing in the front.
    Shame about poorly timed SC for both Haas cars, really put Mag on the back foot.
    Russel did a good job in the end, I hope he learns from this that you win positions on the track, not on the radio.

  14. Zzzz season over and asterisk world champion already got the 2022 title sealed , at least he will win the WDC this year without outside help to fix things this time.

    Shame Merc are not competitive enough to fight RB because 2021 season bar the farce ending was 100x better than the snooze fest we have now with his closest rivals self sabotaging any chance to take the fight to him, all max needs to do this year is to just keep the car on track and wait for the incompetent Ferraris to implode..

    Great to see Lewis outdriving the merc to take a big points haul.

    Also RUS was almost robbed by the disgusting pro RB bias shown again by allowing Carlos slim jr Perez who had no intention to make the corner and to cheat and straight line the chicane.. I understand PER is rb doormat number 2 driver for wunderkind chosen one supermax but as shown at Abu Dhabi last year his only function is to be a cheater road block for max and not much else as he is in the fastest car on the grid and still finished behind both mercs on merit today…

    At least high iq RUS got ahead of Slim jr in the end catching him sleeping after the vsc restart.

  15. Today showed me that there are levels in F1.

    Max and Lewis on top level and everyone a clear margin below.

    Lewis and Max would be leading the championship in a Ferrari! Proof me wrong? Charles made mistakes at Imola, Silverstone and France.

    This years championships is full without RB and Merc fighting it out because Ferrari make too many mistakes.

    Great drive from Lewis, he is the form driver since the Canadian Grand Prix , 4 podiums in a row with a car 1 second of the pace.

    1. Silverstone?? That was like PER’s mistake. LEC’s route was completely different than normal route there, it’s just that PER in his desperation decided to suddenly close the door, PER himself taking the corner in a less than ideal route. If you check the statistics, you’ll see that actually LEC was involved in some hard racing battles for position more than PER, yet cleaner too. And there’s no coincidence either that in the final part when LEC had to defend against PER and HAM, it was the fight with PER again that wasn’t 100% clean.

    2. I would put it as Max (since 2020), then Lewis (since 2020) a level below, then the rest.

      Max’s consistently is God-level good. The only net points-losing mistake he’s done since start of 2020 is… Turkey 20′. Even Hamilton, who is still extremely consistent, has done several costly points losing mistakes since then. Mind blown!

      Ps. Silverstone 21′ was not predominantly Max’s fault, Brazil & Jeddah 21′ he was destined to finish at maximum P2, Spain 22′ he still won.


  16. Mamma Mia

  17. Where is the points chart? Am i missing it?

  18. Are they allowed to serve time penalties under safety car??

    1. Good question, anybody know?

  19. This GP flasbacked to me, German 2018, it was for me there that Seb lost his champioship, and i believe this is where Charles will lost his, this year. To many mistakes from the Team and drivers(Lec&Sai) will cost them both Champioships.
    Great drive from Merc, although a Ferrari fan, great to see them again, Max clinical has ever and Checo choked once again and i recon, no one believes his a title contender anymore. Would love to see more Maclaren on this one, have the feeling they’re fading away.

  20. Ferrari overall are underperforming. Leclerc is really fast, but errors, bad decisions and reliability hurting both sides of the garage, they have the best Car, with RB second best and Merc 3rd best a fair distance back. Max is getting absolutely everything possible out of the RB. Lewis and George are consistent and taking every scrap available to keep them in the race. Sergio is pretty up and down not maximising what he has, I do not expect him to keep up with Max, but he should be beating the Merc’s. We should be seeing race after race where Ferrari and RB fill the top 4 places with Merc 5 and 6. So in my unqualified opinion overall:
    Merc are doing the best job with what they have, both drivers and both sides of the Garage maximising.
    RB are doing the second best, but relying heavily on Max.
    Ferrari are messing up a season where they should at least win the Manufacturers title.

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