Ferrari looked set to make the French Grand Prix a hat trick win after Charles Leclerc qualified in pole position. The championship challenger got a better start off the line than Verstappen, who struggle to overtake him in the opening laps.
With the grandstands full of Ferrari F1 caps and Leclerc flags, Ferrari appeared in control – until it all went wrong (again). It’s becoming an all too familiar story for the boys in red. Leclerc crashed out on Lap 18, handing Verstappen a now 63-point lead in the Championship. A poor strategy call on when to pit Carlos Sainz lost him a potential podium finish.
We’re recapping all ups and downs of the French 2022 Grand Prix. If you’re a Ferrari fan, it might be time to treat yourself to some F1 merchandise to make up for the agony of France.
Has Ferrari Lost the Championship Already?
The French Grand Prix was always going to be a split story for Ferrari. Sainz started at the back of the grid due to an engine penalty. He went through to Q3 for qualifying to give Leclerc the tow he needed to qualify in pole position. Sainz was undoubtedly the quickest on track, making his way through the pact.
Questions are once again being asked about Ferrari’s strategy after a back-and-forth with Sainz over when to pit. Ferrari eventually called him in for a pit stop during a tense battle with Perez for third place that saw him miss the pit lane entrance.
Serving a five-second penalty that he got for an unsafe release eventually saw Sainz released back into the pack before overtaking the Alpines and McLarens. He eventually finished in 5th.
Leclerc’s lap 18 crash was originally believed to be a throttle issue, something he had complained about at the end of the Austrian Grand Prix. The driver later admitted that the crash was an “unacceptable” mistake that he had made himself.
After bad luck – and poor strategy – for Ferrari, it’s possible the Italian team has thrown away both championships. Verstappen is now 63 points clear of Leclerc and Red Bull is 82 points ahead of Ferrari in the constructors.
Verstappen Continues to Break Records
Leclerc’s crash came only a few laps after Verstappen’s early pit stop, giving him a comfortable lead in the race. He eventually won with a comfortable 10-second gap over Hamilton.
The race marked several milestones for the reigning World Champion. It was his 130th race for Red Bull – the most of any driver – and he drove his 1500th leading lap during the race. His 69th podium finish also puts him 8th on the list of all-time podiums.
With his 63-point lead, Verstappen goes to the Hungarian Grand Prix and the summer break with breathing space. Max Verstappen World Championship caps might get another run later in the year!
Mercedes Fight Back with a Double Podium
While Verstappen extended his lead in the championship, the big winners from Ferrari’s bad luck were Mercedes.
Hamilton got his best finish of the season in 2nd place, partly due to an early overtake of Perez into the first corner of the race. The French Grand Prix also marked Hamilton’s 300th race start. Perez lost out on 3rd place to Russell at the restart after struggling across the weekend.
It’s a bounce back for the team that has struggled to find pace and manage their upgrade package after a difficult start to the season. If Ferrari’s problems continue, can Mercedes fight for the second spot in the constructors?
Elsewhere on the Grid
There would have been champagne flowing in the McLaren and Alpine motorhomes after both teams got a double point finished. Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel battled to the chequered flag for the final point in 10th place.
Tsunoda, Latifi, Magnussen, and Zhou did not finish the race. Gasly, Albon, Bottas, and Schumacher finished the grid from 12th to 15th.
This weekend marks the Hungarian Grand Prix and the final race before the summer break. Get ready for Budapest with a McLaren T-Shirt, George Russell Cap, or Red Bull Polo Shirt. Keep your eyes peeled on our newest arrivals to see all the latest F1 merchandise here.