Hamilton claims sixth win in seven as Mercedes dominance extends in France
Lewis Hamilton extended his championship lead with victory in the French Grand Prix on Sunday, with Mercedes continuing their unbroken dominance in 2019.
Hamilton led from start to finish in France and also claimed the fastest lap, with team-mate Valtteri Bottas finishing second. Bottas has won the two races in 2019 which Hamilton hasn't added to his collection. Ferrari's Charles Leclerc was third.
There was little to worry about for the Mercedes duo for the first half of the race, with only a mild complaint from Hamilton over his seat.
Max Verstappen, starting in third, dropped down to fifth as the in-form Sebastian Vettel moved up into second, with Leclerc in fourth after he pitted ahead of his team-mate. Verstappen repeatedly complained that his engine was failing to offer him enough to challenge.
Ferrari were able to move Vettel onto a one-stop strategy as teams began to favour a harder compound to see out the race, with the French heatwave giving all teams a job in managing the graining on their tire - and Verstappen was able to reclaim fourth. Leclerc ultimately moved back up into third.
Hamilton pulled away from even Bottas as he extended his lead to 12 seconds by lap 31, with the pair swapping fastest laps and a bonus point for much of the race. With four-fifths of the race run, Hamilton complained that his own tires were blistered, forcing him to take care to bring his car home - a consistent theme of the campaign so far.
The win moves Hamilton further ahead of Bottas at the top, but Vettel - fifth - will regard this as another missed opportunity this season. He had the pace, but was fighting against his poor qualification from the start.
DRIVER OF THE DAY - Sebastian Vettel
This was impressive drive from the top five drivers. Hamilton extended his lead and managed his tires to show just how much better he is than any of his rivals. Max Verstappen pushed despite problems from the start. Valtteri Bottas held off both the Ferraris, while Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel threatened to exploit any mistakes made ahead of them. This was not a dramatic race, but it was an impressive showing of talent. Vettel edges it as he is the one driver to meaningfully improve his standing from the grid.
TALKING POINT - Hamilton is getting even better
Four consecutive wins for Hamilton means he will now be favoured by the Mercedes team if there is any serious competition from Bottas for the rest of the season. That means he can now focus on improving his relationship with the car even further over the second half of the season - there is no reason to think that he will not take home yet another championship.
1/53 - The Mercedes get away well, Hamilton pulls away. Sainz and Verstappen fight it out, Leclrec in third. No big incidents at the off.
11/53 - Sainz's tires are starting to grain in the French canicule - tire management could be a problem for all the drivers today.
14/53 - Vettel now has the fastest lap of the race, as he tries to cut the gap on Verstappen in fourth.
41/53 - Hamilton tells his team that there are blisters on his front tires, and he's told in response that they expect it to clear up as he drives.
52/53 - Vettel pits with a lap left, meaning he can be assured of fourth while he plays to take the fastest lap from Bottas.
53/53 - HAMILTON WINS. HAMILTON WINS THE FASTEST LAP POINT. LECLERC CANNOT PASS BOTTAS AT THE FINISH LINE. LOUD NOISES. A much improved showing from Ferrari after the disappointment of the qualification for Vettel - who snatches the fastest lap bonus in the end as he takes fourth!