F1 LIVE: French Grand Prix result as Max Verstappen wins ahead of Lewis Hamilton after Charles Leclerc crash

Max Verstappen capitalised after Charles Leclerc crashed out to win the French Grand Prix and extend his championship lead.

Leclerc, who won last time out in Austria to boost his fleeting title hopes, looked to be in total control before he lost grip in his Ferrari through Turn 11 on lap 18 and crashed into the barrier ending his race.

Lewis Hamilton threatened to challenge Verstappen for the victory in his 300th Formula One race but the Dutchman’s pace ultimately proved too strong as he coasted to maximum points at Circuit Paul Ricard. Seven-time champion Hamilton came home second with Mercedes teammate George Russell rounding out the podium after a ding dong battle with Sergio Perez in the second Red Bull.

Carlos Sainz finished fifth after a turbulent afternoon ahead of fellow Spaniard Fernando Alonso with Lando Norris seventh in his McLaren and Esteban Ocon of Alpine eighth. Daniel Ricciardo came home ninth with Lance Stroll rounding out the top 10 after narrowly beating Aston Martin teammate Sebastian Vettel to the chequered flag.

Follow all the reaction and analysis from the Circuit Paul Ricard:

French Grand Prix

  • Max Verstappen WINS French Grand Prix with Lewis Hamilton 2nd and George Russell 3rd

  • Charles Leclerc crashed out from the lead on lap 19

  • LAP 51: George Russell passes Sergio Perez to put Mercedes in position for a double podium

  • LAP 43: Carlos Sainz pitted by Ferrari, potentially throwing away a podium

  • LAP 32: Max Verstappen extending his lead over Lewis Hamilton at the front

  • LAP 19: Charles Leclerc CRASHES OUT from the lead

  • LAP 16: Leclerc holding off Verstappen at the front as Hamilton distances Perez in 3rd

  • LAP 1: Leclerc maintains lead off the start as Hamilton climbs to 3rd

  • Leclerc started French Grand Prix on pole position, with Verstappen 2nd; Perez 3rd

  • Hamilton - competing in his 300th Formula One race - started in 4th

French Grand Prix - Max Verstappen, 1st:

15:45 , Kieran Jackson

“We had really good pace from the start but following around here in this heat, tyres were overheating a lot. Tried to stay calm and stay close! You never know how the race is going to go, the car was quick, unlucky for Charles and I hope he’s OK. It was all about looking after the tyres until the end!”

“For some moves you have to back out and that’s what we did. It’s all about scoring points and today was a great day. We still have a bit of work to do over a single lap particularly...”

French Grand Prix - Lewis Hamilton, 2nd:

15:43 , Kieran Jackson

“That was a tough race because my drinks bottle didn’t work! Reliability is the one thing we’ve been amazing at, George did an amazing job as well!

“I’m looking forward to downing this drink! Super excited to see the crowd there [in Budapest], it’s going to be hard to beat the Ferraris and Red Bulls but you see in the race we have the pace.”

French Grand Prix - George Russell, 3rd:

15:41 , Kieran Jackson

“I’m sweating and am absolutely knackered. I was glad to see that chequered flag!

“Bringing home for P3 and to have two Mercedes on the podium is great!”

French Grand Prix - TOP-10:

15:39 , Kieran Jackson

Verstappen, Hamilton, Russell, Perez, Sainz, Alonso, Norris, Ocon, Ricciardo, Stroll

Verstappen now has a 63-point lead to Leclerc! Very productive afternoon for the regining world champion...

For Mercedes, the first time both drivers have been on the podium in 2022!

French Grand Prix - Lewis Hamilton:

15:36 , Kieran Jackson

“Great job guys, that’s an incredible result for the team. Shows all the hard work we’re doing. Amazing, awesome! Let’s keep pushing Toto!”

French Grand Prix - race winner Max Verstappen:

15:35 , Kieran Jackson

“Good points again guys, good stuff. We did well there!”

French Grand Prix - Max Verstappen wins the French Grand Prix! Hamilton 2nd, Russell 3rd

15:35 , Kieran Jackson

A big afternoon for the Championship leader - 25 points and wins at Circuit Paul Ricard for the second year running!

Lewis Hamilton finishes second and George Russell is third as he holds off Sergio Perez! A double podium for Mercedes!

5-10: Sainz, Alonso, Norris, Ocon, Ricciardo, Stroll

French Grand Prix - Lap 53/53: Verstappen, Hamilton, Russell

15:33 , Kieran Jackson

Final lap - and Perez is gaining on Russell! It’s the battle for third place which is the main attraction here!

The Mercedes staying ahead for the time being, while Perez complains that Russell went off the track at turn six!

French Grand Prix - Lap 52/53: Verstappen, Hamilton, Russell

15:31 , Kieran Jackson

Perez does now have DRS behind Russell, but the Mercedes should be OK here!

Penutlimate lap here, Verstappen nine seconds ahead of Hamilton and on his way to a seventh victory this season.

Top-10: Verstappen, Hamilton, Russell, Perez, Sainz, Alonso, Norris, Ocon, Ricciardo, Stroll

French Grand Prix - Lap 51/53: Verstappen, Hamilton, Russell

15:30 , Kieran Jackson

VSC ends... And Russell passes Perez straight away, who was caught napping! Russell is up to third!

A double Mercedes podium beckons!

French Grand Prix - Lap 50/53: Verstappen, Hamilton, Perez

15:28 , Kieran Jackson

Virtual safety car! Zhou Guanyu has stopped on the side of the track in sector one!

The Red Bull pit wall were out to pit if it was a safety car! Race neutralised for a lap or two here...

Verstappen asks if he can get a free stop in this. “Stand by” is the response from the race leader’s engineer...

French Grand Prix - Lap 49/53: Verstappen, Hamilton, Perez

15:25 , Kieran Jackson

Russell is still in DRS range to Perez as he hunts a podium place, right on the tail of the Red Bull!

Verstappen is 10 seconds clear of Hamilton and extremely comfortable, while Sainz is 21 seconds behind Russell and is going to run out of laps despite the superior speed! Ferrari have for sure thrown away a position or two here!

Four to go...

French Grand Prix - Lap 47/53: Verstappen, Hamilton, Perez

15:23 , Kieran Jackson

Sainz now up to sixth, passing Norris with superior grip and the Ferrari has also unsurprisingly set a fastest lap of the race!

Meanwhile Leclerc, in the media pen, admits it was a “mistake” on his part for the crash! “It’s unacceptable, I need to get on top of those things!

“Look into the data, try to understand it. To me it’s a mistake and that’s it. Just trying to push too much and I lost the rear. I did a mistake at the wrong moment!”

French Grand Prix - Lap 45/53: Verstappen, Hamilton, Perez

15:20 , Kieran Jackson

Sainz is up to seventh on fresh mediums, passing Ocon and Ricciardo, while Russell is fuming over the team radio about the collision with Perez! No investigation by the stewards...

Toto Wolff tells Russell to “hunt him down” and keep his head! Is the Red Bull vulnerable? Could Mercedes have two drivers on the podium?!

Nine to go in France!

French Grand Prix - Lap 43/53: Verstappen, Hamilton, Perez

15:17 , Kieran Jackson

Ferrari have now pitted Sainz! Incredible, after all that and getting up to P3!

The Spaniard comes out in P9... were Ferrari that worried about the tyres that they’ve thrown away a potential podium?! Lack of clarity once again on the Ferrari pit wall!

French Grand Prix - Lap 42/53: Verstappen, Hamilton, Sainz

15:15 , Kieran Jackson

Sainz says he can’t pass Perez, with his engineer now telling him “Plan D” - that’s quite a change! The Spaniard wants to stop, but the team want him to stay out!

The Spaniard is wheel to wheel with the Red Bull towards the end of the lap - and passes down the main straight, he’s up to P3!

Incredibly, the Ferrari pit wall were telling Sainz to box while he was trying to pull of an overtake!

Then, Russell dives down the inside of Perez but they touch - and Perez has to go off track but maintains P4!

French Grand Prix - Lap 40/53: Verstappen, Hamilton, Perez

15:11 , Kieran Jackson

Sainz is told “Plan A” by his engineer, with the Spaniard replying that if they do pit it has to be now - watch this space!

Further down the pack, Magnussen and Latifi have touched in sector one, with the Williams spinning... looks like a racing incident. Both cars have come into the pits and Magnussen is retiring from the race...

French Grand Prix - Lap 37/53: Verstappen, Hamilton, Perez

15:07 , Kieran Jackson

Hamilton complaining of a windy gust around Circuit Paul Ricard now, which will come into play with tyre degradation in the last 16 laps or so...

Sainz is now 0.6 seconds behind Sergio Perez as the Ferrari targets third. And Valtteri Bottas has come into the pits further down the leaderboard...

French Grand Prix - Lap 35/53: Verstappen, Hamilton, Perez

15:03 , Kieran Jackson

Sainz is suffering from severe blistering on the front right tyre so should be coming into the pits soon, despite catching Sergio Perez in third.

Verstappen’s gap to Hamilton now 6.8 seconds, while Perez is 1.6 secs behind Hamilton.

The Ferrari pit stop now the biggest factor in this race in the short-term...

French Grand Prix - Lap 32/53: Verstappen, Hamilton, Perez

14:59 , Kieran Jackson

Sainz has finally passed Russell around the outside, though of course the Ferrari should go back into the pits to serve a five-second time penalty, or will have to serve it on the timings at the end of the race...

Verstappen has just set a fastest lap of the race and is now comfortably 5.5 seconds ahead of Hamilton, who went off the track at turn 2 but rejoined the track, all OK.

French Grand Prix - Lap 27/53: Verstappen, Hamilton, Perez

14:50 , Kieran Jackson

Sainz now 0.5 seconds behind Russell, but a reminder that the Ferrari will need to pit again to serve his penalty!

Yet the Ferrari is the quickest man on track and is likely to pass the Mercedes soon...

Zhou also has a five-second penaly for causing a collision with Schumacher.

Current top-10: Verstappen, Hamilton, Perez, Russell, Sainz, Alonso, Norris, Ricciardo, Ocon, Stroll

French Grand Prix - Lap 25/53: Verstappen, Hamilton, Perez

14:46 , Kieran Jackson

Carlos Sainz has been given a five-second time penalty for an unsafe release during all those pit stops. Seeing it live, it did look dodgy, with the Ferrari just avoiding an oncoming Williams car and the McLaren pit crew! That could have been a nightmare! Penalty is the right decision.

Schumacher and Zhou’s collision is also under investigation. Verstappen’s gap to Hamilton now 2.7 seconds. Sainz now ahead of Alonso and is on the tail of George Russell...

French Grand Prix - Lap 23/53: Verstappen, Hamilton, Perez

14:44 , Kieran Jackson

Another yellow flag in sector 3, with Mick Schumacher spinning around, but the Haas is all OK - we’ll wait to see what happened!

Meanwhile, Guanyu Zhou has gone in for a new front wing, so perhaps there was contact between the two!

At the front, Hamilton is 1.6 seconds behind Verstappen but the gap to Perez behind is just over a second. Crucial for the Mercedes to maintain that!

French Grand Prix - Lap 22/53: Verstappen, Hamilton, Perez

14:41 , Kieran Jackson

Safety car is in, with Verstappen launching ahead of Hamilton. Sainz, on mediums, is ahead of Norris and Ricciardo and is already up to sixth!

Big responsibility on the Spanaird now as the only Ferrari driver in the race!

Verstappen first, Hamilton second - could we get a 2021-esque fight perhaps?!

French Grand Prix - Lap 20/53: Verstappen, Hamilton, Perez

14:37 , Kieran Jackson

Leclerc is OK - he’s out of the car - he just lost it around turn 11, with the Ferrari driver losing the rear tyres! Leclerc screamed “NOOOOO” down the team radio, screeching about the throttle pedal too...

Every car, more or less, has come into the pits, and Verstappen JUST got ahead of Lewis Hamilton while the Mercedes was in the pits!

Yuki Tsunoda also out of this race, due to the damage with the collision with Ocon.

Safety car is in this lap... Verstappen asked if Leclerc was alright, which is always nice to see.

French Grand Prix - Lap 19/53: Hamilton, Perez, Russell

14:34 , Kieran Jackson

Charles Leclers is out! He’s in the barriers at turn 11! Can you believe it?! Another DNF nightmare for the Ferrari!

It’s a safety car! Lewis Hamilton is into the pits... as is Sergio Perez... as is George Russell...

French Grand Prix - Lap 17/53: Leclerc, Hamilton, Perez

14:32 , Kieran Jackson

Verstappen pits! 2.4 seconds from the Red Bull pit wall... and he comes out behind Lando Norris in seventh! It’s about a 28-30 second pit window for the drivers today, it’s a long old pit lane at Circuit Paul Ricard!

How will Ferrari respond - will they pit Leclerc straight away? Meanwhile, Carlos Sainz has just overtaken Daniel Ricciardo and the other Ferrari is up to ninth place. Ocon next in line...

French Grand Prix - Lap 16/53: Leclerc, Verstappen, Hamilton

14:29 , Kieran Jackson

It’s getting close to decision time for all the leading cars in terms of pit stop strategy - a one-stop race means the stop will have to come around laps 18-25... but how will the degradation fare in these scorching temeratures?!

Hamilton is now 7 seconds behind Verstappen, who is now outside the DRS window, 1.8 seconds behind Leclerc who has done well to hold off the early Red Bull assault...

Amongst the whole grid now, no car is in the DRS window - will be interesting to see how this plays out!

French Grand Prix - Lap 12/53: Leclerc, Verstappen, Hamilton

14:24 , Kieran Jackson

Leclerc has been told that “Plan B” is the philosophy for Ferrari. What that means... we don’t know!

Elsewhere, Sainz is up to 11th while Russell is closing - slowly - on Sergio Perez, who is now three seconds behind Lewis Hamilton.

Who knows - maybe Mercedes can come into this race right at the front, with the race pace on a Sunday showing its positive signs once more!

French Grand Prix - Lap 10/53: Leclerc, Verstappen, Hamilton

14:20 , Kieran Jackson

Verstappen, who has just received a warning for track limits too, remains within a second of Leclerc, who is doing a “good job” according to his engineer!

Perez is down to two seconds behind the Mercedes of Hamilton, while Russell is 1.5 seconds behind the Mexican now!

Further down the leaderboard, Sainz is now up to 12th while Magnussen is the first car to pit in this race - an aggressive two-stop strategy for the Haas. Mick Schumacher pits too, as does the Alfa Romeo of Guanyu Zhou.

French Grand Prix - Lap 8/53: Leclerc, Verstappen, Hamilton

14:17 , Kieran Jackson

Verstappen remains around half-a-second behind Leclerc - there’s an element of caution not to burn out their tyres early on here. Hamilton is maintaining his position in third place quite well too.

Perez, meanwhile, has received a second warning for track limits at turn 3. One more is a black and white flag and another one is a five-second penalty...

The rest of the top-10 (4-10): Perez, Russell, Alonso, Norris, Ocon (has a five-second penalty to serve), Ricciardo, Stroll

French Grand Prix - Lap 6/53: Leclerc, Verstappen, Hamilton

14:14 , Kieran Jackson

The Red Bulls are still hot on the tails behind Leclerc and Hamilton, yet neither has made a move to overtake yet with DRS...

But Verstappen is so so close to the lead now, just having to back off around the winding turn 10! It’ll be fascinating to see if the Championship leader can get ahead of the Ferrari before the first round of pit stops!

French Grand Prix - Lap 4/53: Leclerc, Verstappen, Hamilton

14:10 , Kieran Jackson

The Ferrari is struggling already, with Verstappen now just eight-tenths behind and the Red Bull has DRS - there’s two detection points at Circuit Paul Ricard!

Leclerc could be in trouble. Meanwhile, Ocon has been given a five-second time penalty for causing a collision with Tsunoda....

As for Lewis Hamilton, he’s four seconds behind Verstappen with Perez in DRS range behind - the top-two is not his race by the signs early on!

French Grand Prix - Lap 2/53: Leclerc, Verstappen, Hamilton

14:08 , Kieran Jackson

Ocon looks quite guility in that collision with Tsunoda, the Frenchman may be in trouble with the stewards at his home race.

Leclerc is already one second ahead of Verstappen and at the back, Kevin Magnussen has leapt up from 20th to 13th! Carlos Sainz is only 17th though, having started 19th!

French Grand Prix - Lap 1/53: Leclerc, Verstappen, Hamilton!

14:05 , Kieran Jackson

It’s lights out at Paul Ricard and while Leclerc stays ahead of Verstappen, Hamilton launches past Perez into third place while Fernando Alonso has got ahead of George Russell and Lando Norris!

Brilliant start by the old-timers - and towards the end of the lap, Yuki Tsunoda spins after contact with Esteban Ocon!

French Grand Prix: We’re underway with the formation lap!

14:00 , Kieran Jackson

Here’s what Lewis Hamilton said after qualifying on Saturday!

--

“It’s not that it is disheartening, but you do a lap and you are told it is 1.7 seconds off and you are like ‘what?’

“And then you do a really good lap and you are 1.1 sec off and you are like ‘wow’. There is nothing I can do in my power to change that.

“Everyone is working as hard as they can. Each weekend we come with little bits to try and improve, but sometimes that doesn’t make a difference and for sure that is difficult for everyone.

“The top two teams are in their own league. I came here this weekend hoping we would be within three tenths of them, and we are a second back. If it is anything like this it is going to be a while before we win, but it is not impossible.”

French Grand Prix: We’re moments away from lights out at Circuit Paul Ricard!

13:57 , Kieran Jackson

Here’s a reminder of what happened in qualifying!

--

After three practice sessions of back and forth and to-ing and fro-ing, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc produced a lap when it mattered most in qualifying to take pole position at the French Grand Prix, ahead of the Red Bull pair of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.

The Monegasque, 100 miles or so along from the principality, took the 16th pole of his career with the aid of teammate Carlos Sainz’s tow in the middle sector around Circuit Paul Ricard, posting a time three-tenths quicker than world champion and championship leader Verstappen. And after a first half of the season characterised by questionable Ferrari strategy calls – and a stubbornness not to consistently favour one driver over the other – Sainz’s back-of-the-grid penalty made teamwork the dreamwork under the blazing French sun.

“He did the perfect job and the perfect tow which helped me a lot – I gained two-tenths on that straight,” Leclerc said. “It was a great job from Carlos… without him it would have been much closer, so a huge thanks to him and I hope he can get into the fight. The car feels good but let’s see how it goes tomorrow.”

Lewis Hamilton, on his 300th Grand Prix weekend, maximised the most out of an upgraded Mercedes which is nonetheless still falling short of the top two, qualifying on the second row in fourth, with George Russell two spots further back in sixth; the two Silver Arrows are split by Lando Norris, courtesy of a terrific lap by the Brit in his McLaren.

Teamwork makes the dream work for Ferrari but Mercedes once again fall short

French Grand Prix: Christian Horner, pre-race...

13:52 , Kieran Jackson

“It’s going to be hot and it’s probably the hottest race we’ve had all year. Strategy is going to be crucial, degredation too. It’s going to be fascinating to see how it plays out.

“There’s a benefit of clean air but it’s all going to be about tyre management today, not killing your tyres. We deliver our lap time very different to Ferrari.”

Red Bull have their drivers in P2 and P3 this afternoon!

French Grand Prix: Here are the standings in the Championship!

13:50 , Kieran Jackson

Current driver standings

1. Max Verstappen - 208 points

2. Charles Leclerc - 170 points

3. Sergio Perez - 151 points

4. Carlos Sainz - 133 points

5. George Russell - 128 points

6. Lewis Hamilton - 109 points

7. Lando Norris - 64 points

8. Esteban Ocon - 52 points

9. Valtteri Bottas - 46 points

10. Fernando Alonso - 29 points

11. Kevin Magnussen - 22 points

12. Daniel Ricciardo -17 points

13. Pierre Gasly - 16 points

14. Sebastian Vettel -15 points

15. Mick Schumacher - 12 points

16. Yuki Tsunoda - 11 points

17. Guanyu Zhou - 5 points

18. Alex Albon - 3 points

19. Lance Stroll - 3 points

20. Nicholas Latifi - 0 points

21. Nico Hulkenberg - 0 points

French Grand Prix: Lando Norris, pre-race...

13:48 , Kieran Jackson

“Today is a tougher day, tough temperature, very hot. Yesterday was the easy job but I’m excited, looking forward to it. The balance is never going to be nice in these conditions, it’s trying to deal with bad balance and problems.”

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

French Grand Prix: The French national anthem is now blaring out at Circuit Paul Ricard!

13:45 , Kieran Jackson

 (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
(POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

French Grand Prix: A reminder that Carlos Sainz starts from 19th as a result of taking a new engine!

13:43 , Kieran Jackson

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

French Grand Prix: Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admits performance is ‘just not good enough'

13:41 , Kieran Jackson

“We knew once the new tyres were on that we were going to be there. But it’s just not good enough. We’re a little bit on the back foot, when it doesn’t come together free styling starts. The overall package is just not quick enough. Hamilton has extracted more than the car has at the moment.”

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(Getty Images)

Ferrari and Red Bull are ‘in their own league’, Lewis Hamilton acknowledges

13:26 , Kieran Jackson

Lewis Hamilton said he is powerless to change his downturn in results after qualifying a distant fourth for his 300th Formula One race. Hamilton and his Mercedes team arrived in Le Castellet for Sunday’s French Grand Prix with high hopes of a revival.

A number of updates on Hamilton’s Mercedes machine – combined with the smooth Circuit Paul Ricard asphalt – had been expected to propel the Briton back to the front in his landmark appearance.

But Hamilton, 37, was left to reflect on another sobering afternoon after he finished an eye-watering nine tenths behind Ferrari’s pole-sitter Charles Leclerc. Max Verstappen will join Leclerc on the front row, with Sergio Perez third in the other Red Bull.

Hamilton’s team-mate George Russell starts even further back in sixth – 1.2 sec off the pace – and beaten by McLaren’s Lando Norris, who lines up in fifth. “It’s not that it is disheartening, but you do a lap and you are told it is 1.7 seconds off and you are like ‘what?,” said Hamilton. “And then you do a really good lap and you are 1.1 sec off and you are like ‘wow’. There is nothing I can do in my power to change that.

“Everyone is working as hard as they can. Each weekend we come with little bits to try and improve, but sometimes that doesn’t make a difference and for sure that is difficult for everyone. The top two teams are in their own league. I came here this weekend hoping we would be within three tenths of them, and we are a second back. If it is anything like this it is going to be a while before we win, but it is not impossible.”

Ferrari and Red Bull are ‘in their own league’, Lewis Hamilton acknowledges

French Grand Prix: Last-chance saloon beckons for Mercedes as F1 says farewell to Circuit Paul Ricard

13:14 , Kieran Jackson

As odd as it may seem to jump the gun during grand prix No 12 of a 22-race season, this weekend’s French Grand Prix in the picturesque southern region of Le Castellet is something of a last-chance saloon for one team and, more pertinently, one venue.

First, to Circuit Paul Ricard, which only returned to Formula 1 in 2018 after a 28-year absence. It is near-certain that this will be the last time it hosts a race in motorsport’s greatest championship, with the French Grand Prix’s contract expiring this year and no extension forthcoming. With Las Vegas and potentially Shanghai and South Africa returning to the calendar next year, France is bound to come a cropper to F1’s exponential global boom particularly with Monaco remaining, for the time being, a campaign staple 109 miles down the coastline.

Yet this race has long been earmarked – alongside Silverstone three weeks ago – as a key weekend for Mercedes, with the Constructors’ Champions still seeking top-notch performance as they pursue a first win of 2022. If there is even an inkling of the Silver Arrows reviving their season before serious attention turns to next year, it has to come this weekend at a flat, high-speed track. However Friday, following two practice stints, will have set no pulses excitedly racing in the garage, with George Russell finishing P4 in both hour-long sessions.

Lewis Hamilton – who did not run in FP1 as he made way for test driver Nyck de Vries as part of F1’s young driver protocol for 2022 – was fifth on the timesheet later in the afternoon, at a circuit he’s won twice at in 2018 and 2019 and where he will become just the sixth man to reach 300 grands prix in Formula 1. Unbeknownst to him, mind – he insisted he was unaware before being told in Thursday’s press conference.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, speaking after an “underwhelming” first practice and having complained of being in “no man’s land” throughout the season so far, was decidedly unimpressed with their running. “We’re not where we want to be,” he said.

“We’re lacking pace. We’re still not getting the tyres in the optimum window. It’s something we haven’t quite understood.”

Last-chance saloon beckons for Mercedes as F1 says farewell to Circuit Paul Ricard

French Grand Prix: Here’s a reminder of the starting grid at Circuit Paul Ricard!

13:08 , Kieran Jackson

  1. Charles Leclerc - Ferrari

  2. Max Verstappen - Red Bull

  3. Sergio Perez - Red Bull

  4. Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes

  5. Lando Norris - McLaren

  6. George Russell - Mercedes

  7. Fernando Alonso - Alpine

  8. Yuki Tsunoda - AlphaTauri

  9. Daniel Ricciardo - McLaren

  10. Esteban Ocon - Alpine

  11. Valtteri Bottas - Alfa Romeo

  12. Sebastian Vettel - Aston Martin

  13. Alex Albon - Williams

  14. Pierre Gasly - AlphaTauri

  15. Lance Stroll - Aston Martin

  16. Guanyu Zhou - Alfa Romeo

  17. Mick Schumacher - Haas

  18. Nicholas Latifi - Williams

  19. Carlos Sainz - Ferriari

  20. Kevin Magnussen - Haas

French Grand Prix: 1 hour until lights out in Le Castellet!

13:00 , Kieran Jackson

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(Getty Images)

French Grand Prix: The drivers parade is well underway at Circuit Paul Ricard!

12:43 , Kieran Jackson

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(Getty Images)
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(Getty Images)
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(Getty Images)

Teamwork makes the dream work for Ferrari but Mercedes once again fall short

12:25 , Kieran Jackson

After three practice sessions of back and forth and to-ing and fro-ing, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc produced a lap when it mattered most in qualifying to take pole position at the French Grand Prix, ahead of the Red Bull pair of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.

The Monegasque, 100 miles or so along from the principality, took the 16th pole of his career with the aid of teammate Carlos Sainz’s tow in the middle sector around Circuit Paul Ricard, posting a time three-tenths quicker than world champion and championship leader Verstappen. And after a first half of the season characterised by questionable Ferrari strategy calls – and a stubbornness not to consistently favour one driver over the other – Sainz’s back-of-the-grid penalty made teamwork the dreamwork under the blazing French sun.

“He did the perfect job and the perfect tow which helped me a lot – I gained two-tenths on that straight,” Leclerc said. “It was a great job from Carlos… without him it would have been much closer, so a huge thanks to him and I hope he can get into the fight. The car feels good but let’s see how it goes tomorrow.”

Lewis Hamilton, on his 300th Grand Prix weekend, maximised the most out of an upgraded Mercedes which is nonetheless still falling short of the top two, qualifying on the second row in fourth, with George Russell two spots further back in sixth; the two Silver Arrows are split by Lando Norris, courtesy of a terrific lap by the Brit in his McLaren.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, however, couldn’t hide his disappointment, with Hamilton nearly a second behind pole-sitter Leclerc as another weekend looks set to pass the constructors champions by. “It’s just not good enough,” Wolff said. “We’re a little bit on the back foot and when it doesn’t come together, freestyling [with set-up] starts. The overall package is just not quick enough.”

Teamwork makes the dream work for Ferrari but Mercedes once again fall short

French Grand Prix: Sebastian Vettel tunes up in ‘Green Pea’

12:19 , Ben Burrows

Sebastian Vettel tuned up for this weekend’s French Grand Prix in a very different car to what he is used to.

The four-time world champion took a 1922 Bamford & Martin TT1 - known as ‘Green Pea’ - for a spin around Circuit Paul Ricard ahead of the race weekend.

“Green Pea holds a very special place in Aston Martin’s heritage, and you can almost feel that century of history beneath your fingertips when at the wheel,” said Vettel.

“The racing spirit and will to win is something that defines Aston Martin, and it’s fantastic to celebrate it this weekend as we bring Green Pea and our heritage in motorsport together with the cutting-edge technology and performance of today’s AMR22 car.”

French Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton tipped for 400 races

12:12 , Ben Burrows

Lewis Hamilton will become just the sixth F1 driver to start 300 races when the lights go out this afternoon.

The seven-time world champion, already 99 points behind Max Verstappen in the standings, has 18 months to run on his Mercedes deal.

So will the Briton reach 400 grands prix?

“We talked a few weeks ago about how long our partnership can go and the number that was discussed was five to 10 years, so we can get to 400,” joked Mercedes boss Toto Wolff.

French Grand Prix: Charles Leclerc starts on pole position

11:59 , Ben Burrows

A reminder that Charles Leclerc starts on pole this afternoon after a little help from Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz helped him beat championship leader Max Verstappen in Saturday's qualifying session.

Sainz had nothing at stake since he was starting from the back of the grid after multiple engine-part changes, so Ferrari used him to give Leclerc a tow on his two runs in Q3.

Leclerc was up by just 0.008 seconds from Verstappen after his first run but the team worked seamlessly on Leclerc's second run as he beat his own leading time and finished 0.3 seconds ahead of Verstappen and 0.46 clear of Verstappen's Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez.

Lewis Hamilton qualified in fourth for Mercedes in what will be his 300th Formula One race.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

French Grand Prix: Nico Rosberg would ‘bet his house’ on Verstappen and Leclerc fireworks

11:45 , Ben Burrows

Nico Rosberg is certain we will see fireworks in the title battle between Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc.

Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton enjoyed a fiery contest a year ago but in sharp contrast this year's title race has been an altogether calm affair.

Rosberg, though, believes that will soon change.

“Honestly, that [lack of drama between Verstappen and Leclerc] surprises me massively because they have gone wheel-to-wheel so much and so intensely,” he told Sky Sports F1. “And that there’s never even been kind of a discussion moment or anything has been a huge surprise.

“But I mean, I’ll bet probably even my house that it’s not going to last for the whole season with the amount of times they go wheel-to-wheel. There must come a moment where there’s going to be some real baggage or different opinions and some kind of incident or something.

“Let’s see, I mean, as a fan, of course, we want to see things heating up a little bit more, but I’m sure we’ll get that.”

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

French Grand Prix: Alpine could loan Oscar Piastri to another team

11:30 , Ben Burrows

Alpine would be willing to loan Australian reserve Oscar Piastri to race for another team so long as they can get him back, principal Laurent Rossi said on Saturday.

Rossi also told reporters at the French Grand Prix that Renault-owned Alpine were working on scenarios for both Piastri and twice world champion Fernando Alonso to drive next season.

He said the scenarios were “very plausible, very sensible and that we imagine would satisfy both drivers”.

Alonso, now 40 but still a fearsome competitor, wants to continue with Alpine who have Frenchman Esteban Ocon under a longer-term contract.

“I’d be open to loan Oscar out to a team as long as I get him back,” said Rossi when pressed on 2021 Formula Two champion Piastri’s future.

“We’ve invested heavily in Oscar, we believe in him -- that’s why he’s our reserve driver -- he’s a very promising talent, we’d love to fulfil this talent in the team.

“So a loan like many other drivers starting in another team to learn the tricks and then coming back to us would be a good scenario.”

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

French Grand Prix: Toto Wolff laments qualifying ‘slap in the face'

11:15 , Ben Burrows

Toto Wolff cut a largely disconsolate figure during and after qualifying.

The Mercedes boss has overseen the remarkable record-breaking run of eight consecutive constructors’ championships - but as the sport approaches its traditional summer break, the once all-conquering team are no closer to unlocking the speed to allow them to compete with Ferrari and Red Bull.

“There were good signs in Silverstone and then we went to Austria - a track where we are normally not competitive and we could clearly see the signs why we were not competitive - but we were close,” said Wolff.

“We were three-tenths off in qualifying, and that was acceptable. So we brought a nice update package to Paul Ricard.

“The track is smooth, off we go, and then boom, no performance, and we can’t figure out what went wrong. That is a bit of a slap in the face.”

French Grand Prix TV channel information

11:05 , Ben Burrows

Some housekeeping for those wanting to watch the race on television this afternoon.

Lights out is 2pm with the entire race schedule broadcast live on Sky Sports F1. The race is also being shown on Sky Sports Main Event too.

Highlights will also be available free-to-air on Channel 4 at 6:30pm (BST).

If you’re not a Sky customer you can grab a NOWTV Day Pass here to watch without a subscription.

French Grand Prix: Jamie Chadwick wins again in W Series

10:55 , Ben Burrows

Britain’s Jamie Chadwick took her seventh successive race win in the all-female W Series at the French Grand Prix on Saturday to put a third title firmly in her sights.

Chadwick, now 70 points clear of compatriot Abbi Pulling in the standings, has won all five races this year after ending 2021 with two wins. There are five remaining.

The 24-year-old started third on the grid on Saturday, after being demoted from pole position, but was back in front by turn four of the opening lap and stayed ahead despite two safety car periods at Le Castellet.

Spain’s Belen Garcia and Nerea Marti finished second and third respectively, with Beitske Visser dropping from pole to fourth.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

French Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton powerless in underperforming Mercedes

10:45 , Ben Burrows

Lewis Hamilton said he is powerless to change his downturn in results after qualifying a distant fourth for his 300th Formula One race.

Hamilton and his Mercedes team arrived in Le Castellet for Sunday’s French Grand Prix with high hopes of a revival but finished an eye-watering nine tenths behind Ferrari’s pole-sitter Charles Leclerc.

Teammate George Russell starts even further back in sixth - 1.2 sec off the pace - and beaten by McLaren’s Lando Norris, who lines up in fifth.

“It’s not that it is disheartening, but you do a lap and you are told it is 1.7 seconds off and you are like ‘what?,” said Hamilton.

“And then you do a really good lap and you are 1.1 sec off and you are like ‘wow’. There is nothing I can do in my power to change that.

“Everyone is working as hard as they can. Each weekend we come with little bits to try and improve, but sometimes that doesn’t make a difference and for sure that is difficult for everyone.

“The top two teams are in their own league. I came here this weekend hoping we would be within three tenths of them, and we are a second back. If it is anything like this it is going to be a while before we win, but it is not impossible.”

French Grand Prix: Top 10 starting grid

10:30 , Ben Burrows

A refresher of the top 10 for those who need a quick reminder.

  • Charles Leclerc - Ferrari

  • Max Verstappen - Red Bull

  • Sergio Perez - Red Bull

  • Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes

  • Lando Norris - McLaren

  • George Russell - Mercedes

  • Fernando Alonso - Alpine

  • Yuki Tsunoda - AlphaTauri

  • Daniel Ricciardo - McLaren

  • Esteban Ocon - Alpine

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

French Grand Prix: Max Verstappen hoping for ‘decent race car'

10:22 , Ben Burrows

Max Verstappen was quickest in final practice but could not match Charles Leclerc’s speed in qualifying.

“Third practice is clearly not qualifying, but overall we were lacking general grip,” he said.

“It was trickier than I hoped but overall we have a decent race car. We will be quick on the straights, so hopefully we can use that tomorrow.”

French Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton to start 300th GP fourth

10:10 , Ben Burrows

Lewis Hamilton will start his 300th Formula One race from fourth on the grid.

Hamilton’s Mercedes team harboured high hopes for the 12th round of the campaign here in the scorching south of France heat.

A new floor, coupled with the smooth Circuit Paul Ricard asphalt, even led some within Mercedes to believe Hamilton could end both his, and the team’s, barren run by securing his 104th triumph in his landmark race.

But the Silver Arrows have lost further ground to Ferrari and Red Bull with Hamilton nine tenths adrift. George Russell was 1.2 sec slower than Leclerc.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, who was joined by Dieter Zetsche - the former chairman of Mercedes’ parent company Daimler - at the back of the team’s garage, cut a largely disconsolate figure.

Wolff has overseen Mercedes’ record-breaking run of eight consecutive constructors’ championships - but as the sport approaches its traditional summer break, the once all-conquering team are no closer to unlocking the speed to allow them to compete with Ferrari and Red Bull.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

French Grand Prix: Carlos Sainz happy to help Charles Leclerc

10:03 , Ben Burrows

Ferrari have won the last two races, Sainz in Britain and Leclerc in Austria, but Ferrari’s bid to win their first title since 2008 has been damaged by unreliability and engine failures.

There has been talk of tension in the team, particularly after Leclerc lost out to Sainz at Silverstone on strategy.

Sainz said Saturday’s qualifying showed Ferrari were working well together.

“I’m happy that Charles got the pole position, that we are up there as a team,” he said.

“I think we received a lot of criticism this year for the strategy and today just showed we are a very solid team and we get on very well, there’s a very good atmosphere and we are willing to help each other as much as possible.”

French Grand Prix: Carlos Sainz backs teammate Charles Leclerc

09:58 , Ben Burrows

Carlos Sainz backed Charles Leclerc to win today’s race despite having both Red Bull drivers right behind on the starting grid.

The Spaniard can be of no help during the race as he starts from the back due to engine penalties.

“He will have to fight on his own tomorrow against (championship leader) Max (Verstappen) but I believe he can do it,” Sainz told Sky Sports.

“I think this car in every race we go to is very quick. It’s all about nailing the start and nailing the strategy, which I’m sure the team will do well.”

French Grand Prix: Charles Leclerc starts on pole position

09:52 , Ben Burrows

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc received a boost from teammate Carlos Sainz that helped him beat Red Bull's championship leader Max Verstappen to pole position.

Spaniard Sainz, who already knew he would be starting at the back on Sunday due to engine penalties, 'towed' Leclerc in his slipstream at Le Castellet's smooth-surfaced Circuit Paul Ricard.

The extra speed made a difference.

"It was a great lap. I've struggled all weekend to put a lap together and I managed to put it," said Leclerc, who is second overall but 38 points adrift of Verstappen in the standings after 11 of 22 races.

"I also had the help of Carlos and that was amazing teamwork, because without Carlos it would have been much more close," added the Monegasque.

"So huge thanks to Carlos and I hope that he can join us back in the fight for the win tomorrow."

Teamwork makes the dream work for Ferrari but Mercedes once again fall short

French Grand Prix

09:50 , Ben Burrows

Follow live coverage of the French Grand Prix where Charles Leclerc starts on pole position ahead of title rival Max Verstappen.

Leclerc - who breathed fresh life into his championship bid with a comprehensive victory at the last round in Austria a fortnight ago - capitalised on a tow from Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz in qualifying to beat championship leader Verstappen and take pole for the race with Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez third.

Lewis Hamilton, starting his 300th Formula One race, is fourth on the grid.

McLaren have brought more upgrades to France than at any other stage of the season, and Lando Norris split the Mercedes drivers to qualify fifth, one place ahead of George Russell.

Fernando Alonso starts seventh in his Alpine, three places ahead of teammate Esteban Ocon, with Yuki Tsunoda of AlphaTauri and Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren between them.