'Grateful' Hamilton back in F1 c'ship lead

LE CASTELLET • Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton won the French Grand Prix from pole position for Mercedes yesterday to retake the overall championship lead from Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, who finished fifth after a first-lap collision with Hamilton's team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

The victory was the 65th of Hamilton's F1 career but the Briton's first in France, which was returning to the calendar after a 10-year absence.

He now has 145 points in the drivers' championship, leading Vettel by 14 after eight of 21 races.

Red Bull's Dutch 20-year-old Max Verstappen was second, with Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari completing the podium.

"I feel very grateful, grateful for a solid weekend. My guys, I have been with them for six years. They are pushing the boundaries and never giving up, so I want to thank them and everyone at the factory," said Hamilton.

"This is a great day. I enjoyed the race. The weather has been good and it's good to see so many people here."

On regaining the championship lead, he added: "I hadn't thought about it, but that is where I want to be."

Hamilton started his race just minutes after the England national football team thrashed Panama 6-1 at the World Cup in Russia and the Mercedes driver could not hide his delight.

"Great work guys, so happy for England as well; it is a beautiful Sunday everyone," he said.

His victory at Le Castellet, a southern circuit that last hosted Formula One in 1990, set a record for the most wins at different grands prix.

He had shared the record of 22 with retired seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher. He also extended his record of wins at different circuits to 26.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 25, 2018, with the headline ''Grateful' Hamilton back in F1 c'ship lead'. Print Edition | Subscribe