Red Bull’s Max Verstappen easily won the French GP and took a massive stride towards retaining his Formula 1 crown after Ferrari’s pole sitter and race leader Charles Leclerc crashed while leading comfortably.

The victory at Le Castellet, Verstappen’s seventh in 12 races this season, gives him a handy 63-point advantage over his title rival with 10 races remaining.

Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton finished second for Mercedes in his 300th Grand Prix, with teammate George Russell completing the podium after catching out a sluggish Sergio Perez following a restart after a virtual safety car.

Carlos Sainz was fifth for Ferrari after starting at the back due to engine penalties and managed to complete the fastest lap as well for a bonus point but was once again left unamused by his team’s orders. The Spaniard would have finished higher, having got himself up to third, but was pitted a second time with 10 laps remaining in a strategy decision questioned by some.

He also had to serve a five-second penalty for an unsafe release from an earlier stop.

Fernando Alonso was sixth for Alpine, who moved ahead of McLaren and into fourth place in the constructors’ standings while McLaren’s Lando Norris was seventh and Alpine’s Esteban Ocon eighth after overtaking McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo, who finished ninth.

Lance Stroll took the final point in 10th for Aston Martin after fighting teammate Sebastian Vettel to the last corner.

At the start of the race, Leclerc held off Verstappen from pole position, with the Dutchman needing six laps before he could get close enough to attempt a move but Ferrari, faster in corners, helped Leclerc remain just out of reach with the race shaping up as another battle between the two.

With Leclerc pulling away, Verstappen pitted for new tires on lap 16 but did not need to do anything else as Leclerc lost his rear tires on lap 18 and crashed into the barriers nose first, ending his race. The Ferrari driver screamed in rage and frustration over the radio after not being able to finish a race from the leading position for a third time this season.

His crash prompted a brief safety car period but Max Verstappen easily held off the pack to win the French GP.

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