Updated: Jul 25
Another Grand Prix, another disaster for Ferrari. With the race seemingly in hand, Charles Leclerc crashed out before his first pit stop, allowing his championship rival Max Verstappen an easy victory over the Mercedes’ of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell.
Leclerc got off the starting line extremely well at the start of the race, forcing Verstappen to push hard early to stay close enough for an overtake. The superior cornering ability of the Ferrari made life difficult for Verstappen, however, and the championship leader damaged his tires early staying behind Leclerc. Verstappen had to make an early pit stop, leaving Leclerc out on his own and in a solid position to continue his push to bring the Driver’s Championship back into reach. Disaster struck a few laps later, though, as Leclerc spun out going around turn 12, running straight into the barrier. The safety car was deployed and when all the pit stops were complete, Max Verstappen led the race, never to look back.
Lewis Hamilton took advantage of a great start, holding off Sergio Perez for the first stint and cruising to an easy second place. The only real excitement came from the battle for third, as Sergio Perez, George Russell, and Carlos Sainz all looked as though they had a chance at the final podium position. With ten laps remaining, Sainz worked his way all the way up to third place after starting P19 due to an engine penalty. The strategy team at Ferrari pulled him into the pit box from third place, concerned about the ability of his medium compound tires to make it to the end. After serving a five second penalty stemming from an unsafe release on his first pit stop, he came out in 7th place, eventually making it back to fifth. George Russell had constant pressure on Sergio Perez in the final stages. With a few laps to go, Russell sent a dive bomb up the inside on Perez, forcing the Red Bull driver off the track. Russell was finally able to overtake Perez on a Virtual Safety Car restart, brought out by a retired Zhou Guanyu, securing third place and Mercedes’ first double podium of the year.
Red Bull extended their lead in the Constructors Championship, leading Ferrari 396 to 314. Max Verstappen took a commanding lead in the Drivers Championship, pulling ahead of Leclerc by 63 points, 233 to 170.
Full Race Results:
DNF: Nicholas Latifi, Kevin Magnussen, Charles Leclerc, Yuki Tsunoda