Verstappen cruises to his 7th victory as the Dutch make the most of Leclerc’s misfortune.

We are done with round 12 of the 2022 Formula one season, and it’s Max Verstappen who has struck again at Le Castlette. 

Once again, this season, we got to witness an exciting race full of all the action and drama.  

There were numerous points to talk about in the race. From Max’s charge to Leclerc’s DNF. From Sainz’s magical drive to Mercedes double podium. Let’s look at the defining moments of the race and what they mean for the Championship.

Leclerc’s unforced error

Charles Leclerc won the pole at Saturday’s qualifying and led the race right from the start. 

Winning the race at Paul Ricard was all about getting perfect tyre management. Championship leader and title rival Max Verstappen pitted on lap 17. This meant it was up to Ferrari to respond to the early move by Red Bull. However, on lap 18, Charles Leclerc crashed into the barriers ending his race. The Monegasque experienced a cruel snap of oversteer at turn 11, ending his scarlet Ferrari into the barriers.

This meant the end of the race for the 24-year-old. This triggered a Safety Car, due to which Max Verstappen got to inherit the lead. Verstappen, who was P7 when he came out of pits at lap 17, got the lead as everyone pitted during the Safety Car period. From there onwards, Verstappen smoothly led the race coming home to secure his 7th victory of the season. The Dutchman extends his championship lead to 63 points. Charles Leclerc’s scream after the crash explains all the emotions of Tifosi and the Ferrari team. This is his 3rd DNF of the season. Leclerc claimed all the responsibility for the crash shortly after in an interview:

Leclerc crashes into barriers at turn 11.

“A mistake, a mistake. I’ve been saying I think I’m performing at my highest level in my career but if I keep doing those mistakes then it’s pointless to perform at a very high level.” “It’s unacceptable, I just need to get on top of those things,” explained Leclerc.

Nevertheless, if Leclerc really wants to give a championship challenge to Red Bull and Max Verstappen, he needs to avoid these unforced errors. Ferrari’s reliability issues have already plagued his Championship contention. Going against a rival like Verstappen, Leclerc needs to be alert and aware all the time. Avoiding such rookie mistakes is a must. Now with 63 points lead to cover, it will be interesting to see how Leclerc comebacks. The Tifosi and Leclerc fans can only hope that this doesn’t become a repeat of the 2018 season for Ferrari.

Mercedes double podium

For almost a decade now, we had become used to seeing the Mercedes team getting double podiums. However, this wasn’t the case this season or at least till now this season. Mercedes scored a double podium here at Paul Ricard once again! George Russell scored a brilliant P3 after a late overtake on Sergio Perez at the end of the race. A virtual safety car on lap 50 was triggered by Zhou Guanyu’s on-track stoppage. George Russell caught what commentators described as a “sleeping” Perez off-guard and claimed the P3 position. Perez attacked Russell to claim back the podium slot, however, the Briton kept the Mexican at bay and came home to secure his 4th podium of the season.

Lewis Hamilton got off to an excellent start in the race. The 37-year-old 7-time world champion featuring in his 300th Grand Prix start jumped Perez on the race start itself. Perez couldn’t keep up with the pace of Hamilton. After the crash and DNF of Leclerc, Hamilton pitted under Safety Car and came out on P2, which he won’t lose for the rest of the race.

Russell overtakes Perez for P3 on lap 50.

As expected, Mercedes gave a splendid performance. Although, the Silver Arrows still seem off-pace if compared to Ferrari and Red Bull, but their reliability is a huge plus. Even after being slower than both Ferrari and Red Bull, the team is just 34 points behind the Scuderia on the Constructors standings. With incoming regulations change drama, we can expect Mercedes to strike back after the break. 

Sainz damage control

Carlos Sainz received a grid penalty which saw him start at the back of the grid. Starting 19th, the Spaniard overtook and reached the top 10 by lap 14 only. He pitted for a set of medium tyres during the Safety car period. However, an unsafe release saw him receive a 5-seconds stop-go penalty.

Sainz went on to hunt and chase till P3. He chased and overtook Sergio Perez on lap 42. Sainz seemed to have pace and make it to the end of the race. It seemed that he could increase the gap to more than 5-second behind him and even chase down Lewis Hamilton. In both conditions, he would’ve got a podium finish.

Sainz overtakes Perez on lap 42 down the main straight.

However, right after Sainz overtook Perez, the Spaniard was called in for a stop for new medium tyres. This saw him drop all the way back to P8 when he came out. Many critics and pundits are claiming this to be another strategic blunder by the Scuderia. World Champion Nico Rosberg said this while watching the live action from the pitlane at Paul Ricard:

“I was shaking my head, [thinking] ‘what on earth are they doing there?”

“They were talking to him in the middle of wheel-to-wheel action. Guys, what on earth are you? Carlos was P3 and he would have been able to comfortably stay there. The tyres would have been fine until the end and he would have even had the chance to get Lewis for P2.”

“They bring him in with no chance to go beyond P5 which is where he ended up. What on earth is going on there? Honestly, I think it’s time they made some serious changes,” added the German. However, Sainz came out to defend the Ferrari strategists saying what they did was “correct”: “Not the win but podium position with the perfect race could have made it.”

Sainz comes in to serve penalty on lap 42

“We started 19th, with how the pit stop went, finishing fifth and with the point from the fastest lap it is okay and I’m going to take it. I think the team has done a very good job with strategy.” Stay tuned at TheSportsWay for more updates.

Final Standings:

1Max VerstappenOracle Red Bull Racing25
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team18
3George RussellMercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team15
4Sergio PerezOracle Red Bull Racing12
5Carlos SainzScuderia Ferrari10
6Fernando AlonsoBWT Alpine F1 Team8
7Lando NorrisMcLaren F1 Team6
8Esteban OconBWT Alpine F1 Team4
9Daniel RicciardoMcLaren F1 Team2
10Lance Stroll Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team1
11Sebastian VettelAston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team
12Pierre GaslyScuderia AlphaTauri
13Alexander AlbonWilliams Racing
14Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo F1 Team Orlen
15Mick SchumacherHaas F1 Team
16Guanyu ZhouAlfa Romeo F1 Team Orlen
17Nicholas LatifiWilliams Racing
18Kevin MagnussenHaas F1 Team
19Yuki TsunodaScuderia AlphaTauri
20Charles LeclercScuderia Ferrari

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