Formula One: Hamilton wins in France to retake F1 lead

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Lewis Hamilton won the 2018 F1 French Grand Prix for Mercedes on Sunday at the Circuit Paul Ricard after leading the race from start to finish. "I was hit in Turn 1, got a puncture, that made quite a bit of damage in the floor, which made it quite hard to comeback through, but at least we got some points".

The 90-minute opening session was red-flagged with a minute remaining when Ericsson lost control at the Beausset corner, spun and hit the barriers hard, with the Sauber auto then catching fire.

It did nothing to slow him and as soon as Bottas had gone fastest, Hamilton cut his time by half a second with a scorching lap.

The Red Bull of Max Verstappen completed the second row.

After the race Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda suggested Vettel should have been punished more severely, but Verstappen's thoughts on the incident centred around the events of his own season so far.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain sits in his vehicle in the pits during qualifying at the Paul Ricard racetrack, in Le Castellet, southern France, Saturday, June 23.

Haas driver Kevin Magnussen took sixth, ahead of Bottas, who was not able to make as much progress as Vettel as a result of damage to his floor which affected his downforce and handling balance.

Vettel returned to the pits for a new front wing while Bottas limped back on three wheels and a rim with the remains of the tyre flailing.

The incident dropped both to the back of the field after pitstops while the safety vehicle was deployed for four laps with debris scattered across the track from other accidents.

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The Mercedes driver led from start to finish other than one lap around his pit stop to move 14 points ahead of Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, who finished fifth.

"My start was too good and then I ended up with nowhere to go", he said to journalists in the paddock.

Bottas credited the upgrade with the gains on the track. "In the end I was reasonably happy with today's run".

"It really annoyed me and was stupid to ask".

"From there, obviously we had a good recovery but it wasn't the race we wanted".

They were followed by Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen, Renault's Carlos Sainz Jr. and Sauber rookie Charles Leclerc, who impressed with his first top-10 time.

Basking in the Mediterranean sun, driving conditions were optimal at the 5.8-kilometre circuit situated next to a private airport where planes took off and landed all weekend.

Sunday's victory was the 65th of Hamilton's F1 career but the Briton's first in France, which last hosted a race in 2008.

The return of the French GP is the first part of an unprecedented tripleheader of three races on consecutive weekends.

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