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F1: Hamilton dominates French Grand Prix as Vettel falters

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Sunday’s French Grand Prix was a tale of two races of sorts, depending on where you were running.

For Lewis Hamilton, the race was very routine, as he led from the pole and dominated the run, leading all but one lap on the way to winning by just over seven seconds.

Behind him, however, chaos reigned, especially on the opening lap, most notably impacting title rival Sebastian Vettel. Vettel got a great jump off the line, but locked up the brakes entering Turn 1 and plowed into the left-rear of Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.

The contact sent Bottas spinning and damaged the front wing of Vettel, who was later assessed a five-second penalty for avoidable contact.

That same lap, Pierre Gasly suffered a similar lockup and plowed into Esteban Ocon, sending both drivers spinning and damaging both cars.

The two Frenchmen retired on the spot, and their incident forced a Safety Car.

Racing resumed on Lap 6, with Hamilton now leading Max Verstappen, who evaded the Lap 1 chaos to run in second, with Daniel Ricciardo making quick work of Carlos Sainz Jr. to run third.

Deeper in the field, Vettel and Bottas began charging back through the field, though Vettel was making quicker progress – he was back inside the Top 5 on Lap 20, while Bottas was in 10th at that time.

However, their charge stalled in the second half of the race. Vettel briefly ran in podium contention after Hamilton, Verstappen, and Ricciardo pitted – Vettel had gotten ahead of Ricciardo in that cycle – but was powerless to keep Ricciardo behind him, with the Red Bull Racing driver blitzing his way by.

Vettel’s teammate Kimi Raikkonen did the same soon after, and Ferrari eventually decided to pit Vettel again late in the race for fresher tires.

Mercedes did the same with Bottas as well, and the two finished fifth (Vettel) and seventh (Bottas).

Up front, however, no one had anything for Hamilton, who cruised to a seemingly easy win.

Verstappen drove a solid race to finish second, while Raikkonen made a late pass on Ricciardo to take the final spot on the podium in third.

Behind the front five, Kevin Magnussen finished a solid sixth for Haas, right in between the aforementioned Vettel and Bottas.

Carlos Sainz Jr. and Nico Hulkenberg gave Renault a double points finish in their home race – they finished eighth and ninth – while Charles Leclerc put in another sterling effort to finish tenth, his fourth points scoring effort of the 2018 Formula 1 season.

Results are below. Hamilton now leads Vettel by 14 points, while Ricciardo remains in third, four points ahead of Bottas.


Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry. Time just published a brief piece by Wallace saluting Hamilton as a trailblazer.

The idea of Hamilton attending the NASCAR season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it would seem right for Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — to spend some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).