LEWIS HAMILTON came second in the French Grand Prix behind Max Verstappen while Charles Leclerc crashed
Lewis Hamilton shows off his 1966 Shelby Cobra 427 car
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Lewis Hamilton has said he expects the rest of the season to be ‘smooth sailing’ for Max Verstappen after his French Grand Prix win. The Briton also expressed his disappointment for Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc after he crashed out from the lead during the middle stages of the race.
Verstappen’s win, coupled with Leclerc’s crash, means the Red Bull star now sits 63 points clear at the top of the Driver’s Championship. With just 10 races left to go of the season, the Dutchman is now the overwhelming favourite to defend the title he claimed in controversial circumstances last season.
This view is shared by Hamilton who has said he expects his arch-rival to breeze to the title during the rest of the season. However, in a cheeky play against his nemesis, the Mercedes man stressed that Ferrari should keep trying despite the might of the RB18, in order to force the drinks manufacturer into mistakes.
“It is a massive gap to Max so that is pretty smooth-sailing for him in that space,” the 103-time race winner said. “But a lot can go wrong. I would just advise Ferrari to keep their heads down and continue to push.”
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Lewis Hamilton thinks Max Verstappen will breeze to the title after Charles Leclerc’s crash (Image: GETTY)
The legendary driver also spoke about his sympathy for Leclerc and the wider Ferrari team. The Monegasque star crashed out at turn 11 on lap 18 of race after making a mistake under little pressure. Had the positions stayed the same until the chequered flag the 24-year-old could have cut the championship gap to a less daunting 31 points instead.
“I’m gutted for Charles, who’s been doing a great job, as has Carlos,” Hamilton said. “It’s not easy though, having that pace and that performance and maintaining it.
“It’s a tough job and I feel for the whole team because I know what that can feel like. But they’re a great team, and they’ll continue to keep their heads down.”
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Charles Leclerc has replaced Lewis Hamilton as Max Verstappen’s main title challenger this year (Image: GETTY)
Ferrari and Leclerc have made significant errors across the course of the season which look likely to cost them both the Drivers and Constructors title. Leclerc spun off during the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix to finish sixth despite being almost assured third.
Furthermore, a botched pit stop strategy by the Prancing Horses cost the five-time race winner what seemed like a certain race win to come behind both Bulls and his teammate Sainz.
Red Bull and Verstappen have not made the same mistakes and look set to profit from it. The only issue came early in the season as a result of poor reliability however both title protagonists have now suffered two technical DNFs each.
Hamilton, Verstappen and Leclerc will each hope to compete for the win during this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix, the 13th round of the 22-race season.