Bottas leads rainswept final practice in France

Bottas leads rainswept final practice in France

Bottas leads rainswept final practice in France

Lewis Hamilton reclaimed the lead in the Formula One world championship with a comfortable victory Sunday in the French Grand Prix's return to the calendar.

"My start was very good, but then I had no place to go", Vettel said.

Mercedes driver Hamilton was leapfrogged by Vettel last time out in Montreal, but he opened a 14-point advantage at the summit by converting his 75th pole position into a win at the first F1 race in France since 2008.

Vettel pitted to have the car's nose replaced while Bottas' tyre was almost entirely gone by the time he got back to his Mercedes team. "I got a great response from the crowd and I'm delighted to be here for the first time", said Hamilton, who described his final session as "so-so".

In the post-race conference, the top three drivers - Lewis Hamilton, Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen - were asked by Autosport about Vettel's clash and the penalty he received that allowed him to finish fifth, two places ahead of Bottas.

Hamilton made a good enough start to be just clear of the crash between Vettel and Bottas at the start, and after a five-lap intervention by the safety vehicle, leapt away at the re-start and was never seen again.

"It was my mistake", conceded Vettel.

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Bottas had to restart at the back of the pack with Vettel, who race officials gave a five-second penalty for causing the collision. "It's too little. Five seconds is nothing".

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"I braked quite a bit later, left enough room for him to be inside still, but I think he just went and hit me".

The Toro Rosso of Pierre Gasly crashed into the Force India of Esteban Ocon that did significant damage to both cars and forced them out. Mercedes kept Hamilton out until lap 33 when he stopped for the soft tyres, emerging behind Raikkonen who had yet to stop.

The Finn came in one lap later to rejoin fifth soon after Ricciardo had blasted past an uneven-looking Vettel, who ran wide at Le Beausset.

Alonso was running 12th in the closing stages, ahead of Vandoorne, when he chose to pit for fresh tyres and try for the fastest lap.

Vettel showed no signs of damage, and began his charge back through the field.

After several days of heat-wave conditions, heavy thunderstorms are forecast to continue on Sunday when the first French Grand Prix for a decade, and first at Le Castellet's "Paul Ricard" circuit in 28 years, is scheduled to start.

Kevin Magnussen benefitted from a late engine issue for Carlos Sainz in the Renault to inherit sixth, beating Bottas in seventh.

McLaren's hard weekend also continued with Stoffel Vandoorne 12th and Fernando Alonso sounding increasingly frustrated on the radio and would, in fact, finish as the last classified runner after a late pit-stop to try and set the fastest lap.

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