By Carol M. Creasey
He made way for rookie Nyck de Vries to run his car in FP1, and spent the whole time supporting him, and also his assistant Angela Cullen was on hand to offer her support as well. In FP2 Lewis took part, but the short run pace Mercedes had hoped for was not there, and by the time Qualifying came around, it seemed unlikely that either Lewis or George would be fighting for pole.
After giving it absolutely everything, Lewis qualified in fourth place and George was sixth. Charles Leclerc got pole, Verstappen was second, and Perez third. But what was even more disappointing for Mercedes was the fact that they were further away on one lap pace than they had been in Austria. Although they had brought upgrades, so had the other teams, which meant that it was going to be a very tough on race day.
The weather was very hot on Sunday, with track temperatures of over 50 degrees. When the race started Lewis made a crucial move right from the start, passing Perez for third place. Charles led with Verstappen next. Initially Perez tried to overtake Lewis, but he expertly held him off until he was no longer within the DRS window.
Sadly Leclerc made a mistake and crashed out from the lead, elevating Verstappen to first place, and Lewis to second. George Russell dropped to P5 at one point, being passed by Carlos Sainz, who had started 19th due to a grid penalty, and then by Perez. However, towards the end of the race Sainz pitted, and then the Virtual Safety Car came out, which gave George the opportunity to overtake a sleeping Perez at the restart, and get the final place on the podium.
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Lewis was really exhilarated at grabbing second, his highest position of the 2022 season, in his 300th Formula 1 race. He thanked his team for their continuing hard work to improve the car, and was also very gracious in his praise of George.
There was no doubt that in France it definitely wasn’t ‘the car’ that provided this magnificent result, it was Lewis who rung absolutely every bit of performance out of it that he could. Toto Wolff explained how it is Lewis who is inspiring and driving the team to improve, he doesn’t moan about how difficult it is, he gets his head down with the mechanics and works with them in trying to understand the car.
Some people have written Lewis off this year, and even said he should retire, but he will go on his terms, when he has achieved everything that he wants to. Today with Lewis and George both on the podium, it is very heartening for Mercedes. I am really looking forward to when the teams with illegal floors are forced to comply with the regulation, and then it will be a level playing field for everyone. I really enjoyed watching the French Grand Prix, well done to Lewis, George and Mercedes. I am sure there is more to come!
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