Hamilton fastest in French Grand Prix practice

Hamilton gets new engine but Mercedes won't say which one

Hamilton gets new engine but Mercedes won't say which one

The Ferrari driver collided with the Briton's Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas at the start of Sunday's French Grand Prix, an error that handed the championship lead to eventual race victor Hamilton.

Vettel believes he could have challenged Hamilton for the win, but he said the nature of his race following the incident made it hard to judge what was possible.

"It was my mistake, I tried to brake early and get out of it, but I had no room and no grip, being so close to the vehicle in front and also next to me". "I enjoyed the race, for me the best French Grand Prix I have ever had".

This resulted in a penalty for Vettel, although Bottas suffered rather more than the Ferrari driver.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen, who finished as the runner-up to Hamilton, has courted criticism this season following a number of crashes.

While talking after the race, Hamilton had a similar opinion after looking at a reply of the accident on a TV screen, "Jeez, he took him right out". Vettel and Bottas were at the back following their repairs. Bottas had to limp back to the pits for a new tyres.

Video images later showed extensive scorching to the rear of the auto and the Swede was unable to take part in second practice due to the damage.

The win means Hamilton returns to the top of the drivers' championship ahead of Vettel, who drops down to second place.

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Awful day for two Frenchmen - Pierre Gasly hit Esteban Ocon in the first lap, taking them both out of the race, and bringing a safety vehicle out while all the debris was cleared, meaning a chaotic first 20 seconds of the race followed by a prim procession. Starting fourth, he gained from the Vettel-Bottas incident.

"For me, it is definitely disappointing because the team had a chance for a one-two", Hamilton said.

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

Asked if there was anything he felt he would do differently if he could relive the moment, Vettel replied: "With hindsight, I would have liked to have a worse start, because then it would have been more straightforward, I wouldn't be in that position. "(But) we are all fighting for world championships.

Renault's Nico Hulkenberg took ninth place with Monaco rookie Charles Leclerc a fine 10th for Sauber and denying Haas's French driver Romain Grosjean his first point of the season.

Driving conditions were optimal at the 5.8-kilometer (3.6-mile) circuit situated just inland from the Cote d' Azur.

The last time Le Castellet held an F1 race was in 1990 when French great Alain Prost won for Ferrari.

Bottas finally climbed back to sixth to restore the three big teams' routine occupation of the top positions and, with 12 laps remaining, caused a surprise when he pitted again.

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