Max Verstappen won the French Grand Prix with a dominant run and made a significant step toward his second Formula One world championship as title rival Charle Leclerc’s hopes were left in tatters as he crashed out from the lead.

The Red Bull driver eased to victory at Paul Ricard from Lewis Hamilton in second and George Russell in third taking the first double podium for Mercedes this season. Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Pérez was fourth, and Carlos Sainz in fifth from 19th on the grid for Ferrari.

Verstappen’s win from second on the grid was unspectacular in a race that was defined by the moment Leclerc made an uncharacteristic error that has dealt his his championships hopes an enormous blow.

second in the championship to 63 points, with ten races remaining. Having been 46 points behind Leclerc at the third round in Australia, the turnaround is indicative of just how dominant and consistent Red Bull have been over all but two of the last nine races.

Leclerc made a clean getaway from pole to hold the lead while Hamilton leapt out of his blocks and jumped Pérez to take third. Leclerc could not drop Verstappen over the opening three laps, the Dutchman sitting within DRS range as the pair dropped, Hamilton by over five seconds.

On lap six Verstappen was within striking distance looking to use his DRS but Leclerc drove a strong defensive line. Verstappen looked to have slightly superior race pace in a straight line but did not have enough to make the pass. While Hamilton managed a solid one-second advantage over Pérez.

The two title contenders out front were inseparable, matching one another almost identically for pace, until Leclerc managed to eke out almost two seconds on his rival, Verstappen backing off to bide his time and manage his tyres.

The Dutchman duly pitted on lap 16 to take the hard rubber and go for the undercut while Leclerc stayed out, only for disaster to strike two laps later. He overcooked it, lost the rear and spun out into the wall at turn 11 and admitted it had been his fault.