Verstappen looked set to bring home a Red Bull one-two, only for a rear-left tyre failure to let him down as he started the 47th lap.
The crash led to an immediate safety car which was turned into a red flag. With only two laps to go, the cars lined up in the pit lane, waiting for the race to restart.
Saturday’s qualifying was an incredible spectacle which consisted of four red flags.
The last of the red flags ended Q3 early for the second race in a row with Leclerc claiming pole position.
Luckily for the Frenchman, he was able take to the grid this time round. The session ending crash included Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz, and Alpha Tauri’s Yuki Tsunoda, both of whom crashed at the same corner – turn 15 – as Lance Stroll and Antonio Giovanazzi, in Q1, and Daniel Ricciardo in Q2.
In the end, the lap that gave Charles Leclerc pole was aided by the tow he got from Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton, who got a tow from Bottas on his fast lap, could only qualify in second, with Verstappen third. Pierre Gasly, Carlos Sainz, Lando Norris, Sergio Perez, Yuki Tsunoda, Fernando Alonso, and Valtteri Bottas made up the rest of the top 10.
Looking good for Max
The first few laps went pretty much as expected due to the short run to the first corner. Leclerc lost out to Hamilton on lap two, Verstappen on six and Sergio Perez on eight. It was clear that Ferrari’s race pace wasn’t going to be good enough today.
Championship leader, Lewis Hamilton, led until a slow stop because of an Alpha Tauri coming down the pit lane, which put him behind both Red Bull drivers, with Verstappen taking the lead.
Although the gap between the front three never grew too big, similar lap times and strategies prevented any potential overtakes.
Lance Stroll then crashed for the second time during the week, on lap 31, causing the safety car to come out.
The drivers restarted racing on lap 36 with Vettel taking advantage, getting himself up to 4th by overtaking Leclerc and Gasly in quick succession.
In fact, the entire field was never spread out, apart from Nikita Mazepin who somehow got himself lapped. That was until Verstappen’s crash, which forced a red flag, and a standing restart.
Final two laps
As the drivers left, eyes were on the front three. Perez was hoping to hold off Hamilton, while Vettel was aiming to finish on the podium for the first time since the 2020 Turkish grand prix.
As the cars lined up, Hamilton’s brakes were smoking. Lights went off, Hamilton flew off, got in front, and kept going straight instead of turning.
Clearly, his brakes had failed, which explained the smoke.
Perez went on to win his first race for Red bull, and Vettel gave Aston Martin their first podium since returning to F1.
With Hamilton going off, a place on the podium was up for grabs. Lando Norris (Mclaren), Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) and Pierre Gasly (Alpha Tauri) were all in with a shout. It was Gasly who was able to overtake Leclerc and finish third.
Two safety cars, five red flags, a short-run qualifying session, two standing starts, and a surprising podium.
zerNext stop, France.