Lewis Hamilton may have looked in complete control, but he insists his victory at Formula 1’s French Grand Prix “wasn’t easy at all”.

Hamilton led all 53 laps as he turned in a dominant performance from pole position to beat Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas by over 18 seconds at Paul Ricard.

The Briton has extended his advantage over Bottas at the top of the championship to 36 points with his sixth victory of the 2019 season.

“It wasn’t easy at all,” Hamilton said after taking the 79th win of his career.

“There’s always things happening, always on the edge. These cars, as you know, everything is running to a temperature; reliability is everything.

“I had two big blisters on the tyres, so I was a little bit worried. I remember last year, Lance [Stroll], had a tyre blow out, so I was a bit worried about that.

“It was a really controlled race, I was chasing lap performance each lap and trying to increase the gap,” he added.

“I think right at the beginning it was quite a good start but Valtteri was within a second or two and then I eventually kind of got my bearings and was able to bridge the gap.

“But I was pushing the whole way, apart from trying to save the tyres because the tyres were actually a bit more limiting today.

“We didn’t think the Mediums would go as long as they did today, and then the Hards were not as good as the Mediums, which is rare for us.

“Then I had the blisters at the end and the car shifted at the end and I was a little bit worried, i didn’t want to push too much and have the tyre pop.”

Hamilton and Bottas recorded Mercedes’ 50th one-two finish in F1,  having successfully converted a record-breaking 63rd front-row lockout.

Asked how the team keeps motivated, Hamilton replied: “My team is very, very  calm, so you kind of get the sense sometimes that it is what they expect.

“They are internally happy but it’s a little bit of an odd one. Otherwise, I think it’s just always wanting to elevate. After every race there is always something we want to do better.

“So like today, something small from the end, they were like ‘don’t bother with the fastest lap, you can’t get the fastest lap’ and I’m like ‘what do you mean? I have nothing to lose and I’m going for it’. I went for it and I nearly got it.

“It’s just switching the mentally to always be fighting and always be hungry and pushing. There’s never a moment you shouldn’t be pushing and the moment you sit back is the moment you lose, and I don’t plan on doing that.”

 

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