Lewis and Valtteri lined up first and second on the grid at Paul Ricard, starting the race on the SuperSoft tyre.
The first lap was chaotic, with Lewis emerging clear in P1. However, Valtteri was spun around by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and dropped to the back of the field with a puncture.
Various incidents brought out the Safety Car, with Valtteri pitting for a fresh set of Soft tyres at the end of lap one. The race restarted on lap six with Lewis leading and Valtteri P18.
Lewis opened up a comfortable lead over Max Verstappen’s Red Bull, while Valtteri soon started picking his way through the field.
Having extended his advantage, Lewis pitted for Soft tyres on lap 33. Valtteri dived into the pits for a second time on lap 39 for a fresh set of SuperSofts.
Lewis crossed the line seven seconds clear of Verstappen to claim his 65th F1 victory, third of 2018 and first win in France – also retaking the lead in the Drivers’ Championship.
A late Virtual Safety Car halted Valtteri’s charge and he had to settle for seventh place after an impressive recovery drive.
Lewis secured his 44th victory with the team, but it proved to be a day of mixed fortunes after Valtteri’s difficult Sunday in France.
“It is hard to be unhappy on a day when you have won the race in fine style, both reclaiming the lead in the Drivers’ Championship and extending our advantage in the Constructors’,” said Technical Director, James Allison.
“Lewis drove a splendid race and had everything under control throughout; it was a faultless performance. “But it is hard not to feel very sorry for Valtteri, who also had a terrific weekend and saw his race compromised at Turn 1 through no fault of his own.
“On the bright side, though, the car performance was good all weekend and we can travel to Austria with the optimism that we can keep up the good work in the next races.”
Lewis: “When you’re constructive and criticise yourself, approach a challenge with new methods and a new-found determination, it’s a great feeling to then get the result. “But it’s also disappointing for the team as we had the opportunity to take a 1-2, which is always incredible as you achieve your ultimate goal as a team.
“I was very comfortable with the balance this afternoon. Max had decent pace, but I could maintain the gap at around five seconds. “The fresh engine put us back in line with everyone else who took a new PU in Canada and everybody in the team should be feeling happy today for the good work they have done.
“But there’s a long way to go and we’ll keep approaching the rest of the season like we approached today.” Valtteri: “That was a shame because we had a strong car today as Lewis’ result shows. But my race was lost in Turn 1.
“I was on the outside going into it and I knew that keeping that line would put me on the inside for Turn 2. Then suddenly I got a hit from behind, had a puncture and damaged my floor.
“After that it was difficult as the car was quite damaged and I could feel the lack of rear end. I was sliding around and had to do a second pit stop which was unfortunately slow, so we lost more time there.
“I guess today was just not my day; in a way it sums up my season so far. But there are some positives – we were strong as a team, although unfortunately we could not turn that into a perfect points result.
“I also set the fastest lap of the race despite the condition of the car. I’ll keep my head down, work hard and hopefully the luck will turn around at some point – I think it’s about time.”
Toto: “This was a perfect way for Lewis to start the triple header and to bounce back from the disappointment of Canada. Whenever he has a tough weekend, he has this fantastic ability to bounce straight back, and we saw that again here in Paul Ricard.
“He pretty much controlled the whole race and didn’t put a wheel wrong at any point. For Valtteri, it was a much tougher day: Sebastian clearly misjudged his braking for Turn 1 and made a mistake, which cost both him and Valtteri dearly.
“When the car stopped, we saw that the floor area around the tyre was pretty badly damaged and flapping about – and Valtteri described the car balance as “shocking”. Taking that into account, it was a battling performance from him, too.
“Overall, though, we leave seeing the positive side of our performance this weekend. The car was quick and with our upgrades, it felt like we made a step forward; thank you to everybody in the team who worked so hard to bring them to the track this weekend.
“But we can’t afford to make any assumptions about what this means for the next races – it’s still a three-way fight and we will need to be at our very best if we wish to repeat this performance.”