Verstappen expects Hamilton fight “like this for the rest of the season” after narrow win

2021 French Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen said he “had to work hard” to reclaim the lead of the French Grand Prix from Lewis Hamilton on the penultimate lap of the race.

Verstappen ran wide at turn two on the first lap of the race, losing the lead to Hamilton. He regained the lead by making his first pit stop one lap before the Mercedes driver, who emerged from the pits behind him after his first stop.

The Red Bull driver made a second pit stop on lap 31, which dropped him behind both Mercedes drivers but was able to catch Valtteri Bottas on lap 47 and Hamilton on the penultimate lap to reclaim the lead.

Speaking after his win, Verstappen said Hamilton was able to pass him at the first corner because “I just lost the rear, tried to correct it, correct it, correct it but it kept going.”

He said the race had become more enjoyable “towards the end” but that “at the beginning it was super-difficult with the wind, so one lap you had an okay balance and the next lap you were just sliding everywhere, so [it was] really difficult to keep the car stable.”

Verstappen first took the lead from Hamilton after the latter pitted, emerging just behind the Red Bull. The Mercedes pair followed him closely at the beginning of the second stint.

“Once we made the first pit stop then you could clearly see, on the hard tyres, they were pushing me hard from behind,” said Verstappen. “But then when we made the call to do the two-stop then in the end that paid off.

“We had to work hard for it but, of course, very rewarding.”

After pitting for the second time, it took until the second-to-last lap of the race for Verstappen to come within DRS range of Hamilton. He said “It [was] difficult because there was quite a lot of back markers to go through but luckily they did well and we could have a good fight to the end.

“As you could see, the whole race we were fighting each other so I think it will be like this for the rest of the season.”

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2021 French Grand Prix

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Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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12 comments on “Verstappen expects Hamilton fight “like this for the rest of the season” after narrow win”

  1. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
    20th June 2021, 16:17

    A shame Singapore isn’t going to be a venue this year: would’ve been an amazig track/vibe to see a close fight at

    1. @barryfromdownunder I don’t think we would see a particularly close race there. Merc would struggle as they did at Monaco and a fair portion of the Baku weekend and RB would probably just drive off into the literal sunset

      1. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
        20th June 2021, 18:04

        True, but that also wouldn’t be a terrible sight!

      2. And that would be probably needed cause despite a few people here saying red bull has the best car, I still have yet to see a non-street track where red bull is faster in race pace, and with 16 races like this missing, it’s advantage mercedes unless red bull can find something (obviously singapore alone couldn’t compensate that).

  2. I think this is probably the most laps flat out driving by Max we have seen so far. Absolutely wringing the RB16B and the tyres there… Amazing victory. Hamilton didn’t really put a foot wrong all GP. But the risky strategy from Redbull ultimately paid off. But what a gamble that second pitstop.

    1. The kind of flat outs you get from Pirelli. Yep, it is great for once to see two drivers giving it their most and not just cruising ahead, but anyway their laps were still a lot slower than the quali lap. You cannot go flat out for more than a lap on chewing-gum tyres.

      1. Kinda true but flat out without killing his tyres is still flat out. These tyres just have a big difference between ultimate pace (and overheating) and race pace.. Check out the times from FP2 when they were doing long runs..

    2. Hamilton made several errors during the chase.
      One of them a very aggressive approach at the curbs in turn 2.
      One of the reasons he had to abandon his chase.
      When Max pitted he had a almost 4 sec gap already.
      But still impressive tire management from Perez and Lewis.
      If the race had lasted 3 laps longer, Perez would have passed him

    3. @w0o0dy

      Hamilton didn’t really put a foot wrong all GP

      He went off and clouted the kerb so hard he had to radio the team worried the car was damaged. Lucky it wasn’t. Obviously lost some time in the process too.

    4. Yes, was looking for someone who pointed this out, it seemed an insane gamble to me too, verstappen had a pretty safe 1st place when he pitted, really risked to throw it away, which I said immediately when he did.

  3. If this is the rest of the season it will be one of the best in a good long while. Sincerely hope so.

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