Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Paul Ricard, 2021

Verstappen wins enthralling French Grand Prix with late pass on Hamilton

2021 French Grand Prix summary

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Max Verstappen stormed to victory in the French Grand Prix after passing Lewis Hamilton for the lead with one lap remaining.

A dramatic race-long battle between the two championship rivals saw Red Bull use a two stop strategy to allow Verstappen to chase down Hamilton and pass him to take his third win of the season and extend his championship lead. Sergio Perez finished third.

At the start, pole-winner Verstappen led away from Hamilton. But as the Red Bull driver rounded the first corner, a snap of oversteer caused the Red Bull to take to the escape road, losing the lead to his championship rival.

Hamilton was able to take advantage of an early lead to maintain a gap of around two seconds to the chasing Red Bull.

Charles Leclerc was the first driver to pit, immediately using the additional pace from the fresh tyres to undercut his team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr and Daniel Ricciardo to move up a considerable number of places.

With Leclerc demonstrating how powerful the undercut could be, Mercedes brought in Valtteri Bottas from third to try and position him to get ahead of Verstappen ahead. Red Bull immediately reacted and switched Verstappen onto the hard tyres the very next lap.

Mercedes chose to keep Hamilton out in the lead for an additional lap, believing they had enough of an advantage to pit the leader and resume ahead of Verstappen. However, when the Mercedes driver eventually did pit two laps later, he was shocked to see Verstappen flash back past into the lead of the race when he exited the pit lane.

Hamilton tried to put Verstappen under as much pressure as possible but was unable to get close enough to have a look at the race leader.

With the frontrunning drivers all expressing concerns over whether their hard tyres would last until the end of the race, Red Bull made an aggressive call to bring Verstappen in from the lead to switch to medium tyres for the final 20 laps of the race.

Mercedes chose not to respond to Red Bull’s surprise move and Verstappen began to gradually eat away at Hamilton’s lead out front. Sergio Perez allowed his team mate to pass with little difficulty, while Valtteri Bottas could offer little defence as Verstappen passed him for second place on the run to the Signes corner.

With two laps remaining, Verstappen got within DRS range of his rival as they entered the Mistral straight and was able to breeze past and into the lead. Hamilton could offer no riposte with his old hard tyres and was forced to watch on as Verstappen took the chequered flag to claim his third win of the season.

Perez took third, but appeared to go outside of track limits when passing Valtteri Bottas into Signes in the closing laps. He was investigated by the stewards and cleared.

Lando Norris took fifth place after a strong race for McLaren with team mate Daniel Ricciardo backing him up in sixth. Pierre Gasly fell one place from his starting position to seventh, ahead of Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll, who rounded out the points.

The Ferraris of Sainz and Leclerc faded in the race to 11th and 16th respectively.

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2021 French Grand Prix reaction

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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100 comments on “Verstappen wins enthralling French Grand Prix with late pass on Hamilton”

  1. Max my driver of the day!!! What a race!! Congrats Max.

  2. A great race by RBR team wise. Strategy on point for both drivers. Meanwhile mercedes sacrificed a possible Valterri podium so that Hamilton can be protected for one extra lap.

    1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
      20th June 2021, 15:49

      Silly not to bring Bottas in for the FLAP

      1. @fullcoursecaution It was either to get back at him for his outburst, or felt it was too much to use him as a houseboy against Verstappen after sacrificing his podium as a block.

      2. Pitting him before Verstappen got past him, or really before Perez got past Bottas would be completely useless @balue. Off course they hoped Bottas would be able to hold up Max’ progress for long enough to give Hamilton a fighting chance, that is a no brainer. And nobody gives up a podium for a FLAP.

        I think that if there had not been the investigation and possibility of Perez getting a penalty (i.e. Bottas being able to get that podium back despite getting passed), Mercedes would have surely pitted. But that one point or being able to get a podium makes for a relatively easy choice IMO @fullcoursecaution.

    2. I was worried about the strategies for both Max and Checo, but they were spot on and it made for an absorbing race for once.

    3. I’m not so sure about that. Only because Bottas complained it doesn’t mean he would have been better off with two stops.
      I think the one stopper gave him at least the chance to fight for a podium.
      On two stops in all likelihood he would never have caught Perez and still finished 4th, it would only have spared him the struggling and beeing passed.
      Perez was just to fast for him after delaying his first stop for so long.

      1. Surely splitting the strategy was the right decision for Mercedes here, and it was silly not to bring Bottas in for fastest lap.
        Bottas had pretty good pace today yet the Merc strategists didn’t really do anything with him.

        1. Toto really wants Valtteri to blink first and call it quits from the team to promote his beloved george up in there.

          1. Toto doesn’t need Bottas to blink, Bottas has not performed this season and is loosing points for Merc, the change to George will be on Bottas not performing. Although they may be a little reluctant to change as it would put more pressure on Lewis as #1 at Merc.

    4. You’re sure that was the intention?

    5. @knightameer Yes who would have believed Red Bull would ace Mercedes on strategy? That doesn’t happen all that often.

      Agree with wingman Bottas. Even he realized it and is getting annoyed about it. I detested it with Barrichello and Massa at Ferrari before, but it’s almost more grating now that it’s from a team that espouses ‘values’. Ferrari was upfront about it.

  3. I rate on track action higher than strategic battles, but still this is Paul Ricard. So way above my expectations. Watching Perez build a gap of more than 5 seconds because I was sure he’d get a penalty? He had 5.8 in the end….

    This would be Spain again for Verstappen. Nice to see RBR be confident enough to pull the trigger themselves. They nailed the timing though.. great stuff.

    Also happy Ricciardo indeed seems to have found some more speed. Ferrari is unkind to their tires, big problems on a high deg track … hmm

  4. The battle we were hoping for! Small mistake from Max, but he was dynamite from that point on. Tyre management masterclass from Lewis, almost pulled it off. To say that RB stole the race would be an overstatement, but the Mercs definitely should have won. They are still the benchmark in race trim on conventional tracks.

    1. They are still the benchmark in race trim on conventional tracks.

      I don’t understand this notion. Lewis was unable to build a gap to Max in the first stint and Max was similarly unable to drop Lewis in the second. Where does this idea of the Mercedes being the benchmark come from?

      1. But Lewis did build a gap, Max wasn’t able to attack him at all. The undercut was just massive, nobody expected that, including RB. Perez completely dropped off in the beginning. Valtteri’s early pitstop was forced by vibrations. The overtake by Sergio was most likely a result of the tyre offset. And when Max emerged in front from the pits, the Mercs were all over him, he was the one that was unable to build a gap.

        I may be wrong, I am no rocket scientist, but all the evidence seems to point in that direction. I have no interest in engaging in childish word games (I don’t take your comment as such in any way). I just want to stress that I am interested in a genuine enthusiastic discussion. Could you please provide evidence that I may have missed that points to the contrary?

        1. I agree with your observation. On all conventional circuits, the Mercs seem to follow a RB easier than vice versa.
          Today on the first stint, Max was dropping slowly to 3sec. while Lewis comfortably stayed within DRS for stint2.

          1. @trib4udi While Hamilton could follow Verstappen for a few laps and even had DRS for multiple consecutive laps, he never got close enough to even think about a possible overtake. After that, he lost nearly two seconds in five laps to Verstappen.

            Both Red Bulls set faster laps than both Mercedes. Both Red Bulls overtook their respective rivals on-track. Both Red Bulls were faster in the speed trap. I’m really struggling to see how the Red Bull wasn’t clearly the faster car in France.

          2. @scbriml Lewis had to drop off to cool his tyres after a prolonged attack. I think the key factor in Lewis’ inability to overtake was the fact the RBs were faster in a straight line thanks to their low-downforce setup.

            The RB overtakes were a result of tyre differences, not the outright pace of the car. There were two occasions in the race where you could effectively judge the pace of the cars because they were on similar tyres. After the start and after the first set of pitstops. The Mercs looked slightly faster overall on both occasions.

        2. Lewis was all over Max for a few laps – yes. But by the time Max pitted again, the pressure had well eased off. If the Merc was still the benchmark as you say, I’d have expected Lewis to pass Max with DRS. Bottom line for me is – they are close to being pretty evenly matched but the Red Bull has the edge.

          1. Yes, because the tyres start overheating when you attack like this for a few laps, Lewis had no choice but to back off. You need to be faster to catch up but you need to be a lot faster to overtake, they are two very different things. Especially at this circuit. This is not a valid argument. As you rightly pointed out, we are talking about very very small margins, but the Merc is simply the faster car in race trim (again, we are talking conventional tracks, not Monaco). Toto himself said so after the race btw, and he always downplays his team’s chances.

      2. Well, for starters… starting with the fact that they won pretty much everything since 2014?!?!

    2. To say that RB stole the race would be an overstatement, but the Mercs definitely should have won. They are still the benchmark in race trim on conventional tracks.

      Really?
      So the benchmark is beaten on strategy, racecraft and teamspirit.
      A great battle between two of the best drivers and you come with this statement..
      er

      1. @erikje The benchmark comment was pointed strictly at the pace of the car, not the whole team. That’s why I think they should have won in that they didn’t maximize the result. I think we agree on that. Please see the answer I gave to Emma as well.

        Do people genuinely feel that the Red Bull was the faster car today? Why, based on what? I mean that in a nice way!

        1. Rodric Ewulf
          20th June 2021, 18:50

          Max efforts and Red Bull strategy won the race today, and in many potential scenarios it would be Lewis/Mercedes winning. Very fine margins indeed, but that is what allowed Max/Red Bull reach the victory. Mercedes tyre strategy wasn’t optimal and it should be clear for everyone to see, and had Bottas held on a little bit longer it could easily be a different story, as well as had they pitted Hamilton earlier to avoid the undercut (Verstappen would never get past him this way) as it’s straight forward to see him building a reasonable gap on that scenario and it would be a lot easier to cover any further undercut attempts, the surprise of this race given how powerful for strategy it was. On the other way around it’s difficult to imagine a better scenario for Red Bull, they did almost everything right and their specially their strategy worked wonders, Pérez vs. Bottas included. That all seems a bunch of strong evidences on a slim edge remaining in favour of Mercedes on race pace.

    3. +1, all the stats (At least all the stats that I saw on TV through practice, Quali and the race) point to Merc having a slight advantage in race trim. This victory is down to the RB Team and Drivers making the most of what they had.

      Reply moderated
  5. This was hard to take as a Mercedes fan. I can’t fault Verstappen for that performance. Almost similar to Leclerc in Monza 2019 but without lock ups or off track excursions. Leclerc’s 2019 Italy Gp performance was the best I have ever seen under immense pressure since 2010. This one by Max is even better.

    Mercedes get yourselves a vacation a bit, maybe there is too much stress in the team.

    1. Not gonna be able to get a vacation for another couple weeks and I expect Red Bull to be strong in Austria.

    2. Not gonna be able to get a vacation for another couple weeks and I expect Red Bull to be strong in Austria/Styria.

    3. AntonioCorleone
      20th June 2021, 19:17

      You are the first person that I’ve seen to notice “that” Leclerc drive in Monza 2019. He was under immense pressure all race long. I can’t think of another driver who would have kept the possition till the end for a victory after being under such pressure and stress the whole time.

    4. @krichelle I’d put Hamilton in Bahrain 2014 above Leclerc’s drive.

      1. You have to be joking that I forgot Lewis in Bahrain 2014.

  6. What actually happened with Merc having a free stop for Bottas to take fastest lap?

    Either they thought it was too risky?

    Or did bottas refuse the pit because he was so annoyed?

    1. @mach1 – Perez was under investigation for going off the track when he overtook Bottas so they kept him out to see what happened. They announced “no further action ” just as Verstappen was crossing the line so too late to react.

      1. @petebaldwin Perez never went off track, so the whole investigation graphic came out of the blue.

        1. @jerejj – He did I think. I only saw it once during the race but it looked to me like he’d gone all 4 wheels past the line but he’d already got the move done. I was worried there would be an investigation before the graphic came up.

          1. @petebaldwin He definitely stayed on track at Signes (the relevant corner mentioned in the Stewards’ conclusion). Otherwise, I’m sure I would’ve noticed as they were on the world feed footage at that moment.

        2. @jerejj Then why did the stewards investigate it?

          From an alternative F1 site:
          The Stewards determined that Perez had fully completed the pass on Bottas by the time he left the track at Turn 10,” the stewards noted in their explanation. “This made the fact that he left the track subsequently as a standard ‘track limits’ question.

          “The Stewards determined that Perez lost sufficient ground in the following turn that he could not be deemed to have ‘gained a lasting advantage’.

        3. @jerejj

          Yeah, ridiculous. They even investigated VER’s off-track excursion from the 1st lap, when he lost the lead!

          1. @mg1982 No investigation for the lap one excursion. Nothing came up on the screen afterward.

      2. When did Perez go off track?? sounds like Merc crying to the FIA.

        1. That was during the French GP we all saw today. Where were you?

        2. He did go off track, just after he overtook Bottas. The stewards investigated and cleared him.

  7. Never noticed it much until a few years back but now seems to be absolutely standard: backmarkers have a huge effect on drivers trying to reel in others. It ebbed and flowed by over two seconds at times depending on where to pass. Seems a bit of a random factor to me

    1. The unfortunate reality of being in dirty air, even of a slower car that is going to make it easy to get by. Until you get to that point of passing the backmarker you’re in dirty air for at least a bit of time. I was cognizant of it the whole time Max was reeling LH in. I feared that dirty air would harm Max’s tires too much to mount an attack at the end. But of course LH had to experience the same on his much older tires. Still thought Max might run out of time though. What a thriller.

    2. Tommy Scragend
      20th June 2021, 17:55

      Before the modern blue flag rule which requires cars being lapped to just get out of the way, backmarkers were always a factor. It was part of a driver’s skillset to be able to lap slower cars.

    3. @hahostolze It usually favors the leaders too much, but this time was an exception and it was fair. The gap didn’t really jump. Verstappen even commented how they were good the backmarkers were this time.

  8. The Alpine is still way too slow in the straight, but Alonso did a great job. It took him four or five races to get on top of it, but now he is definitely showing Ocon the way.

  9. Kudos to Honda. From “GP2 engine” to keeping mighty Mercedes behind with long DRS sections. Impressive.

    1. Cristiano Ferreira
      20th June 2021, 16:08

      Seems like every time Honda is leaving the sport they win haha.

      1. Cristiano Ferreira,
        They have a history of abandoning successful projects.

    2. To be fair, Red Bull was running a very thin rear wing. Perhaps that made the new Honda look a bit better than it is. In hindsight, I think Red Bull could have gone with a bigger wing on the rear.

    3. Yes, amazing work.

    4. @svianna Indeed. Well done to them.

  10. Miltiadis (@miltosgreekfan)
    20th June 2021, 16:06

    A great strategic race today. The score between Mercedes and Red Bull (when it comes to a 2 stopper) is 2-1(Hungary 19/Spain 21 vs France 21). Mercedes need to sort out Bottas strategy, today he had strong pace but eventually he took the minimum for himself and the team.

    Ferrari’s pace was shocking, they had tremendous issues on race trim… On the other hand, McLaren were clearly best of the rest, despite a strong race by Gasly.

    Alpine’s early pace was quite weird, they seemed not to have any straight line speed whatsoever.

  11. NeverElectric
    20th June 2021, 16:06

    Bbbutt Hamilton has the faster car….!

    1. Cristiano Ferreira
      20th June 2021, 16:09

      And is the “GOAT”

      :(

      The only Goat that is know is the game Goat Simulator.

      1. Cristiano Ferreira
        20th June 2021, 16:13

        The only goat that i know

        Sorry for the misspeling

    2. To be fair Lewis and Bottas were keeping up with Max before the first pit stops. Today’s race was won on strategy not outright pace.

      1. You still need to have a driver to make the strategy work.

        Lewis did tremendous in Hungary 2019. Max equally impressive today.
        Don’t think too many others on the gird would have achieved the same result in both situations.

    3. & this is what happens when hamilton not has a dominant car.

    4. Well, I think he had the faster car, especially on high fuel. The Red Bull seemed to struggle much more with the wind. On a similar strategy, I think the Mercedes would have won. Just like the Red Bull would have won Hungary 2019, when Red Bull had the faster car.

      The fact that both Hamilton and Bottas could pressure Verstappen so much in the 2nd stint, while Verstappen struggeled to keep up with Lewis in the first stint, tells me the Merc had the faster car.

      1. I agree. Very small pace advantage for Merc (who could put heavy pressure on Verstappen at the start of the second stint when Verstappen could only sit a few seconds back in the first stint).

        But they lack confidence in strategy. First stops were timed strangely (Bottas almost jumped Hamilton as well), and then they committed to an extremely long second stint instead of mirroring Verstappen’s second stop (or at least splitting the strategy).

        Lewis did a fantastic job of stretching those tyres and and very nearly made it work. But Mercedes fundamentally had the pace to win without running a risky strategy.

        RB in contrast had confidence in stopping Max twice and put Sergio on the optimum stint lengths and were rewarded with a double podium.

        1. Just wanted to add that I think they lack confidence because they are unaccustomed to actually racing anyone. Too much sandbagging in the hybrid era.

  12. I’m still baffled at how much Ferrari, especially Leclerc, struggled on the hard.

  13. Excellent and measured race from Red Bull…. Early corner 2 error from Max, but, nicely recovered from. Ultimately RBR pulled a Mercedes like strategy on Mercedes and won.

  14. This was a redbull win more than a driver win to be honest in my opinion. Well down to red bull. Mercedes need to come back to this year if they want to win it. Im assuming they are abit too focussed on next year. Redbulls straight-line speed is very good.

    1. So you mean who is at the wheel of the RB does not matter?

      1. It does matter a lot but the team built a great car and the strategists recovered Max’s only misstep. He make three strategy work 100% to find Valteri and Lewis easy targets. BUT he certainly had to catch them in time and good shape. So great work from the whole RB team, of which Max and Checco are part of. Stellar performance from that team, unlike from the Mercedes team. Also you can sense better harmony in RB than Merc. Changing times.

      2. @petterson Of course it matters. But plenty of people say “It’s the car” whenever Hamilton wins, but strangely “It’s the driver” whenever Verstappen wins. Oddly inconsistent, but the Red Bull seemed to be clearly quicker all weekend in France.

        1. Define “clearly” in this case.

    2. Yes it was a Red Bull win. Mercedes had slight edge on pace, but the undercut and 2 stop sorted it.

      1. @balue On what basis do you think Mercedes had the edge on pace?

        Red Bull comfortably on pole.
        Both Red Bulls set faster laps than both Mercedes.
        Both Red Bulls overtook their respective rival on-track.
        Both Red Bulls were faster in the speed trap.
        Red Bull finished P1 & P3 vs P2 & P4.

        If one team had a slight edge, it would seem to be Red Bull.

        1. @scbriml Mercedes could shake Red Bull in the first stint, and easily stay on the gearbox for the second until their tyres got damaged by it.

  15. This had the feel of a reverse-Spanish-GP at the front. Vowles and Merc strategy failed to exploit their 2–1 car advantage on VER. Almost seemed like they feared BOT undercutting HAM more than they did losing the race. Must feel like sweet revenge for Red Bull!

    VER’s mighty push lap to retake the lead was key to the victory. Richly deserved! The rate at which his mediums fell away in the final stint was scary. I feared the worst, especially knowing Red Bull had opted for a lower downforce setup. There was also always a seed of doubt, planted by the fact that HAM’s tyre management is phenomenal, second only to PER on the current grid. I reckon W12 was at least as quick as RB16B in race trim, but that VER made the difference.

    By winning on merit at what should be a “Merc circuit“, Red Bull have now shown they can beat Merc at any circuit on a normal GP weekend.

    Merc have never really been in a hole this deep in terms of having to develop their way back to the top and they find themselves chasing the masters of in-season car development. Cracks are appearing in the team on and off the track (cf. BOT’s very rare outburst on team radio). HAM might soon find himself racing PER for P2 as VER pulls away. Best thing for Merc today was that HAM did not commit another costly error.

    Solid advantage Red Bull and VER!

    Loved this cheeky response from VER to a question in a post-race interview: “He can have the experience, I’m the faster one!”

    1. “Almost seemed like they feared BOT undercutting HAM more than they did losing the race.”

      I felt the same, when watching the race.
      Bottas winning the race with Lewis and Max completing the podium (in whatever order) wasn’t a scenario Merc really wanted, it seemed.

      1. But Bot was actually given the undercut opportunity at the first stops which actually harmed Lewis’s race. If you’re talking about a potential second pitstop, I’m sure Mercedes would have brought in Lewis first this time round. So I don’t understand what you’re talking about.

    2. “ By winning on merit at what should be a “Merc circuit“, Red Bull have now shown they can beat Merc at any circuit on a normal GP weekend.”

      And the other way around…giving us a thrilling race on a usually boring track. Hope this continues until race 23

  16. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
    20th June 2021, 16:41

    Expecting the usual “we’ll come back stronger” talk from Merc. I’ve been hearing it for 4 weeks and I’m yet to see any strides being taken towards the titles.
    I think the triumvirate of cost cap, 2021 floor changes, and 2022 regulations have put them in a fix. Add to that the ban on engine modes and DAS; it has all had a snowball effect on the W12. I do not mean to discredit RB and Honda.
    Lewis may still end up being WDC, but the WCC is looking like RB’s to lose now.

    1. Losing the WCC will also be Mercedes fault as they had an option to get Russell in that seat but persisted with Bottas even though it was clear to everyone he’s not good enough. He really should have been able to buy Lewis a few more seconds today by holding up Verstappen but he showed his lack of race craft yet again.

  17. My friends, the Hamilton era is ending as we speak.
    Welcome new King: Max.

    Reply moderated
  18. RedBull pulled a Mercedes early tyre change chase on Mercedes. I am surprised the Mercedes strategists didn’t see that coming and pull the trick first.

    Bottas seems to be increasingly fragile with all he swearing at the team about another stop. The same considerations applied to Hamilton who nearly pulled off a win, while Bottas seemed to have no weapons to hold Verstappen behind him making one big and several smaller errors in the fight with the two RedBulls.

    1. It was really soon in the stint, I believe he did only 13 laps on the hard tyre. Mercedes was probably thinking about the same thing, but Red Bull just gambled earlier.

      The biggest mistake they made was not using Bottas to copy Verstappen’s strategy. He clearly had a good enough pace to put Max under pressure, or at least clear Perez. But they kept him out to block Verstappen and keep him away from Lewis, which obviously failed.

      1. @montalvo
        +1
        I agree, and honestly can anyone remember the last time Mercedes split their strategies and gave Bottas the one that turned out to be correct?

        1. can anyone remember the last time Mercedes split their strategies and gave Bottas the one that turned out to be correct?

          It’s worthwhile to see this as more than a rhetorical question.

          Certainly one I cannot answer.

  19. Very nice GP, I really liked the strategy gambling. I think that today Redbull gave a masterclass to Mercedes when it is 2 v 2. In such situation, if you have two cars, why put them in the same strategy?. Risky decision, but I think they were too greedy trying to get the 1-2. It was not critically needed at this year stage. After Verstappen mistake, they only needed that Hamilton covered Verstappen and Bottas covered Perez and that’s all. They would have won more championship points than Redbull and Hamilton would lead the driver standings. They would have put pressure to Redbull and probably we would be talking about how Perez was out-qualified by a 0.5s margin and how his qualy performance is no better than what Gasly or Albon did years ago and how much Redbull needs him to put the car ahead of Bottas’s car. But instead of this hypothetical scenario, they did not secured Hamilton 1st place (Perez was too far away to be a worrisome at this GP stage). Then the unexpected happened and Verstappen undercut Hamilton, leaving Mercedes with no options. Basically, Mercedes plan went out of control due to a miscalculation, but for both cars!. For me that was their bigger mistake. Mercedes too afraid of Perez strategy and how hard it would have been to pass him on track. So, after the undercut, they were just waiting for Redbull’s strategy decision to then do the opposite (and crossing their fingers). No more options than that. At the end Bottas was just closely following other cars, all GP, so he was unable to preserve his tyres optimally and do his job. On the other hand, I think that Redbull just tried to maximize their result without focusing too much about wining the GP after Verstappen 1st lap error. More strategic freedom gave Verstappen his victory, so the “gambling” worked.

    The momentum is on Redbull, but I think this GP will be a wake up call for Mercedes. For me, they need to win one Austria GP at least.

    1. Great summary and insights!

    2. The bit missing possibly is that any strategy that required passing Perez on track was no good. RBR was so fast on the back straight Hamilton could barely make up ground from even .7s back on verstappen with drs open. There was no exchange of queens on the board for them. It was 2v1 but Perez still extended useful influence.

  20. Same as in Baku, Lewis didn’t deliver on his in lap to the pit.
    In Baku it cost him 2 places and here in France only 1 place, this despite Mercedes doing a quicker pitstop.

    Mercedes clearly had the faster car, even were gifted the lead when Max ran wide but Hamilton and team strategist messed it up allowing Max to steal the win back.
    Also running wide and going over those curbs didn’t help either.
    Bottas is not worthy of any comments

    Perez drove a brilliant race, initially folks were saying too slow but Perez always plays the long game, keeping tyres alive longer and got a well deserved podium.

  21. Well done Max. A thoroughly deserved win. Great fight with Lewis for the win. Lewis did what he could today but Max and RB were a little faster. Thought he may pull off the impossible but alas… Max drove very well. Congratulations. On to the next next one!

  22. I don’t know if there are other comments with the same but I just want to say that this was a great race. And not just because we had fight for the win going close to the end, but so many great battles behind too. McLaren going up, Gladly Vs the Ferraris, the Astons also going up, Alonso closing in at the end too and even if we were watching Max VS Lewis, I had my eyes looking to the gaps and the TV director was smart to show all 3 guys finishing close (Gasly and Alonso within DRS range).
    Even Mazepin made a good move on his teammate!

    Of course, the race felt so great because Paul Ricard offers low expectations so it changes your opinion when you think the race will be kinda boring…

    But to make it even greater, I attended the Virtual Paddock Club (yesterday and today) and it was very, very, cool!

  23. Making a comparison of being which team had the faster race car is moot without considering the gap required to complete an overtake on a particular track. Good drivers I believe can eek out more from the car and both Hamilton and Verstappen fall into that category. The fact that Lewis was not able to pass Max in the faster car during the beginning of the 2nd stint tells me that Lewis was having less adequate pace than the delta required to make the pass (even factoring in that a great driver like him is bringing in some extra valuable tenths).

    Max was already fast but he is maturing so fabulously that it is a pleasure to watch. Great race craft. His turn one error was a mistake though just like Hamilton’s inlap pace when Max undercut him (I think Lewis could have done a better job there although those tires were pretty shot).

    Enjoying the battle but would love to see some great battles that involve the two cars going at it like Rosberg and Hamilton in Bahrain 2014. Its a long season though, so fingers crossed!

    1. RBR was the fastest car in the speed traps this weekend and Hamilton was mid pack by that measure. So even with more pace he could not pass. He could barely close even with drs. Mercedes were maybe hoping that skinny wing would hurt verstappen at the end of the stints but verstappen made his stints shorter. They played it well.

  24. The fact that Merc didn’t pit Bottas for FLAP as soon as Perez got past, seems to suggest he will be replaced in the next couple of weeks, that relationship has deteriorated badly.

    Mercedes just giving Max extra points now.

    1. Toto said after the race that they wanted Bottas to try to stay within 5 seconds of Perez as they believed there could have been a penalty for Perez passing with all 4 wheels off the circuit, hence not going for the bonus point

    2. To me Bottas swearing at the team was the bigger indication the relationship is over

  25. ,While folks gush over the fantastic race, I lament the state of the sport and how clinical it has become such as computer sims dictating strategy and a world champion who puts up no defence for the lead of a race. Villeneuve, Senna, etc are spinning in their graves! How mighty F1 has fallen.

    1. But the strategy was very human in that it messed up big time. Even Joe at home could see that Hamilton should have been pitted right after Bottas, and Red Bull’s 2 stop was a massive gamble that was just lucky to work frankly.

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