Published on June 20, 2021
By Max Levene

Max Verstappen caught Lewis Hamilton with 1 lap to go to secure a tense win at the French Grand Prix and increase his championship lead.

In a race defined by differing strategies, Red Bull made a risky additional pit stop. This initially handed the lead to the two Mercedes, only to claw their way back on the final laps with the two silver arrows struggling for tyre grip.

After a  Verstappen mistake initially handed the lead to Hamilton on corner two of the opening lap, Mercedes were left aghast as they left Lewis out for one too many laps during the first stint. This allowed Verstappen to get back past utilising an undercut that was much bigger then expected. Hamilton was left out for two laps longer then Bottas, and one longer then Verstappen. Had he pitted one lap earlier he would have maintained the lead and put Mercedes in the strategy driving seat.

The two Mercedes hounded the back of the Dutchman but could not get past. It looked like Mercedes would have to try the undercut back, but Red Bull pulled the trigger first and pitted again. This forced Mercedes into believing an alternative strategy was their only way to win, sticking with the one stop strategy that ultimately fell one lap short.

Bottas was left fuming by his teams strategy. He had earlier in the race told his engineer a one stop strategy wouldn’t work, and was correct as he was overtaken by both Red Bulls and missed out on the podium. Sergio Perez played a fantastic role for Red Bull, extending his first stint that added extra complications to the Mercedes strategy team.

Outside of the top four Norris had a strong race to end 5th despite dropping out of the top 10 over the first few laps. He showed he can overtake, passing multiple cars on his way to pick up best of the rest. 

He finished one spot in front of his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, underlining his ability against the talented Australian. Ricciardo was followed by Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly, Alpine’s Fernando Alonso and the Aston Martins of Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll.

It was a disappointing day for Ferrari who after running fifth and seventh after the opening lap, slowly faded on race pace to finish outside the points.

It all leaves Verstappen with a 12 point lead in the championship, and means Red Bull take their first hat-trick of wins in the Hybrid era. The next two races are both in Austria and the Red Bull home track, so they will be pushing to keep up this momentum.

Full Race Result:

  1. Verstappen
  2. Hamilton
  3. Perez
  4. Bottas
  5. Norris
  6. Ricciardo
  7. Gasly
  8. Alonso
  9. Vettel
  10. Stroll
  11. Sainz
  12. Russell
  13. Tsunoda
  14. Ocon
  15. Giovinazzi
  16. Leclerc
  17. Raikkonen
  18. Latifi
  19. Schumacher
  20. Mazepin

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