2021 Formula 1 French Grand Prix saw Red Bull taking their third consecutive win of the season with a cracking victory of Max Verstappen, who passed Lewis Hamilton with two laps to go to claim the thirteenth victory of his career, Hamilton finishing second as the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez completed the podium.
In a mirror of the Spanish Grand Prix – when Mercedes out-strategised Red Bull to claim the victory – Verstappen stopped twice to Hamilton’s one-stop, with the Dutchman then using his fresher tyres to close up to the Mercedes, passing on Lap 52 of 53 to check out for his third win of the year.
It more than made up for Verstappen losing out to Hamilton from pole at the race start, Verstappen taking the win as well as the extra point for fastest lap – with the result also marks the first time Red Bull have won three races on the bounce in the turbo-hybrid era.
Behind, Valtteri Bottas ended up a disgruntled fourth behind Perez, having complained to Mercedes that he was ignored when he advised them to switch to a two-stop, as Red Bull did with Verstappen.
Behind the leading four, a superb day for McLaren saw Lando Norris finish a fine fifth, ahead of teammate Daniel Ricciardo, who enjoyed arguably his best race of the year to take sixth.
AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly demonstrated a strong race pace to take his best-ever finish in his home Grand Prix with P7, ahead of the Alpine of Fernando Alonso.
Sebastian Vettel made a long first stint work to take his third consecutive points to finish with ninth, while teammate Lance Stroll completed the top 10 thanks to a late pass on the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz – capping off a bad day for the Scuderia, who lacked race pace at Paul Ricard, with Sainz ending up 11th as Leclerc could do no better than P16.
But after a thriller of a French Grand Prix, it was all about Verstappen, who took a decisive strike at the start of the first triple-header of what’s turning into a phenomenal 2021 season, extending his lead over Hamilton in the drivers’ standings to 12 points.
Mario Isola – Head of F1 and car racing at Pirelli commented:
This race turned into an intense and exciting strategic battle, with a number of unknown factors such as cooler track temperatures, rain this morning that reset the track, and wind that continued to catch a few drivers out, all playing a part. These aspects contributed as well to increased front-left graining, which was key today. As a result, although a one-stopper was expected, there was also the possibility of a two-stopper, which Red Bull and Max Verstappen went for decisively.
The margins were very finely balanced, as everyone could see, between a two-stopper and a one-stopper, and it took a lot of commitment to make either strategy work. Congratulations to Max Verstappen and Red Bull for a strategic masterclass today, which kept everyone guessing right up to the final lap.
2021 Formula 1 French GP Race Results
|1.||33||Max Verstappen||Netherlands||Red Bull Racing||1:27:25.770||26||131|
|2.||44||Lewis Hamilton||Great Britain||Mercedes-AMG Petronas||+2.904s||18||119|
|3.||11||Sergio Perez||Mexico||Red Bull Racing Honda||+8.811s||15||84|
|4.||77||Valtteri Bottas||Finland||Mercedes-AMG Petronas||+14.618s||12||59|
|5.||4||Lando Norris||Great Britain||Mclaren Racing||+64.032s||10||76|
|6.||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Australia||McLaren Racing||+75.857s||8||34|
|7.||10||Pierre Gasly||France||Scuderia AlphaTauri||+76.596s||6||37|
|8.||14||Fernando Alonso||Spain||Alpine F1 Team||+77.695s||4||17|
|9.||5||Sebastian Vettel||Germany||Aston Martin F1 Team||+79.666s||2||30|
|10.||18||Lance Stroll||Canada||Aston Martin F1 Team||+91.946s||0||10|
|11.||55||Carlos Sainz||Spain||Scuderia Ferrari||+99.337s||0||42|
|12.||63||George Russell||Great Britain||Williams Racing||+1 lap||0||0|
|13.||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Japan||Scuderia AlphaTauri||+1 lap||0||8|
|14.||31||Esteban Ocon||France||Alpine F1 Team||+1 lap||0||12|
|15.||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Italy||Alfa Romeo F1 Team||+1 lap||0||1|
|16.||16||Charles Leclerc||Monaco||Scuderia Ferrari||+1 lap||0||52|
|17.||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Finland||Alfa Romeo F1 Team||+1 lap||0||1|
|18.||6||Nicholas Latifi||Canada||Williams Racing||+1 lap||0||0|
|19.||47||Mick Schumacher||Germany||Haas F1 Team||+1 lap||0||0|
|20.||9||Nikita Mazepin||Russia||Haas F1 Team||+1 lap||0||0|