By Robert Haile
After taking pole position yesterday Red Bull’s Max Verstappen followed it up with a late win around the Paul Ricard Circuit in todays, June 20, French Grand Prix.
Championship leader Verstappen said: “Winning this race was an amazing Team effort and to have a double podium at a track like this really shows the hard work everyone is putting in here and in Milton Keynes at our factory and Honda’s. Of course I would have liked to pull off into the distance and cruise ahead on my own but it doesn’t often work like that in Formula One and we really had to work for it today.
“You can see how close the two teams are and to win like this on strategy with two laps to go is very rewarding. It was certainly not an easy race and I got caught out at Turn 1 and lost the rear which meant I had to go off the track and lost a position to Lewis. I was of course upset at the time but I knew there was a long race ahead and I had to focus. In the first stint I didn’t really have the pace to fight with Lewis so we took the risk to pit first and to be honest I didn’t expect the undercut to work so well that I would come out ahead.
“They were pushing hard to try and pass me but luckily I could just about stay ahead and I knew I couldn’t make any mistakes. We decided to go for the two stop strategy which worked out well as our car suited the conditions towards the end of the race as the wind became a little less and the track rubbered in. In the end we made the right calls for both cars and it is great to be on the podium with Checo. We should all enjoy this for a few days until we get to Austria and start again.”
The only change to the starting grid was Yuki Tsunoda for AlphaTauri started from the pit lane after the team changed the gearbox in the car after his crash in qualifying.
At the start of the race it didn’t go as planned for Verstappen as he went off the track at turn two to give the lead to Lewis Hamilton.
Verstappen pitted first with Hamilton pitting a lap later but the Red Bull driver took the lead as Mercedes driver came out of the pit lane.
Hamilton regained the lead when Verstappen pitted on lap thirty three to set up a tight finish.
With ten laps left Verstappen had caught Valtteri Bottas in second with five seconds to Hamilton in first, Mercedes were hoping that Bottas could hold Verstappen up but ran wide letting him through.
On the penultimate lap the championship leader caught the defending champion and managed to overtake him with just over half the lap gone to go on and win the race to collect the maximum twenty five points and one extra for the fastest lap of the race.
Red Bull completed the 1-3 when Perez passed Bottas with the Mercedes driver finishing well ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris fifth.
McLaren finished in sixth with Daniel Ricciardo ahead of Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri and Fernando Alonso eighth for Alpine in their home Grand Prix.
Sebastian Vettel beat Lance Stroll to nineth as both Aston Martin drivers finished in the points.
Carlos Sainz finished outsides the points in eleventh in a disappointing race for Ferrari, George Russell was the highest placed Williams in twelfth.
Tsunoda after starting from the pit lane finished thirteenth followed by Alpine’s Esteban Ocon, Antonio Giovinazzi for Alfa Romeo and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Räikkönen and Williams Nicholas Latifi finished in front of Haas’s Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin.
Defending champion Hamilton said: “Congratulations to Max, he did a great job today. The Red Bulls had better straight line speed all weekend but considering that we had such a difficult Friday, I’m really happy with this result. Of course, we didn’t win and we had the lead but I had no tyres left at the end so unfortunately we lost the position, but it was still a good race. We’ve got to find some pace, that’s for sure.
“Most of the time we lost today was on the straights, so we’ve got to dig deep, try and figure out where that is, and whether it’s power or drag but overall, we’ve still got a good package. We didn’t know how strong the undercut was going to be but what was really surprising was just how we ran out of that front tyre so early on but obviously they had a good strategy and it worked really well for them.”
Third placed Sergio ‘Checo’ Perez said: “The Team did a fantastic job today with great strategy and making the right calls at the right time so well done to everyone here and back at the factory. It’s a great result for them which is what really counts and so I’m happy with that. On my side, this weekend wasn’t as good as I hoped it would be, as drivers we only want to win so I just have to keep working hard, continue improving and getting better results with the great car that I’ve been given.
“Back to back podiums is still solid points but I just needed probably three more laps to get past Lewis for the 1-2 finish, so we’ll keep pushing to get it at our home race in Austria. I think it will be very good for me to have two races back to back in Spielberg as the first race will give me much more of an understanding of how the car performs around there and as a result a better baseline for race two. Hopefully we can be in contention for the win and continue this momentum.”
Formula 1 will now head to Austria for the next two races around the Red Bull Ring on the 25-27 June and 2-4 July before the British Grand Prix.
- Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 131
- Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 119
- Sergio Perez (Red Bull) – 84
- Lando Norris (McLaren) – 76
- Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) – 59
- Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) – 52
- Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) – 42
- Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) – 37
- Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) – 34
- Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) – 30
- Fernando Alonso (Alpine) – 17
- Esteban Ocon (Alpine) – 12
- Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) – 10
- Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) – 8
- Kimi Räikkönen (Alfa Romeo) – 1
- Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo) – 1
- Mick Schumacher (Haas) – 0
- George Russel (Williams) – 0
- Nikita Mazepin (Haas) – 0
- Nicholas Latifi (Williams) – 0
- Red Bull – 215
- Mercedes – 178
- McLaren – 110
- Ferrari – 94
- AlphaTauri – 45
- Aston Martin – 40
- Alpine – 29
- Alfa Romeo – 2
- Haas – 0
- Williams – 0