Max Verstappen claimed victory at the French Grand Prix, extending his lead in the Formula 1 Drivers’ title race on Sunday over Lewis Hamilton. The 23-year old hunted down the Mercedes and overtook the world champion with more than a lap to go at a windy Le Castellet. This allowed him to claim his third victory from seven races in the 2021 season.
The Red Bull driver sat down for an interview with BettingPro reporters and stated that he enjoyed the race towards the end. However, in the beginning, he found it extremely difficult in gusty conditions. This is a truly significant achievement by the reviving Red Bull team and their Dutch driver who won their third consecutive race after winning at Monaco and Baku.
The recent win pushes Max Verstappen 12 points ahead of Lewis Hamilton in the Driver’s title race. The 23-year-old will look for more winning opportunities when he makes his way to Austria for back-to-back races on Red Bull turf. The other Red Bull driver, Sergio Perez, finished in third position, while Valtteri Bottas finished in fourth position.
A Deeper Look at the French Grand Prix
Before the start of the race, the Red Bull team principal, Christian Horner, stated that if they can beat Mercedes at the French Grand Prix, they can beat them anywhere in the world. Mercedes were searching for a way to get back on track at Circuit Paul Ricard after losing in both the Monaco Grand Prix and the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
However, things got off to a troublesome start for Max Verstappen in pole position. When the race got underway, he went off the track out of turn one, creating a horror start for himself and his Red Bull team. Lewis Hamilton was more than happy to take advantage of the unexpected gift and took the lead straight away. Max Verstappen complained that he couldn’t keep control of his car but managed to settle in second position after giving up pole position.
Lewis Hamilton was in the lead for 105 laps out of 106 and things looked quite promising for the British racing driver to extend his lead at the Provencal track who claimed victory in 2018 and 2019. Towards the end of the 53-lap race, Lewis Hamilton was nearly three seconds ahead of Max Verstappen, with Perez and Bottas in pursuit.
A Change of Tyres Made all the Difference
Most of the drivers started complaining about tire wear and Charles Leclerc was the first driver to arrive at the pits to change the tires on his Ferrari. Max Verstappen wasn’t too far behind, while Lewis Hamilton came into the pits on lap 20 for a slick stop. He came out of the pits as Max Verstappen flashed past him with Sergio Perez in the lead, still to pit.
The Mexican, who claimed victory at Baku in 2020, was called into the pits on lap 25, leaving Max Verstappen in the lead with the British champion half a second behind him. The Dutch driver informed his team over the radio that he wasn’t able to keep this up with the same tires. This all occurred on lap 29. This caused the Red Bull driver to come into the pits on lap 32 where he resumed the race in fourth position.
He was 25 seconds behind Hamilton. However, thanks to better grip, he managed to close the gap to only 7 seconds on lap 40. With only 9 laps to go, Verstappen raced past Bottas and further reduced the gap to just 5 seconds. Verstappen hunted own his prey on the last couple of laps and provided an epic end on the penultimate lap, triggering wild celebrations for him and his Red Bull team. The Dutch driver is well-aware of the fact that the rest of the reason will be a duel with Hamilton and he is prepared for the fight going forward.