• Tuesday, Sep 27, 2022
  • Last Update : 10:24 am

Verstappen on a roll after French win

  • Published at 09:19 am June 21st, 2021
Red Bull's Max Verstappen leads Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton during the French GP Sunday Reuters

The victory from pole was the third in a row for Red Bull after wins on the streets of Monaco and Baku

Formula One leader Max Verstappen passed Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton on the penultimate lap to win a tense French Grand Prix for Red Bull Sunday and canter 12 points clear at the top.

The victory from pole position at Le Castellet was the third in a row for Red Bull, picking up speed as they bid to end seven years of Mercedes domination, after wins on the streets of Monaco and Baku.

Verstappen's Mexican team mate Sergio Perez, winner in Azerbaijan after the Dutch driver suffered a high-speed blowout while leading, finished third after passing Valtteri Bottas' Mercedes in the closing laps.

Hamilton led from the second corner as Verstappen drifted wide, caught out by a tailwind on a gusty afternoon, but the race was ultimately decided by strategy and tyre wear.

The Dutch youngster made two pitstops to Hamilton's one and the 23-year-old used his fresher tyres to hunt down his British rival and win by 2.904s.

Verstappen now has 13 career wins.

Mercedes had made the first move on the pitstops, with Bottas coming in and Verstappen reacting before Hamilton pitted another lap later.

Hamilton had been told it was "hammer time", and his stop appeared quickest, but when he rejoined the track it was just behind a rival who had found what he needed.

Verstappen then pitted again from the lead on lap 32. 

Set a target of 18 seconds to make up in 19 laps, he did what was asked.

Now level with Hamilton on three wins for the season, he also took a bonus point for fastest lap and now has 131 to his rival's 119.

Red Bull pulled further ahead of champions Mercedes in the constructors' standings with a lead of 37 points.

The podium was the first time Verstappen and Perez, who joined Red Bull this season, had appeared together in the top three as team mates.

It was also the first time Mercedes had been beaten at Le Castellet since the southern circuit returned to the calendar in 2018.

Until this weekend Mercedes had led every practice session, and swept the front row in qualifying, with Hamilton winning from pole in 2018 and 2019.

In a race of no retirements, and with Ferrari out of the points, McLaren retook third place overall with Britain's Lando Norris fifth and Australian Daniel Ricciardo sixth.

Pierre Gasly was seventh for AlphaTauri, ahead of double world champion Fernando Alonso for Alpine and Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel.

Canadian Lance Stroll took the final point for Aston Martin in 10th place.

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