F1 2020: Verstappen wins French GP as Red Bull out-class Mercedes on strategy

Red Bull out-raced Mercedes on strategy with bold tyre strategy to claim a double podium with Verstappen wining the French Grand Prix. Hamilton had to settle for second with Perez claiming third.

By:Updated: Jun 20, 2021 9:16 PM

Max Verstappen has given Red Bull their first hat-trick of victories in the turbo-hybrid era. With a bold 2-stop tyre strategy by Red Bull, Verstappen won the 2021 French Grand Prix with a stellar drive. Lewis Hamilton finished second for Mercedes as Sergio Perez brought his Red Bull home in third.

While most of the front runners started the race on the medium tyres, Hamilton was leading the race with Verstappen in second and Bottas third. But the race started to warm up from lap 18 when Bottas came in for a fresh set of hard tyres to try and undercut Verstappen.

Verstappen boxed the next lap for Hard tyres to cover off Bottas. Hamilton followed suit on lap 20 as Perez assumed the provisional lead of the race.

However, Verstappen set a blistering out lap and was able to undercut Hamilton to get past him as the seven-time world champion was coming out of the pits. For the next 10 laps, Hamilton and Bottas kept the pressure on Verstappen. After Perez went long to pit on lap 25 and was now down in fourth, Verstappen took the lead.

But the top three started to consider a two-stop strategy as all three started to take the life out of their hard tyres.

Verstappen then dived into the pits on lap 33 from the lead for a set of used medium compound tyres. Verstappen closed the gap back to move up to third to pass Perez, and with 10 laps to go, Verstappen was within DRS range to Bottas. On lap 44, Bottas struggling on his older hard tyres out-braked himself and Verstappen capitalised to pass and take second. Bottas was begging his Mercedes team to consider a two-stop. But the team did not comply.

The Dutchman then started to hunt down Hamilton. With one lap to go, Verstappen clawed down the gap to Hamilton. On the back straight, Verstappen got past Hamilton to take the lead. Verstappen went on to win the French Grand Prix to give Red Bull their third consecutive win in the turbo-hybrid era.

As Hamilton finished second, Perez got past the struggling Mercedes of Bottas to finish third. Alarmingly, Mercedes didn’t call Bottas in for new tyres to try for the fastest lap and the extra point that would come with it. This was despite the fact that Lando Norris who was in fifth was over 50 seconds behind.

Bottas came home in fourth with the two McLarens of Norris and Daniel Ricciardo finishing fifth and sixth. Pierre Gasly finished seventh for AlphaTauri ahead of the Alpine of Fernando Alonso in eighth. The two Aston Martins of Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll with extremely long first stints claimed ninth and 10th respectively to take the remaining available championship points in the race.

Verstappen now extends his championship lead to Hamilton. Red Bull lead the constructors battle with 215 points, against Mercedes with 178 points to their name. The next two rounds will take place at the Red Bull Ring for the Styrian and Austrian Grand Prix over the next two consecutive weekends. Red Bull clearly seem to be at an advantage and momentum.

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