Verstappen wins, fair: talking points from F1 French Grand Prix Car News

Max Verstappen strengthened his lead at the top of the F1 World Championship with a tense victory at Paul Ricard in France, overtaking Lewis Hamilton on the penultimate lap.

Unlike Spain at the start of the year, it was Red Bull who played the tactical masterstroke here, opting for a double stop and allowing Verstappen, on cooler tires, to pass Hamilton just to death.

This means Verstappen is now 12 points ahead of the drivers ‘championship, with Red Bull looking even prettier in the constructors’ table, 37 points ahead of Mercedes.

Sergio Perez finished third ahead of an increasingly frustrated Valtteri Bottas (whose radio messages are becoming as sworn as Yuki Tsunoda’s), with McLaren’s Lando Norris having another impressive afternoon in fifth. His teammate Daniel Ricciardo completed the top six.

Perez was the key

Everything was looking good for Hamilton at the start. Verstappen made a mistake in T2 on the first lap, letting the Mercedes driver pass, from where the Briton could control the pace. And he looked good, pulling a gap of 1.6 seconds after nine laps.

But the tires were becoming a problem, graining up front a lot more than the teams realized. As a result, Red Bull went from what everyone assumed was a one-time stop and brought Verstappen to the start of lap 19. Hamilton stopped a lap later, but he came out behind the Dutchman, and from there it was like the race was Red Bull to lose.

Key to this tactical battle was Red Bull’s Perez. Unlike Barcelona, ​​Perez was very much on the line, grooming his tires and running deeper before his first stop. This meant Mercedes was reluctant to put Hamilton through to a double stop, as the Briton would have to pass Perez and Verstappen to regain the lead.

Hamilton almost made it

As it is, Hamilton came close to securing another famous victory, because thanks to impressive tire management after his stoppage, he managed to keep Verstappen honest. Once the Red Bull driver entered for his second set of tires, he caught up and passed Bottas easily, but then did not win over Hamilton as quickly as might have been expected. It wasn’t until lap 48 that the gap started to narrow significantly – and after that the result seemed inevitable.

However, if Bottas had managed to hold back Verstappen, even just for one lap, it could have given Hamilton that crucial extra breathing space. As it stands, Hamilton had to defend four DRS zones. Verstappen only needed two to pass his pass.

New wing tests

After the controversy over Red Bull’s supposedly “flexible” rear fins, it was the GP where more severe testing was introduced: an FIA technical directive doubled the forces applied during the “push down” and push-down tests. “Pull back”. But given the double that Red Bull enjoyed, there hasn’t been a huge reset. Instead, it’s Mercedes that appears to be on the back foot, although it has come impressively close to yet another famous victory against all odds.

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This notice was published: 2021-06-21 12:20:39

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