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French Grand Prix 2021

Verstappen beats Hamilton in thrilling French GP battle

Max Verstappen came out on top in an intense battle against Lewis Hamilton to extend his lead in the Drivers' Championship. Sergio Perez was third behind the two title protagonists in Paul Ricard.

Verstappen Bottas Perez France
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To news overview © Red Bull Content Pool / Getty Images

Max Verstappen won a thrilling French GP to take his third win of the 2021 Formula 1 season in a race-long duel against Lewis Hamilton.

Verstappen was on the chase in the second half of the race as Red Bull made a bold decision to use a two-stop strategy for the championship leader whereas their rivals used a one-stop strategy. With two laps to go, Verstappen took the lead after an enthralling strategical fight.

Verstappen, who started from pole position, initially lost the lead to Hamilton when he braked too late at the first chicane.

The top four positions remained the same until Valtteri Bottas triggered the first round of pitstops on lap 17, causing Verstappen to pit on the following lap.

A very quick outlap for Verstappen, including the fastest second and third sectors of the race, allowed the Red Bull driver to get alongside Hamilton going into Turn 1 as Hamilton came out of the pits.

Verstappen got ahead which set up a titanic battle for the remainder of the race between the championship protagonists with Bottas in the fight too.

Hamilton tried to get past Verstappen and was consistently within one second as the leaders pushed each other very hard after the pitstop.

Red Bull made a bold decision to pit Verstappen with 24 laps remaining to go onto the medium tyres, which put him 20 seconds behind Hamilton who took the lead.

Sergio Perez let Verstappen by as the Dutchman set consecutive fastest laps. Verstappen caught and overtook Bottas with nine laps to go before, with Perez also making an overtake five laps later to finish in third.

It looked like Hamilton was going to hold off Verstappen but the Red Bull driver judged things to perfection to overtake the seven-time world champion down the back straight with less than two laps to go to give Red Bull their first hat-trick of victories in F1 since 2013.

Result Race - French

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Behind the Red Bull and Mercedes scrap, there was an equally intense midfield battle. Both McLaren drivers came through the pack brilliantly, using their superior tyre wear.

Lando Norris was the last of the midfield runners to pit and made the most of his fresher rubber to finish in fifth place by overtaking Charles Leclerc, Pierre Gasly, Carlos Sainz and Daniel Ricciardo on the track.

Daniel Ricciardo had one of his best races of the year, overtaking Fernando Alonso on the track and jumping Pierre Gasly and Carlos Sainz in the pitstop phase to finish in sixth. Gasly in the AlphaTauri had a good race to end up in seventh, ahead of Alonso.

Sebastian Vettel made a crucial lap one overtake on Esteban Ocon to make the most of his alternate strategy by starting on the hard tyres to finish ninth with Aston Martin teammate Lance Stroll rounding out the top 10.

George Russell's impressive 12th place was crucial as it moved Williams into ninth place in the Constructors' Standings above Haas.

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