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French Grand Prix 2021

What we learned from the 2021 F1 French GP

Max Verstappen won an enthralling French GP after a titanic race-long battle against Lewis Hamilton. It wasn't the only standout moment on Sunday as RacingNews365.com gives you the details of what we can take away from a thriller in France.

Analysis
To news overview © Getty Images/Red Bull Contentpool

Max Verstappen took his third win of the 2021 Formula 1 season following a intense battle against Lewis Hamilton at the French GP.

Verstappen initially lost the lead at the start but fought back brilliantly to extend his lead in the Drivers' Standings to 12 points.

Just like Verstappen, Sergio Perez made a late-race overtake on a Mercedes as he overtook a frustrated Valtteri Bottas

Race of the year?

Depending on what you look for in an F1 race, the French GP might go down as the best Grand Prix of 2021 so far.

It was brilliant. No safety cars, just two teams and two drivers going at it for 53 laps with different strategies which converged with less than two laps to go.

The battle was a thriller with both Hamilton and Verstappen executing their strategies perfectly, leaving nothing left on the table.

Mercedes and Red Bull were in a league of their own and the championship protagonists were on it in one of the most intense battles in F1's turbo-hybrid era.

The past two French GP have been pretty dull but Sunday's race more than made up for it as Verstappen extended his lead in the championship. Formula 1 in 2021 has been sensational.

Red Bull the team to beat?

It was widely thought that Mercedes would be a dominant force in France, or at the very least the winning team. Instead, Verstappen converted pole position into victory.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said if Red Bull can beat Mercedes in France, they can be ahead at any track. Horner is absolutely right as the characteristics of Paul Ricard suits the long wheelbase and great aerodynamics on Mercedes' W12.

Sergio Perez backed up his Baku win with a strong Sunday drive as he managed his tyres very well to overtake Valtteri Bottas with five laps remaining.

The Red Bull does not have any weaknesses and their high-rake philosophy coupled with an excellent Honda power unit is working wonders.

Mercedes are on the chase.

Another Mercedes strategy blunder?

Nobody was thinking about the two-stop strategy yet it was two pitstops that won Verstappen the French GP. Mercedes' big error actually came during the first round of pitstops as they underestimated the power of the undercut.

Hamilton had a 2.8 second lead over Verstappen, having taken to the head of the field through a Verstappen mistake, but Verstappen blitzed the outlap to jump the seven-time world champion when Hamilton emerged from the pit lane.

Could Mercedes have gone for a two-stop strategy? Perhaps, but Verstappen would likely have still won the race. Mercedes would have had to pit Hamilton or Bottas before Verstappen's second pit stop.

It was a difficult situation for Mercedes and Hamilton which all came about because they lost out to Verstappen after the first set of pit stops.

Have Ferrari been hurt by new regulations?

Ferrari had their worst race of the season with Carlos Sainz down in 11th and Charles Leclerc in 16th. Both drivers simply went backwards as their tyres almost instantly degraded.

It was bizarre considering how strong Ferrari have been recently. The FIA have introduced new tyre measures and flexi-wing tests which started at the weekend with the French GP.

That could be the reason why Ferrari struggled but it's only been one race. Perhaps it was a track-specific problem or they got the setup completely wrong which burned out the front tyres.

Whatever happened, there will be a lot of head scratching going on at Maranello.

McLaren's stellar race pace

Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo charged through the midfield to both finish in the top six. Both drivers drove brilliantly, nailing the overtakes and making the most of their superior tyre wear.

With Ferrari's difficult day, it is a major boost for McLaren's Constructors' Championship hopes as they now have a 16-point lead over Ferrari going into the two Austrian races.

The best news for McLaren is that Ricciardo appears to be getting more comfortable in the car which is vital.

Russell rescues Williams

Haas managed to jump Williams in the Constructors' Standings in Baku but Williams are back on through George Russell's phenomenal drive on Sunday.

Russell initially lost out at the start, falling behind teammate Nicholas Latifi but he used the medium-hard strategy and executed it perfectly to finish 12th, beating Leclerc, Esteban Ocon, Yuki Tsunoda and both Alfa Romeo drivers without any retirements in the race.

It's one of Russell's best performances for Williams and it comes at the perfect time too as negotiations continue as to where he will be driving in 2022. He wants that sorted out by the end of the summer break at the latest.

RN365 News dossier F1 2021 French Grand Prix

The latest news about the French Grand Prix straight from the Paul Ricard circuit.

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