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Winners and losers from the 2021 F1 French Grand Prix

Red Bull solidified their position at the top of the standings during the 2021 French Grand Prix, while Mercedes wilted under the pressure. Who were the other winners and losers though?

The 2021 French Grand Prix proved to be one of the more intriguing races of the season, with the pendulum swinging back and forth between Red Bull and Mercedes throughout the Grand Prix. The race was eventually won by Max Verstappen and Red Bull, with the duo somewhat avenging their loss in Barcelona. Mercedes on the other hand botched the strategies for both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, with the pair struggling on a one-stop strategy. RacingNews365.com takes a look at the main winners and losers from Sunday at Paul Ricard.

The Winners

Max Verstappen

The Dutchman more than made up for his mistake at the start, executing a two-stop strategy to perfection to claim his third win of the season. Verstappen's out-lap after the first round of pit stops was blisteringly quick, stunning both Mercedes and Hamilton and in turn giving him a firm advantage. Verstappen then proceeded to put on a masterclass in tyre management after his second pit stop, flying past Hamilton with just a lap and a half to go. The Red Bull driver also claimed his first ever hat-trick, having ended the weekend with the win, fastest lap and pole position along with a 12-point lead in the Drivers' Championship.

Sergio Perez and Red Bull

Since the departure of Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull have failed to find a suitable partner for Verstappen. The Austrian outfit have arguably the best driver development programme on the planet but were forced to look outside their stable for the 2021 season. The recruitment of Perez bucked the trend of Red Bull promoting drivers from within their ranks, and the decision seems to be paying off handsomely. The Mexican claimed his second podium finish of the season, with his tremendous race management skills enabling Red Bull to keep him out longer, in turn forcing Mercedes to commit to a one-stop strategy. The win in France meant Red Bull won three consecutive Grand Prix for the first time in the V6 Turbo Hybrid era, with Perez playing a key role in helping the Austrian team achieve this landmark.

McLaren

With Ferrari somewhat usurping the Woking-based outfit in recent races, both Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo put in strong performances to help McLaren reclaim third in the Constructors' Championship. Norris moved up three positions during the race to claim fifth, whilst Ricciardo did one better by starting 10th and finishing the race in sixth. The British team's strong performance at the Paul Ricard circuit means that they have not only leapfrogged Ferrari but now lead their Italian rivals by a margin of 16 points in the team standings.

Pierre Gasly

Pierre Gasly can easily lay claim to being one of the drivers of the season. The Frenchman once again had a strong Saturday, qualifying sixth for his home race, and while he would ultimately lose out to the aforementioned McLaren drivers, Gasly's performance enabled AlphaTauri to strengthen their hold on fifth position in the Constructors' Championship. With Esteban Ocon being confirmed at Alpine for three more seasons, one does wonder what Gasly's F1 future holds as he certainly seems deserving of a seat at a top team.

Aston Martin

With Lance Stroll being caught out by a red flag during Q1 and Vettel starting 12th, the Aston Martin did well to get both of their drivers into the points. The team were able to execute the alternate strategy to perfection, running longer than those around them which enabled them to jump ahead of the queue. Whilst the team are struggling to hit the heights they reached in 2020, Aston Martin are still plugging along in 2021.

The Losers

Mercedes

Plain and simply put, the Mercedes Formula 1 team let their drivers down on Sunday. The Silver Arrows miscalculated the advantage of the undercut and left Hamilton out for too long during the first stint. The Brackley-based squad then denied Bottas his request of switching to a two-stopper, a mistake that ultimately cost the Finn a final spot on the podium. It is telling that the once unflappable team have now made a series of errors that have cost them the lead in both the Drivers and Constructors' Championships. It will be interesting to see how the team react after a third consecutive race where they have underperformed.

Ferrari

Heading into the weekend, Ferrari looked confident of cementing their hold on third place in the Constructors' Championship. The Italian team however had a shocker in France with neither of their drivers finishing in the points. Lelcerc in particular struggled throughout the weekend and a final result of 16th is far below the standards he sets for himself. Ferrari will be hoping the characteristics of the Red Bull Ring are more suited to the dymanics of the SF21.

Esteban Ocon

While his teammate Fernando Alonso finished eighth, Ocon failed to score points in what was both his and his team's home race. The Frenchman failed to make it out of Q2 and despite starting in 11th, dropped further back with a 14th place finish. A poor return on a weekend where he committed his long-term future to the team.

Mick Schumacher

Haas driver Mick Schumacher was having a great Q1 until he crashed into the wall. Whilst the German ultimately made it into Q2 for the first time in his career, he was unable to take part in the session and finished the race in 19th place. Even though the Haas is not the easiest car to drive, Schumacher will be hoping he can eliminate the errors that have so far plagued his rookie campaign.

Yuki Tsunoda

After experiencing his best-ever finish in F1 in Baku, Yuki Tsunoda made yet another error during the French Grand Prix weekend, forcing him to retire from Q1 after spinning out in the early part of the lap. The Japanese driver was touted as a potential World Champion after the first round of the season, though his stock has dipped considerably as the year has progressed. With both Juri Vips and Liam Lawson performing strongly in F2, Tsunoda will need to find a consistent bit of form quickly.

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