French GP: Verstappen battles Hamilton to win on two-stop strategy
The Dutchman's win helped him to extend its points advantage.
Red Bull fought hard to end up 1-3 with Max Verstappen winning F1 French GP and Sergio Perez third, behind Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton.
Even though pole-sitter Max Verstappen made a good start off the line in his Red Bull in F1 French GP, he had a small off at Turn 1, which allowed Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton to pass him and lead the grand prix, with teammate Valtteri Bottas in third.
Red Bull's Sergio Perez was fourth from Ferrari's Carlos Sainz, AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly and Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, as Alpine's Fernando Alonso was eighth from McLaren's Daniel Ricciardo, as Lando Norris dropped three places to 10th.
Just outside the Top 10, Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel passed Alpine's Esteban Ocon for 11th. At the back, the Haas duo were back squabbling with each other and Williams' George Russell, where Mick Schumacher had to take evasive action in the corner.
It dropped him behind Nikita Mazepin, who kept his nose ahead. At the front, Hamilton led the way but complained about tyres, as they edged towards the pit window. At the lower end of the Top 10, both Ricciardo and Norris caught the back of Alonso.
With the Spaniard struggling, Ricciardo made the move on the left-right sequence and passed him for eighth, with Norris not leaving it late but pouncing on Alonso to take ninth. The Alpine racer also lost to Vettel, after which he was forced to pit.
Staying with the McLaren and Ferrari fight, Ricciardo caught Leclerc and passed him, just as the Monegasque pitted. The Australian also pitted but came out behind him. However, by stopping before, both managed to pass Sainz and Gasly in the pits and have track position.
It was pit game at the front too as Verstappen made the undercut stick to lead the F1 French GP after Hamilton stopped after the Dutchman. It also allowed Bottas to catch the duo and join the party. Perez, meanwhile, went a bit deep in the race.
Post their stops, Verstappen led from Hamilton and Bottas with Perez back in fourth. Behind them, Vettel and Lance Stroll were fifth and sixth, having not stopped, as Leclerc caught the duo after his stop. He had Ricciardo with him, with Sainz and Gasly not far behind.
The halfway stage saw Leclerc dropping behind suddenly as he not fall behind Ricciardo but also to Sainz, Gasly and Norris. The British driver was on charge after a late stop as he cleared the Frenchman and the Monegasque to be on the tail of the Spaniard.
Norris passed Sainz to be seventh as Leclerc dropped behind Alonso in 12th. The tyre trouble continued up and down the field, as Red Bull made the first move to pit Verstappen for the medium tyres - to convert the straight one-stop to a two-stop race.
Mercedes, though, did not pit their drivers as Hamilton led Bottas. Behind the Top 4, McLaren did a swap, with Norris running fifth from Ricciardo, as struggles for Ferrari meant, Gasly was seventh from Alonso and Sainz, where Vettel completed the Top 10.
A late stop from the German allowed him to be in the points and catch the drivers in front. Meanwhile, at the front, Verstappen caught and passed Bottas for second after the Finn started to struggle, which allowed Perez to catch the Mercedes driver too.
It was only couple of laps for Perez to catch and pass Bottas for third, as Verstappen started to close in on Hamilton ahead. The Dutchman did it on the penultimate lap as he caught the Brit and passed him not only for the lead but also the win.
After losing the Baku win, Verstappen won F1 French GP to extend his points advantage, as Hamilton had to be content with second, with Perez making it a Red Bull 1-3, which also extended their lead in the constructors' championship over Mercedes.
Bottas was fourth as the move between him and Perez was put under investigation, but it was cleared after the race. After their qualifying trouble, McLaren fought back with a fifth and sixth, where Norris led Ricciardo.
The Australian, though, had to fend off Gasly, Alonso and Vettel in the end as the four drivers finished closed to each other in sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth. It was double points for Aston Martin, with Stroll passing Sainz to 10th in the end.
The Spaniard had to be content with 11th with no points for Ferrari, as Russell's 12th place helped Williams to take back ninth from Haas. The Brit passed pitlane starter AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda towards the end, with Ocon behind the Japanese in 13th.
Alfa Romeo's Antonio Giovinazzi was 15th ahead of Leclerc after he stopped the second time, with Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikkonen in 17th from Williams' Nicholas Latifi and Haas pair of Schumacher and Mazepin, with the German retaking the lost position - everyone from Russell onward finished a lap down.
[Image courtesy: Red Bull Content Pool] [Note: This story was written on FormulaRapida.net]