Verstappen winner of a strategic and unbreathable duel at Castellet

Surprised by Lewis Hamilton at the start, the Red Bull driver took advantage of an offbeat strategy to win in the Var after a suspenseful finish!

Published on 20/06/2021 à 16:55


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Verstappen winner of a strategic and unbreathable duel at Castellet

The Dutchman gave up the lead of the race twice but still won in the end / © DPPI

Those who expected to take a nap in front of the Grand Prix de Franc were in favor! Because we were treated to a superb game of chess between two teams at the top of their game and with different strategies. 

Once again, tires were at the center of the game but unlike in Baku (Azerbaijan) two weeks ago it was for much more enthusiastic reasons. 

Installed in pole position, one would have thought that Max Verstappen had lost everything from the first meters of the race when he veered wide at the first braking and let slip Lewis Hamilton on your mind. While we thought we were witnessing a one-stop GP, it quickly became apparent that the degradation of the Pirelli tires was more pronounced than expected. 


Mercedes drew first while stopping Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes), then 3rd, on the 18th lap to fit Hards to replace the Mediums used by most of the drivers at the start. Red Bull reacts the next loop with Verstappen.

The Red Bull driver not only managed to maintain his position ahead of the Finn but he did even better as he regained the lead of the race when Hamilton stopped on the 20th lap, the effect of theundercut having clearly functioned in the Austrian clan. 

The leading trio Verstappen-Hamilton-Bottas then engaged in a ragtag battle, while the 4th thief of the gang, Sergio Pérez (Red Bull), was launched on the kind of offbeat strategy that he appreciates so much and momentarily occupied the command of the race. 

In view of the pronounced deterioration of the tires, Red Bull took the gamble of stopping Verstappen again, returning to the lead thanks to the pit-stop of his Mexican teammate, in a reverse scenario to that of the Spanish Grand Prix. In Barcelona, ​​it was Mercedes who chose to immobilize Hamilton a second time to allow him to come back like a plane at the end of the race to win.


Verstappen did the same at Castellet but the French GP should not have lasted much longer than the 53 laps on the menu. After joining Bottas on lap 44, the Dutchman swallowed him when reaccelerating coming out of the Mistral chicane.

Verstappen was then 5 seconds behind Hamilton in the lead. The leader of the world championship fought hard to get back on his great rival. 

Returning to his exhausts at the start of the 52nd and penultimate lap, he planted an unstoppable attack when braking the same chicane to once again seize command of the race and never let go. Verstappen and Hamilton were accompanied on the podium by Pérez, who got the better of Bottas at the end of the race whose tires were in agony. 


Behind the leading quartet, Lando Norris recovered well after a bad start from 8th place to move up to 5th position. The pilot McLaren ahead of his McLaren teammate Daniel Ricciardo, also author of a good race after his modest qualification in 10th place.

Pierre Gasly hangs on to snatch a solid 7th place for the account ofAlpha Tauri, in front of a Fernando Alonso pugnacious and combative Alpine

Sebastian Vettel made a quirky strategy work with an interminable first stint in Hard to climb into the points and into 9th position. The pilot Aston Martin precedes his teammate Lance stroll, yet started at the back of the line. The Canadian ejects Carlos Sainz and Ferrari outside the points at the end of a very difficult race for the Team

Further down the rankings, disappointment for Esteban Ocon (Alpine). Starting 11th and ahead of Vettel, the Frenchman had to settle for an anonymous 14th place, behind the Williams by George Russell and the AlphaTauri by Yuki tsunoda started from the stands, while he was on a strategy similar to that of the German quadruple world champion. 

After his misfortunes in Baku where he saw 26 points disappear while his left rear tire exploded, Verstappen immediately bounced back by making a splash in France. The Dutchman will arrive on the grounds of Red Bull with a lead increased to 12 points in the Drivers' world championship, while the Austrian team also pushes Mercedes a little further in the Manufacturers' standings.



AUTOhebdo deputy editor-in-chief. The feather dipped in gall.

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