Following heartbreak in the closing stages at Baku two weeks ago because of a tyre failure, it was redemption for Max Verstappen at Paul Ricard as he secured a third victory of 2021 with a late-race overtake on Lewis Hamilton.
It wasn’t a faultless performance from the Dutchman as a small error in turn 2 at the start gifted the lead to his main rival. He explained what happened.
"I just lost the rear, tried to correct it but it just kept going," Verstappen said in the post-race interviews.
During the opening stint, Verstappen fell 3s behind Hamilton and admitted it was difficult to have a good balance because of windy conditions.
"In the beginning, it was super difficult out there with the wind," he said.
"One lap you had an okay balance and the next lap you were just sliding everywhere. So really difficult to keep the car stable."
Verstappen pitted from P2 on lap 19. The power of the undercut allowed him to jump Hamilton who responded a lap later. As Hamilton and Bottas put lots of pressure early in the stint on him, Red Bull switched to a two-stop and it paid off handsomely.
"Once we made the first stop you could clearly see on the hard tyres they were pushing me hard from behind.
"But then we made the call to do a two-stop; luckily [in] the end that paid off but we had to work hard for it, but of course very rewarding."
With a pile of traffic to clear for Verstappen and Hamilton in the closing laps, the Red Bull star wasn’t sure he could watch the Mercedes, but he got it done with two laps left.
"It’s difficult because there’s quite a lot of backmarkers to go through but luckily they all did well and we could have a good fight to the end."
On the rest of the season, Verstappen expects it to continue to be very close. He’s 12 points clear of Hamilton heading into the double-header at the Red Bull Ring over the next two weekends.
"As you can see the whole race we’re fighting each other so I think it’ll be like this for the rest of the season."
Thank you so much to everyone at @redbullracing and @HondaRacingF1, what a mega job 💪 Thank you fans, for voting me Driver of the Day! 🙏🏻 And dad, this race was for you, happy #Fathersday 🍾 #FrenchGP 🇫🇷 pic.twitter.com/bkJYJd8BMn— Max Verstappen (@Max33Verstappen) June 20, 2021