After a tense fight with championship challenger Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen scored the French Grand Prix, with Red Bull’s two-stop plan pay off nicely as they prevailed in the strategy war with Mercedes.

Verstappen passed incumbent national champion, Hamilton, on the last lap of Sunday’s racing at the Circuit Paul Ricard near Marseille, securing his third victory of a 2021 season – the 13th of his career overall – and extending his title advantage to scoring after seven races.

Verstappen had begun the racing on pole, but a mistake that saw him cut the curb on first-round allowed Hamilton to take a lead instantly.

Verstappen then took back first position courtesy to Red Bull’s successful undercutting in the pit, with Hamilton retaking the lead after his adversary stopped for the 2nd attempt for newer tyres.

Verstappen brilliantly passed Hamilton’s angry Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas – who was also passed by Verstappen’s Red Bull colleague Sergio Perez – before overtaking a disgruntled Hamilton for the last time on the 52 of 53 and finished 2.9 seconds lead to capture the chequered flag.

“When we decided to try a two-stop plan, it paid off,” Verstappen remarked subsequently.

“I’m not sure how we missed the current position,” Hamilton remarked. We had no idea how powerful that [undercut] would be.

“They had a terrific approach that succeeded for them. The only thing I could do was remain out as long as necessary and hoping tyres held together.”

Perez finished third ahead of Bottas on a good day for Red Bull, which leads Mercedes by 38 goals in the current function Object() { [native code] } rankings. McLaren’s Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo finished fifth and sixth, accordingly.

AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly finished seventh, ahead of Alpine’s Fernando Alonso, with Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll completing out the top ten.

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