27/05/2024

French Grand Prix winner Max Verstappen. Photo:@F1/Twitter

Max Verstappen has won the French Grand Prix in the dying seconds overtaking his rival Lewis Hamilton, while McLaren continue to impress.

Max Verstappen has won the French Grand Prix at the Circuit Paul Ricard on Sunday, after chasing down rival Lewis Hamilton in the final few laps in order to secure victory.

The race could not have started any worse for the Dutchman making a costly mistake on the second turn, sliding off the track allowing Hamilton to take the lead.

From then on out Red Bull were on the back foot, waiting for the right moment to implement a strategy that would get them back in the lead.

Red Bull made their move on lap 19, pitting Verstappen with the hope of undercutting Hamilton who pitted the following lap.

The move proved successful putting Verstappen back into the lead.

All cars struggled in France with tyre degradation and a lack of grip, due to the rubber which had been laid down over the track to help with grip over the weekend being washed away from the morning rain.

This affected Verstappen, forcing him to pit again on lap 33 as his tyres did not have the pace to hold off the two Mercedes.

Red Bull put Verstappen onto the medium compound tyres, giving him 20 laps to chase down the two Mercedes.

11 laps later Verstappen successful overtook Valtteri Bottas, after the Finnish driver hooked wide trying to defend.

The race went from bad to worse for Bottas with Red Bull’s, Sergio Perez soon catching up to him and overtaking him for third place on lap 49.

Bottas had earlier urged his team to pit him twice as he thought his tyres would not last the race, which Mercedes decided against.

The final nail in the coffin for Mercedes occurred on lap 52 with Verstappen catching Hamilton taking advantage of his fresher tyres and Red Bull’s superior strategy paid dividends, over taking the Brit to cruise to victory on the next and final lap.

This marks three straight Grand Prix victories in a row for Red Bull. With Verstappen finishing first and Perez in third, this gives Red Bull a commanding lead in the Constructors Championship where they now lead 215 to 178 over Mercedes.

Verstappen took home maximum points in France, securing the fastest lap to collect all 26 available points. He now leads Hamilton 131 to 119 heading to Red Bulls home Grand Prix, the Styrian GP in Austria next weekend.

McLaren’s Success

The French GP was all about the undercut, which proved to be the difference between the racers in the midfield.

McLaren had the most success with the strategy, with Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo finishing fifth and sixth respectively.

From the onset of the race Ricciardo looked aggressive able to climb from tenth to ninth at the start.

From there the Aussie picked off each car one by one, getting past Fernando Alonso on lap 11 and then Charles Leclerc on lap 15 to climb to seventh.

McLaren then employed the undercut which allowed Ricciardo to get ahead of Pierre Gasly and Carlos Sainz.

Norris who changed tyres a few laps later raced up the grid and in the process overtook his teammate, Ricciardo, due to having fresher tyres.

With both Aston Martins pitting soon after, both McLaren’s jumped into the top six where they remained for the remainder of the race.

This was a strong weekend in particular for Ricciardo who looked more aggressive. In the previous GP, he had struggled to climb up the grid from his starting position, however, went from tenth to sixth in France.

Norris continued his streak as the only driver to score in the points in every race this season.

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Ferrari’s Struggles

Ferrari had a race they would want to forget. Following a strong result in qualifying which saw them starting fifth and seventh on the grid, there were high hopes for this weekend.  

Both Sainz and Leclerc appeared to be racing strong early, however, once their tyres started to degrade, they tumbled down the grid.

Leclerc went from seventh place on lap 27 down to eleventh by lap 30, unable to manage the tyres effectively.

Neither Ferrari finished in the points with Sainz ending the race in eleventh, whilst Leclerc had to pit twice, finishing 16th, his poorest result in a race he has seen the checkered flag this season.

Ferrari went into this weekend with a two-point lead over McLaren in the Constructors Championship but now leave France 16 points behind.

French native Pierre Gasly had a strong performance at his home Grand Prix finishing seventh and keeping AlphaTauri in fifth place ahead of Aston Martin in the Constructors Championship.

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