Formula 1 2021 French Grand Prix – Max Wins the Race with Late Pass on Hamilton

Grand Prix

Jun 28th, 2021

Formula 1 2021 French Grand Prix – Max Wins the Race with Late Pass on Hamilton

Formula 1 2021 French Grand Prix was held at the Circuit Paul Richard in Le Castellet, France. It was the 7th round of the 2021 Formula 1 season and the 61st running of the French Grand Prix. The races had been held without spectators since the start of the pandemic, and the French Grand Prix was the first to have a large number of fans attending the event. 

Mercedes was hoping to get back to the front to fight it out with Red Bull after having two bad weekends on the streets of Baku and Monaco. In comparison to the two circuits, Paul Richard is a more traditional racetrack, with long straights and fast corners. 

Max Verstappen took pole position on Saturday, but a mistake on the opening lap meant he had to earn the race win. Sergio Perez made it two Red Bulls on the podium.

Pre-race Preparations Thursday F1 2021 French GP

The weather was set to be warm and sunny, with a chance of rain on the race day.

Meanwhile, local boy Esteban Ocon signed a new contract with the French team of Alpine Racing and will stay with them for a few more years. 

Pirelli brought the middle-range tyre compounds to the 2021 French Grand Prix. C2 (White) was the hard tyre and a primary choice for the race. C3 (Yellow) was the medium tyre perfect for the race start, and C4 (Red) was the soft tyre for the race weekend.

Friday Practice: Red Bull and Mercedes Head-to-Head on Practice Day

Mercedes was the quickest team in the morning session, but Verstappen clocked the fastest time of the afternoon session ahead of the Mercedes of Bottas and Lewis. Both the top two teams were closely matched to each other in qualifying and race pace. 

The circuit proved tough on the tyres, and graining was the biggest problem the drivers faced on race day. Behind the first two teams, there were three to four contenders in the battle for the best of the rest. This group consisted of Alpine, Ferrari, Alpha Tauri and McLaren. Fernando Alonso finished 4th in the afternoon practice session ahead of Leclerc (Ferrari) and his teammate Ocon. Pierre Gasly was 7th quickest ahead of Carlos Sainz, Kimi in surprise 9th place ahead of Lando Norris.

Saturday Practice: Max and Valterri Heat Things Up on 2021 French GP Free Practice 

Max continued his Friday streak onto Saturday, but this time, he was nearly eight-tenths ahead of his nearest rival, Valterri Bottas. Carlos Sainz was 3rd quickest for Ferrari ahead of Sergio Perez and Lewis Hamilton. Lando Norris was 6th quickest ahead of two Alpines of Fernando and Ocon. Gasly was 9th ahead of McLaren of Daniel Ricciardo.

Qualifying: Double Red Flags on the Qualifying Rounds of the F1 French Grand Prix 2021 

Yuki Tsunoda was the first person to crash on his first hot lap, resulting in the first red flag of the race. In the final few minutes, Mick Schumacher crashed heavily while going through sector two, resulting in another red flag. Lance Stroll was the victim of the second red flag. Mick did qualify for Q2 even after he crashed out of the qualifying. Nikita Mazepin, Latifi and Raikkonen failed to reach the second part of qualifying for this race of the Formula 1 2021 season.

All the drivers decided to use medium tyres to qualify for the third round and start the race on the more durable tyre. Mercedes set the pace from Red Bull, and coincidentally all the drivers who progressed into Q3 would start the race on medium tyres. Mick, who crashed out at the end of Q1 along with Ocon, Vettel, Russell, and Giovinazzi, failed to match the cut off time.

Verstappen Snatches 5th Career Pole & Sets Tone for the F1 French GP 2021

Max Verstappen set the fastest time at the first round of hot laps and grabbed the provisional pole position. The track started to get quicker by the end of the Q3, and Hamilton did improve his time on the final run. But Max went even quicker and grabbed his fifth career pole position and the Red Bull’s eighth in the turbo-hybrid era. Lewis qualified second ahead of Bottas, Perez, and Sainz. Pierre Gasly was an impressive sixth ahead of Leclerc, Norris 8th, Fernando 9th, and Ricciardo 10th.

Sunday Race: Mercedes’ Strong Start Fails to Thwart the Red Bulls from Winning 1-3

Polesitter Max and Lewis made a great start for the 2021 Formula 1 French GP. Both were side by side going into turn 1, but Max couldn’t keep his car under control and went wide into turn 1, losing the lead to the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton. Behind them, Bottas was third ahead of Perez, while in the midfield, Ricciardo made a good start and was up to P8. By the end of lap 10, Lewis led Verstappen by 2.0 sec ahead of Bottas, Perez, Sainz, Gasly, Leclerc, Alonso, Ricciardo and Norris.

Severe Tyre Degradation & Potent Undercuts Mark the 2021 F1 French GP

Ricciardo overtook Leclerc for P7 on lap 15, and with Ferrari struggling with severe tyre degradation, he pitted and switched to hard tyres. Ricciardo pitted the next lap to undercut Leclerc but was unsuccessful. When Gasly and Sainz pitted the next lap, this time, Ricciardo ably jumped both, showing how powerful undercutting could be. What we saw next echoed how teams could strategically use (or fail to use) undercuts to their advantage.

Bottas pitted on lap 17 and switched to hard tyres. Max did the same on the next lap and was able to undercut Bottas. Lewis thought he had enough margin in hand to prevent the undercut. Lewis came out behind Max after pitting on the next lap. Perez and Norris pitted on lap 24 and switched to the hard tyres as well. 

Unbelievable Chase & Tyre Management Put 2 Red Bulls in the Podium of the 2021 F1 French GP  

Radio communications showed that it might be a two-stop race due to high tyre degradation. Red Bull pulled in Verstappen on lap 32 and switched him to used medium tyres. Lewis stayed out because even a pitstop next lap would bring him out behind Max due to the power of undercut. 

The chase was on, and Max was nearly a second and a half quicker per lap. In the midfield, both the McLarens were flying while the rivals struggled with high tyre degradation. They would eventually settle for P5 and P6 in the race. Their direct competitor Ferrari was having a terrible afternoon with Leclerc making two pitstops, and Sainz would subsequently finish out of the points.

Max was finally able to pass Lewis for the lead of the race on lap 52, the penultimate lap of the 2021 French Grand Prix. Perez overtook Bottas to make it two Red Bulls on the podium. Bottas finished 4th ahead of Norris and Ricciardo. Gasly finished a decent 7th, Alonso 8th, Vettel 9th, and Stroll 10th.

F1 2021 Styrian Grand Prix

F1 travels to the hills of Styria, where two races will take place, with the opening race being the Styrian Grand Prix. Will Red Bull win four races in a row, or will the Mercedes strike back?