French win should have been easier for Verstappen
"I would have liked to pull off into the distance and cruise ahead on my own but it doesn’t often work like that"
Max Verstappen s victory at the French Grand Prix was much harder than he hoped it would be.
Starting from pole position, the Dutchman lost control of his car and went off the track at Turn 2 to allow Lewis Hamilton to inherit the lead for the opening stint of the race.
Verstappen took the lead at the first round of stops when Mercedes grossly misjudged the undercut and left Hamilton out two laps after the Red Bull stopped. After complaining on the radio about the tyres, a two-stop strategy came into play and Verstappen peeled off into the pits for his second stop, emerging 20 seconds behind Hamilton with 22 laps to go.
His charge through the field was eased as he was let past by team-mate Sergio Perez and a half-hearted move spooked Valtteri Bottas into running deep at the chicane to allow Verstappen to cruise into second place. His hunt of Hamilton was complete on the penultimate lap when his fresher tyres made light work of the toiling Mercedes to claim the victory - his second in three races - and extend his championship lead to 12 points.
He said: "Of course I would have liked to pull off into the distance and cruise ahead on my own but it doesn’t often work like that in Formula One and we really had to work for it today. You can see how close the two teams are and to win like this on strategy with two laps to go is very rewarding.
"It was certainly not an easy race and I got caught out at Turn 1 and lost the rear which meant I had to go off the track and lost a position to Lewis. I was of course upset at the time but I knew there was a long race ahead and I had to focus.
"In the first stint I didn’t really have the pace to fight with Lewis so we took the risk to pit first and to be honest I didn’t expect the undercut to work so well that I would come out ahead. They were pushing hard to try and pass me but luckily I could just about stay ahead and I knew I couldn’t make any mistakes.
"We decided to go for the two-stop strategy which worked out well as our car suited the conditions towards the end of the race as the wind became a little less and the track rubbered in.
"We should all enjoy this for a few days until we get to Austria and start again.”