What the teams said – Race day in France
Verstappen was forced to chase his foe after a mistake at the start, but soon found himself back in the lead after some clever pit stop work by his team. They boldly opted to stop the Dutchman again, and then set him free to chase down an ailing Hamilton again. He made a move stick on the penultimate lap to seal a third victory of the season and extend his championship lead. Perez meanwhile ran a very long opening stint, pitting later than his rivals. That left him with fresher rubber, which he used to good effect to pass Bottas for his second straight podium.
READ MORE: ‘It was an easy pass’ says Verstappen, after late move on Hamilton seals French GP victory
Max Verstappen, 1st
“Winning this race was an amazing Team effort and to have a double podium at a track like this really shows the hard work everyone is putting in here and in Milton Keynes at our factory and Honda’s. 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 1 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. In the end we made the right calls for both cars and it is great to be on the podium with Checo. We should all enjoy this for a few days until we get to Austria and start again.”
Sergio Perez, 3rd
“The Team did a fantastic job today with great strategy and making the right calls at the right time so well done to everyone here and back at the factory. It’s a great result for them which is what really counts and so I’m happy with that. On my side, this weekend wasn’t as good as I hoped it would be, as drivers we only want to win so I just have to keep working hard, continue improving and getting better results with the great car that I’ve been given.
"Back to back podiums is still solid points but I just needed probably three more laps to get past Lewis for the 1-2 finish, so we’ll keep pushing to get it at our home race in Austria. I think it will be very good for me to have two races back to back in Spielberg as the first race will give me much more of an understanding of how the car performs around there and as a result a better baseline for race two. Hopefully we can be in contention for the win and continue this momentum.”
Christian Horner, Team Principal
“I’m so proud of the whole Team to bring home back to back race wins and a double podium which extends our lead in both championships. Max got a good start but lost the lead after an early excursion which we managed to survive and, after a stonking out lap following his first pit stop, he recovered track position. We didn’t want to find ourselves in the same position as we did in Barcelona so we pulled the trigger and went for the two stop which thankfully paid off today.
"It’s always a difficult thing to pit from the lead with 21 laps to go but we don’t shy away from risks and went for it. On Checo’s side, we split the strategy with a one stop which he made work coming home in third place so all round it was a fantastic Team performance. You can see how close it is between the two teams, there is very little between the cars so we’ve just got to keep pushing and looking for more performance. There’s such a long way to go in this championship so you can’t take anything for granted but now we’ll take this momentum with us to Austria for the first of two home Grands Prix for the Team.”
Hamilton found himself leading the race when Verstappen ran wide after the first corner, and looked comfortable in the opening stint. But Mercedes underestimated the undercut today, and saw Hamilton’s lead evaporate when they pitted him after his rival. This was compounded when they opted to stick to a one-stop strategy as Verstappen pitted twice, and that meant the Dutchman was able to chase down Hamilton for the win. Bottas likewise found himself without any tyres in the closing stages, losing a place to the sister Red Bull of Perez.
READ MORE: ‘Pointless’ to have defended harder against Verstappen’s Lap 52 move for the lead, insists Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton, 2nd
"Congratulations to Max, he did a great job today. The Red Bulls had better straight line speed all weekend but considering that we had such a difficult Friday, I'm really happy with this result. Of course, we didn't win and we had the lead but I had no tyres left at the end so unfortunately we lost the position, but it was still a good race. We've got to find some pace, that's for sure. Most of the time we lost today was on the straights, so we've got to dig deep, try and figure out where that is, and whether it's power or drag but overall, we've still got a good package. We didn't know how strong the undercut was going to be but what was really surprising was just how we ran out of that front tyre so early on but obviously they had a good strategy and it worked really well for them."
Valtteri Bottas, 4th
"I gave it everything I could to try and finish on the podium, we thought with the cooler temperatures the tyres would hold on for longer but they didn't, our predictions in terms of tyre life didn't quite match the reality. I was one of the first to stop for the Hard tyre, my front-left tyre wear was quite high and the last stint wasn't fun at all today, the last 10 laps with the Hard tyre were terrible - I had no front tyres left. We didn't pit for fresh tyres at the end to set the fastest lap because Sergio was under investigation, so we wanted to stay out. A disappointing race, especially because my overall pace this weekend was good but at least I got some points."
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"Today went back and forwards, we were in the lead because Max made the mistake but our overall pace was good - maybe a little bit of a margin, even. We created a 3 second gap for the undercut, to protect it, but it wasn't enough and we came out of the pits a few tenths behind. In the first stint, Valtteri's tyre started to have a vibration early on and we were really worried. We knew that by pitting we were going to trigger the stops too early but we had no choice. The guys managed their hard tyres well after that but in the end it wasn't enough. We have lots to learn from today and we need to understand the great pace of the Red Bulls on their out laps. It's something we'll look at to help us improve but I think we had a solid racing car today and I'm glad it was an exciting race, we love entertainment too."
Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director
"A frustrating day, we had a good opportunity to win and get both cars on the podium so the result is obviously very disappointing. Lewis had control of the race in the first stint and if anything we looked to be a bit better on degradation. We triggered the stops ourselves with Valtteri who was struggling with a growing vibration and that was clearly earlier than we wanted to come in but it was getting to a level where we didn't have an option.
"Max obviously took the next lap to protect against Valtteri but with Lewis having just over three seconds of margin, we thought that he would have just enough protection from the undercut but that wasn't the case. The pitstops were good, the hard tyre was obviously quick but there's more that we need to go through to understand why we lost the place.
"We could see the degradation was higher than expected but were wary of the two-stop strategy with Lewis as we'd need to pass Perez who had relatively fresh tyres; once Max made the move our best option was to see if we could just hang on but unfortunately the race was a couple of laps too long for us. With Valtteri we'll review whether we should have converted to a two stop but as with Lewis, we were afraid of the fact that Sergio's tyres were relatively fresh and unsure if we'd have the speed to pass on track.
"We've not got long to prepare for the next race and there are some areas we know we can do a better job on; we've clearly got a decent race car, we need to find a bit of speed on single lap and we need to be perfect on our operations but we're happy that we'll be back on track in a week."
McLaren’s pit wall had a good day, making two very different strategies pay dividends for the team. Ricciardo was the second driver to pit and the undercut proved powerful as he leapfrogged both Sainz and Gasly in that period of the race. Norris was left out much longer and therefore had it all to do on track, but he made easy work of the rest of the midfield runners to climb back through the field. On fresher tyres, he was able to pass his team mate to come home in that ‘best of the rest’ slot.
READ MORE: Ricciardo relishes ‘fun’ run to sixth in France, as McLaren car ‘starts to feel more like home’
Daniel Ricciardo, 6th
“Definitely a positive Sunday. I think it was the race we were hoping for but not the one we expected. I don’t think we expected our closest competitor to score no points, and for us to be the best of the midfield with both cars. That was our dream race and we managed to pull it off. I’m really happy with the race, although if I’m honest, I wasn’t totally happy with the car. I was struggling from the laps to grid and then for the whole race. But it felt like everyone else, besides Lando, was struggling more. It was a fun race and I’m happy we brought it home in fifth and sixth for the team today. It’s about time we got back in these positions, so it was a positive day.”
Lando Norris, 5th
“Obviously I’m really happy. I wasn’t really expecting a P5 coming into today, even with a perfect race. I just didn't think we would have the pace that we did. It was tricky with the tyre management but a lot better than we hoped, which is always good news. A good one for us as a team, a fifth and a sixth, one of the best team results this season. Overall a fun race. Hopefully we can continue this into the next few races.”
Andreas Seidl, Team Principal
“This was another strong Sunday afternoon for our team, thanks to two strong drivers, a strong car in race trim and perfect race execution from the entire team. Thanks to everyone here at the track, back home in the factory and our colleagues at Mercedes HPP, all of whom contributed to this result. Our battle in the Constructors’ Championship is very tight and finishing P5, P6 gives us very important points as that fight progresses. Part one of the triple-header is complete and now we’re looking forward to heading to Austria.
“Finally, we were racing this weekend in memory of Mansour Ojjeh, with a special livery on the car in his honour. It was a privilege to have Mansour’s family with us this weekend. I’m sure he would have enjoyed today’s performance.”
Despite only getting one car home in the points, today was still a strong race for AlphaTauri. Tsunoda started from the pit lane after taking on a new gearbox, and had a clean race as he fought his way back to P13. With no retirements he was always going to have a tough ask to get in the points today. Gasly though, showed a good turn of pace, battling Sainz hard and overtaking the Ferrari on merit. He was disappointed to be undercut by Ricciardo, but all in all, it was a good race on home soil for the Frenchman.
READ MORE: Gasly defends his battle with Norris as ‘hard racing’ after finishing 7th in home Grand Prix
Pierre Gasly, 7th
“I think objectively it was a good race, we finished behind some strong competitors and we can’t be too dissatisfied with that. Obviously deep inside I would’ve liked to have finished even further up the grid in front of my home crowd, but it was a difficult race and I think we did the best we could’ve today. We lost two positions with the pitstop, both Ricciardo and Charles getting the undercut, and that cost us a bit. We’ll have to review the data and see if we could’ve done anything differently. I gave everything I could out there today, and we had some great fights, so I have to be pleased with that. At the end of the day I think to finish P7 is still a strong race for us and we’re taking home some good points.”
Yuki Tsunoda, 13th
“The first lap was really good, I started from the pit lane and managed to make up three places. We got stuck behind the Alfa Romeos, who were on a different compound, so we tried to make the undercut work with the hards. I had to push from the very beginning on that tyre though and by the end of the race they were completely gone. Again, I have more mileage and race experience in a Formula 1 car so that’s really positive for me. I now just need to work on my qualifying so that I can start the race further up the grid and have a better chance of scoring points.”
Guillaume Dezoteux, Head of Vehicle Performance
“It's been a successful but difficult race today. We managed to bring home a seventh place with Pierre, which is a nice reward for the weekend. After the morning rain, the track had a big reset and the tyres grained quite badly, not only on our cars but on most of the field. In the race, we had to do a lot of tyre management to stay on the one stop strategy and Pierre did a fantastic job at attacking and defending throughout. With regards to Yuki, it was obviously quite complicated starting from the pit lane, but he showed a good pace on the opening laps. However, after the stop, in free air, he couldn't make as much ground as we would have hoped. We will analyse everything and see what the key learnings are for him going forward. Today we increased our gap to Aston Martin by 3 points, which is really positive. The fight in the midfield is very tight but we are up for the challenge and our competitors can count on us to make their lives difficult until the final race in Abu Dhabi."
Alonso was one of the first of the midfield runners to start struggling with tyre life, finding himself a sitting duck as he lost a handful of places. But the team held their nerve, didn’t pit him too early and as such he had enough tyre life in the closing stages to fight back and come home in the points. As for Ocon, he ran a long first stint on the hard compound tyre but wasn’t able to extract enough pace to challenge for the top 10 at his home race.
Esteban Ocon, 14th
“It was not the race we were hoping for today and we’ve had a disappointing weekend overall. Today it felt we were lacking something, and we have things to review. The pace wasn’t there on either tyre, they were degrading quite quickly, and it meant we weren’t able to push towards the points. We’ll learn from this weekend and move forward. The next race is next week, and we aim to come back strongly."
Fernando Alonso, 8th
“We started ninth and finished eighth and all in all we executed the race how we wanted, so I am happy with the result today. We weren’t expecting the tyres to degrade like they did and our Medium tyres didn’t last very long at the beginning of the race. I was a little bit worried but when we switched to the Hards we showed strong pace and we carried this through to the end and it looked like we might be able to overtake Gasly and Ricciardo ahead in the last few laps. We’ve had similar performances at a few circuits now on both Saturday and Sunday, so I think we can be a bit more relaxed that this is our real position and not the one we showed in Monaco.”
Marcin Budkowski, Executive Director
“It was a race dominated by tyre management and graining and it was a very different story for both of our cars. We tried a reverse strategy with Esteban, and he had heavy graining on his first stint. By the time he pitted, his race was already compromised. Fernando had a good start and he was in the top ten fight for the whole race. He had some front graining too, but, managed that well on the Hards on his second stint and he was able put some pressure on Gasly and Ricciardo in the close battle for sixth place. It’s good to be racing again with our rivals on-track after two difficult races, even if we feel we could have got more points out of this weekend. We’re looking forward to more exciting battles as soon as next weekend.”
Starting 12th and 19th, Aston Martin opted to fit hard compound tyres to both cars and run a long first stint. That saw their drivers climb up through the field, with fresher rubber then to attack in the closing stages. Vettel wound up coming home ninth, just ahead of Stroll in what was a very impressive recovery for the team after yesterday’s disappointing qualifying session.
Sebastian Vettel, 9th
“I think we had to do something different with the strategy today [by pitting late] and it worked out for us quite nicely with both cars inside the points. Unfortunately, I went off the track in the first stint and lost a lot of time because I was just pushing a bit too hard. Without that, I would have been closer to the group of cars ahead and with fresher tyres at the end. So maybe we could have finished a bit higher up if things had been perfect. It was hard to be consistent in such windy conditions, which were tricky for everybody to judge. But we made the best of things and it was a strong performance by the whole team with competitive race pace.”
Lance Stroll, 10th
“I was comfortable in the car and we were able to extract some good pace today. Paul Ricard is normally a track with little overtaking, but I managed to make all of my passes on track. Conditions were a bit tricky out there because the wind was changing from lap to lap, and there was quite a bit of tyre degradation across the field. Towards the end of the race, a lot of drivers were struggling for grip and we were able to take advantage to finish P10. It was a well-earned result and a good strategy certainly helped. Getting both cars into the points is a decent result, especially because we started P19. We have made progress with our race pace, but we need to make further gains on Saturday to help continue our consistent points-scoring form.”
Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal & CEO
“Formula 1 is all about maximising what chances are available – and, after a qualifying session thwarted by ill fortune in Lance’s case and by understeer in Sebastian’s, both of them drove supremely disciplined races to deliver a double points finish at Paul Ricard today. Sebastian started steadily, overtook [Esteban] Ocon early on, and the Ferrari of [Carlos] Sainz in the closing stages, capably managed a long planned first stint on the Hard tyre, and optimised that strategy to end up ninth. Lance recovered brilliantly from a P19 grid slot, moved up to 16th immediately, then passed [Kimi] Räikkönen and [Antonio] Giovinazzi in short order. The wind was troubling him at times, as it was Sebastian also, but he coped with it superbly, continued to battle the conditions skilfully throughout the race, and finished just behind Sebastian in 10th place – a truly excellent drive that saw him finish nine places ahead of his starting position.”
Sainz was running comfortably in fifth and Leclerc was a feisty seventh in the early stages. The Monegasque was the first driver to pit and it looked like the undercut had paid dividends as he catapulted himself up to fifth – but it was not to be as he ran out of tyres and was forced to pit again late on, tumbling down the order. As for Sainz, he was undercut by Ricciardo, lost a place to Gasly on merit and then found himself helpless on older tyres to defend in the last few laps on a day to forget for the team.
READ MORE: ‘We went backwards’ – Sainz and Leclerc shocked by lack of pace as Ferrari fail to score in France
Charles Leclerc, 16th
"It was a very difficult race today. Both Carlos and I struggled on the two compounds we ran.
"Towards the end, we made another stop for a fresh set of Mediums on my side, to see whether there was something we could do better.
"But it was the same as on the first stint: okay for three to four laps followed by heavy degradation. It is a big weakness and the main thing that we have to focus on now is understanding and improving for the future."
Carlos Sainz, 11th
"It is clear that today we didn’t perform well and that we lacked pace. Since the very beginning we really struggled with degradation and we carried that issue through the entire race, regardless of the compound.
"Despite my best efforts, it was impossible to hold our initial position. We must analyse what happened, understand the issue and try to address it. If there is a team capable of doing that, it’s this one. A double header in Austria awaits and I’m sure we will bounce back."
Mattia Binotto, Team Principal
"A very difficult Sunday, which sees us go home empty-handed. Tyre performance severely affected our race today.
"It’s hard to accept, but we will learn from it, determined to move forward. Living through the experience of a race like this, can make you a stronger team."
Russell had a dreadful getaway, dropping four places. From there, it was an impressive recovery drive from the Briton to come home 12th for his best finish of the season. Latifi though was left frustrated, complaining about the handling of his car during the race as he struggled for pace.
George Russell, 12th
"It was a really good afternoon. We made a couple of overtakes, including Tsunoda on track, and managed to finish ahead of Ocon and the Alfa Romeos, too. The conditions out there were tricky, and it was hard to keep temperature in the tyres without too much graining, but the car felt good and we made the strategy work really well. Finishing 12th on merit is a great achievement and I would go as far as saying it’s probably the best race I’ve ever had with the team."
Nicholas Latifi, 18th
"I had a good start and did well in the opening corners, but after the first lap I had no grip coming from the tyres and was sliding around for a lot of the race. About 12 laps from the end something improved and we found some pace, so it wasn’t so bad in the end, but it was a little too late to make any impact. Overall, there are a few question marks so we’ll investigate and make sure things are better for the races in Austria."
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance
"Although there was no rain during the race, the rain that fell this morning did enough to reset and cool the track, and therefore made predicting the tyre performance a little more difficult. Completing a one-stop race was definitely preferred but required some careful management to do so at a decent pace. Both George and Nicholas managed this well and both were able to put in quick laps towards the end of the race.
"Nicholas struggled a little during the middle of his second stint with the tyres falling just out of their window for a while. Unfortunately, this cost him a lot of track position. George meanwhile was just able to thread the needle and keep the tyres going throughout the stint, finishing a well-deserved P12 following an excellent overtake on Tsunoda. To achieve this position with no retirements and after a difficult opening lap, is an excellent result for the team and testament to a lot of hard work behind the scenes, both at the track and back in Grove.
"We now head to Austria in a buoyant mood and ready to tackle the short but exciting Red Bull Ring. We know that there is still a lot to do to improve the overall competitiveness of FW43B, but the car is getting better and days like today confirm that we can race hard in difficult conditions."
The Alfa pair opted to go for the same strategy, starting on the hard compound tyre. While both made inroads when the medium shod runners pitted, neither quite had the pace today to keep ahead of the recovering Aston Martin cars.
Kimi Raikkonen, 17th
“We will need to understand why we couldn’t replicate the good performance we had recently. I had a good start, then we struggled with tyre management, but I think it was the same for everyone: in general, we didn’t really have the speed we enjoyed lately. We had a much better pace when we switched to mediums, but by then we were already a bit too far back and, with all the time we lost to blue flags, we couldn’t make a difference to the final position. We’ll analyse this race and see how to improve for Austria.”
Antonio Giovinazzi, 15th
“Unlike the last couple of races, we did not have the pace to get into the points today. We were good on the single lap yesterday, so we will need to understand what happened today. In the end, it was not an easy race, struggling in the first stint with the hard tyres and then not making enough progress on the mediums. I am looking forward to being back in the car in Austria: different track, different conditions and hopefully a different, better outcome.”
Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal
“After two good races in the points and a promising qualifying yesterday, today was a rather difficult afternoon for the team. We made some progress at the start, but unfortunately our choice to go for a reverse strategy didn’t pay off. We started on hards but got caught in a lot of traffic and that cost us quite some time. In the second part of the race, we weren’t able to maximise the potential of the medium tyres as we had to deal with all the blue flags, so we couldn’t really make up any ground. We will learn from this, of course, and come back stronger for the double-header in Austria.”
Haas got both cars to the chequered flag, which considering the amount of squabbles their drivers had on track, is no mean feat. But Mazepin and Schumacher kept it clean, trading places twice with the German coming home just in front for the intra-team honours.
Mick Schumacher, 19th
“Overall, we had a very decent weekend with our first Q2 appearance. We knew the race was going to be difficult, but I was optimistic, which I think for ourselves is important. Today, we didn’t have the pace to fight with the Williams or anybody around us. It just means we have to work harder, I have to work harder and hopefully soon we will be closer again.”
Nikita Mazepin, 20th
“I think starting on the alternative strategy to try something different wasn’t the best as we were caught out. A lot of teams and drivers were caught out by the increased tyre wear than what we were potentially expecting and it’s difficult to judge the tyre management being on the other set. Nevertheless, I had an opportunity at the start of the race and I took it, there just wasn’t enough pace towards the end.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal
“I think today was just one of those days – all 20 cars finished, so we were 19th and 20th. We’re making progress, you can see the gap between our drivers is getting closer, which is not always a perfect scenario for us to manage. That’s just what happens when they’re in those positions. We just need to get our car better in general – we know that. It was a good learning curve and we got back with two cars intact. Unfortunately, today there was no lifeline thrown to us to have a better result. Now we get ready for Austria.”
Mario Isola, Head of F1 and Car Racing
"This race turned into an intense and exciting strategic battle, with a number of unknown factors such as cooler track temperatures, rain this morning that reset the track, and wind that continued to catch a few drivers out, all playing a part. These aspects contributed as well to increased front-left graining, which was key today. As a result, although a one-stopper was expected, there was also possibility of a two-stopper, which Red Bull and Max Verstappen went for decisively. The margins were very finely balanced, as everyone could see, between a two-stopper and a one-stopper, and it took a lot of commitment to make either strategy work. Congratulations to Max Verstappen and Red Bull for a strategic masterclass today, which kept everyone guessing right up to the final lap."
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