Max Verstappen conceded he was "lucky" to win the French Grand Prix on Sunday and revealed he had to “work hard” to close down Lewis Hamilton and make a dramatic penultimate lap pass on his title rival to claim victory.
Verstappen, who started from pole, dropped behind Hamilton after running off at the first corner but Red Bull chose a two-stop strategy, compared to his rival’s one, and made the most of his fresher tyres to snatch the win.
Verstappen said: “We had to work hard for it, but of course it was very rewarding. It was difficult because there was quite a lot of backmarkers to go through but luckily they all did well and we could have a good fight to the end.”
Asked if he enjoyed it as much as the TV audience, he said: “Towards the end, yes! In the beginning, it was super difficult out there with the wind. One lap you had okay balance then the next you were just sliding everywhere.
“It was difficult to keep the car stable. Once we made the first pitstop you could clearly see on the hard tyres they were pushing me hard from behind, but then when we made the call to do a two-stop, luckily at the end that paid off.”
Verstappen made a big mistake at the start, sliding off the track and conceding he just “lost the rear” and despite trying to “correct it, correct it, correct it” he could not avoid going off and conceding the place.
The track has traditionally been a Mercedes hunting ground but asked if Red Bull’s victory sets a tone for the rest of the season, Verstappen added: ”The whole race we were fighting each other so I think it will be like this for the rest of the season.”
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