Max Verstappen's "passion and agony" during the French Grand Prix has been labelled as "infectious" by F1's managing director motorsports Ross Brawn.
Brawn has conceded to being captivated by a strategic battle between two great teams in Red Bull and Mercedes and two great drivers in Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton in a race he feels underlined the very essence of what F1 stands for.
It culminated in two-stopper Verstappen claiming a win with an overtake on Hamilton, who had only pitted once, on the penultimate lap of the race at the Paul Ricard Circuit.
"Max’s passion and agony in the middle of the race, when the pressure was so intense, was infectious," said Brawn, via his customary post-race column.
"Those guys were driving at a pace they all knew they couldn’t maintain but nobody wanted to blink first and pit.
"It was fabulous watching the race evolve from a slow burner to humdinger. This race was the epitome of F1 – we saw the human side and the strategy side of the sport in all its glory. And Verstappen was the one who came out on top."
Red Bull aggression trumps Hamilton fight
Despite early predictions suggesting Verstappen would catch and pass Hamilton with as many as 10 laps to go, the seven-time champion was able to find life from ageing tyres to set up a grandstand finish to the race.
Brawn added: "What Lewis demonstrated was his ability to bring more out of tyres in difficult circumstances compared with Valtteri, who obviously took more life out of the tyres. Lewis is a master of eking out performance.
"I still wasn’t convinced that even five laps from the end, Max was going to do it, so impressive was Lewis on that stint. It could have gone either way."
Ultimately, the win was due to Red Bull's bold move to go for a two-stop plan.
"Once someone pulls the trigger for a second stop, you can’t pit a lap later as it’s too late," remarked Brawn. "You would be beaten. You are then committed to going long. It was quite brave from Red Bull to do it from a leading position.
"But they didn’t want a repeat of Barcelona. It was a really competitive and aggressive approach for Red Bull. And that created a great finish."
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