How Red Bull took French GP "payback" on a day of Mercedes mistakes
The French GP has been a stronghold for Mercedes since Paul Ricard's return to the calendar in 2018. But that all changed on Sunday, as a clever two-stop strategy guided Red Bull's Max Verstappen to make a race-winning pass on the penultimate lap - for once leaving Mercedes to experience the pain of late defeat it has so often inflicted on Red Bull
"We just didn't want to be in the same position as Barcelona."
Last month in Spain, Christian Horner's Red Bull squad suffered a deja vu defeat against Mercedes, as Lewis Hamilton charged late on to make a perfect, unexpected and aggressive two-stop strategy work to win a race where he'd sacrificed track position. At the 2021 French Grand Prix, Horner's team was not caught out again – as Max Verstappen reversed the late-race drama and ultimately triumphed in an engaging contest that was also laced with several familiar themes from other races this season.
But Verstappen was "caught out" at the opening corners at Paul Ricard. When the lights went out, Verstappen did not need to defend on the run down to Turn 1 as he led Hamilton off the line. But just as Verstappen went from exiting the left-hander to positioning his car left again for the quickly ensuing Turn 2 right, it all went wrong.
OPINION: The headlines were dominated by the Italian Grand Prix clash between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, who had the halo to thank for avoiding potentially serious injury. But two days earlier, Formula 1 had a lucky escape with a Monza pitlane incident that could also have had grave consequences.
With two sprint races under its belt, Formula 1 must now consider its options for them going forward. While they've helped deliver exciting racing on Sundays, the sprints themselves have been somewhat lacking - creating yet another conundrum for F1 to solve...
OPINION: With Valtteri Bottas already signed up for 2022, all eyes are on the race for the second seat at Alfa Romeo next year. Antonio Giovinazzi is the current incumbent, but faces a tough competition from appealing short and long-term prospects
OPINION: Daniel Ricciardo has long been considered one of Formula 1's elite drivers. But his struggles at McLaren since switching from Renault for 2021 have been painful to watch at times. Yet he's recovered to banish those memories with a famous Monza win – built on a critically important foundation
The clash between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton was the major flashpoint the 2021 Italian Grand Prix will be remembered for. Yet by this point, race leader Daniel Ricciardo had already done the hard work that would put him in position to end his and McLaren's lengthy win droughts, on a memorable afternoon in Monza
For the second time in 2021, McLaren will line up for the start of a grand prix from the first row. It knows it has the chance of "glory" if things go well for Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris at the start of the 2021 Italian Grand Prix, but even if they just maintain their grid positions, signs from the rest of the Monza weekend suggest success is very possible for Formula 1's other orange army
FIA explains why Perez escaped track limits penalty
French Grand Prix driver ratings