Verstappen pushing Hamilton hard in thrilling F1 title race

Lewis Hamilton's wish for a closer Formula One title fight is coming true.

Verstappen pushing Hamilton hard in thrilling F1 title race

And Max Verstappen looks like a rival who'll take some stopping, judging by his impressive win at the French Grand Prix on Sunday.

Each driver has two pole positions and three wins, with the two failing to score points at the other race.

It's demonstrating a remarkable competition between the 36-year-old defending champion and the 23-year-old would-be usurper to his crown.

A much more intriguing one, also, contemplating Hamilton crushed the competition last year to win by 124 points, by 87 points in 2019, and by 88 in 2018.

It's looking far, far closer this season.

Verstappen overtook Hamilton on Lap 52 of 53 in Sunday's race. He used the DRS method to pass him on the interior before zooming to the 13th victory of his profession. A bonus point for the fastest lap made it a fantastic day for Red Bull, that had never beaten Mercedes about the Paul Ricard circuit in southern France.

It was a close call, though, together with Red Bull's bet on a two-stop plan for Verstappen countered by a one-stopper for Hamilton as Mercedes kept him out to the exact tires.

With five laps Hamilton was 3.5 seconds beforehand.

Verstappen immediately ate into that lead, maintained calm and then positioned himself to assault on a long direct at how Hamilton has done innumerable times in his album 98 wins.

"When we left the call to perform a two-stop, fortunately it paid off," Verstappen said. "We needed to work hard for it."

Verstappen, who won by 2.9 minutes, has 131 points to Hamilton's 119.

"We pulled the cause and we went with the two-stopper and it worked. And great job from Sergio making the one-stop work," Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said. "The plan men are working the amounts and they go for this."

Verstappen chose an impressive pole place before Hamilton and his teammate Bottas.

Verstappen got away cleanly, but made a basic error cutting on the kerb on Switch 1 and talented Hamilton the lead.

"Initially it was so difficult with the wind. Really difficult to keep the car stable," Verstappen said. "Just lost the rear, tried to fix it, fix it, correct it, but it kept going."

He made up for this, and heads into the Styrian GP in a week's time on Red Bull's home track; followed by the Austrian GP a week afterwards on the same circuit, nestled at the Styrian mountains.

Verstappen has matched his career best for a year with three wins and seems a significant threat for Hamilton, who's attempting to acquire a record eighth F1 title to move one ahead of Michael Schumacher.

Red Bull has thrown down a huge marker to Mercedes, which has won every drivers' and constructors' championship since 2014. The previous four years have been Red Bull doubles with Sebastian Vettel in the wheel, and Mercedes is under pressure today.

"I think it's going to be like this the rest of the year," Verstappen said, grinning.

Red Bull have won three consecutive races, the other going to Perez, and Hamilton is sounding concerned.

"We have got to get some pace, that is for certain," the British driver said. "Most of the time we lost today was the straights."

This was another disappointing day for Bottas, who is fighting to maintain his seat .

He's only fifth in the standings behind Norris and Perez.

First, Bottas was overtaken by Verstappen after an undercut on Red Bull didn't work and then Perez overtook him nearly as readily as Verstappen had done.

"Why did nobody listen to me when I say this should have been a two-stopper?" The frustrated Finnish driver barked on team radio.

Verstappen headed by three seconds when his group changed tires for the next time on Lap 34, anticipating a similar move from Mercedes.

It looked like Red Bull may have it wrong, but Verstappen proved them right to strike a blow off at a thrilling title battle.

You need to login to comment.

Please register or login.

RELATED NEWS