2021 French Grand Prix: The F1 debrief

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Formula 1 in France is boring! DRS trains and no overtakes! Isn’t that the story we’ve been led to believe since Paul Ricard’s return to the F1 calendar in 2018? 2021 sure bucked that trend with 90-minutes of racing that ultimately saw Max Verstappen notch up another win. Here’s what the GP Grandstand team thought about the 2021 French Grand Prix.

Jacob Phillips – “What F1 has been crying out for”

F1 in Paul Ricard is a boring one-stopper right? Think again, guys! What played out on Sunday was, for me, one of the best races of the season, despite the lack of the wet stuff. A marginal two-stop race is what F1 has been crying out for in recent years.

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For the first time in 2021, I felt that Max Verstappen and Red Bull are favourites for both crowns after winning at a track that favours Mercedes. The strategy played by Red Bull was brave but offered up a perfect response to the blinder played by the Silver Arrows in Spain. Kudos to Perez too who made a one-stop work to pick up his second podium in succession.

McLaren, too, had a better than expected Sunday with my personal favourite Daniel Ricciardo finally showing us what we’ve been missing. Finally, my driver of the day was George Russell who finished 12th despite no retirements or yellow flags to speak of. Maybe Paul Ricard gets too much hate…

Thiemo Albers-Daly – “Perez a better wingman than Bottas”

Who said the French Grand Prix was boring? I think we got Bahrain 2.0 this weekend in Le Castellet and I, for one, thought that it was a rather nice tense battle up front that made the 53 laps fly by! Verstappen and Hamilton will be tussling until the end of the season it seems. And Sergio Perez proved, once again, that he’s a better wingman than Valtteri Bottas

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Daniel Ricciardo had a much needed solid weekend a great result to boot. Here’s hoping this positive momentum keeps going for the rest of this F1 triple-header. In fact, McLaren in general had a sublime weekend in what was a fitting tribute to Mansour Ojjeh.

Finally, Pierre Gasly and Fernando Alonso were another two stand out drivers, for me, with both getting right into the thick of it out on track. You know what, I think the French Grand Prix is underrated and we should all learn to love it a little bit more. What do you think?

Jim Kimberley – “Strategy and speed”

I wouldn’t have believed you if you told me I’d be typing this a few days ago, but…the French Grand Prix might be my favourite race of 2021 so far. We didn’t need the unpredictability of a tyre failure, or rain, or a red flag restart here. Just strategy and speed.

Max Verstappen and Red Bull were worthy winners in Le Castellet. Verstappen’s sole error at the first corner could’ve been costly had Mercedes been on the ball. Lewis Hamilton didn’t put a foot wrong and in other seasons would’ve glided to victory. His team cannot slip up and win this year, as France proved.

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There was a lot more to this race than the “big two”, too. Aston Martin’s amazing long stint strategy, Ferrari’s race day slowness, the return of the Honey Badger… take your pick. There was a story being told all throughout the field in France. To me, this Grand Prix was a perfect demonstration that you do not need collisions, mishaps, or wild weather for F1 to thrill. I was on the edge of my seat all afternoon.

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