Paul Ricard finally delivered a great F1 race with a thrilling and intriguing French Grand Prix that was eventually won by Max Verstappen following the Red Bull driver’s last-gasp overtake on title rival Lewis Hamilton.

Down the road from the victory fight, there were contrasting fortunes for F1’s midfield runners. But the consolation for those enduring a difficult day is that there are immediate back-to-back races to follow in Austria.

Here are our winners and losers from the 2021 French GP…

Winners

Max Verstappen and Red Bull

Verstappen twice came from behind to overcome Hamilton’s Mercedes after initially gifting his main rival the lead with a rare error at the first corner.

Red Bull aced its strategy as Verstappen was able to undercut Hamilton to regain first after the opening stint, before a gamble to switch onto a two-stopper proved the right call.

Verstappen calmly evaporated an 18-second deficit to Hamilton on fresher medium tyres and swept past the seven-time world champion on the penultimate lap to seal a momentous win that hands him a 12-point lead in the championship after seven races.

It was another great race for Sergio Perez, who followed up his win last time out in Baku with a strong drive to the podium, having made a one-stop strategy work to pass the struggling Valtteri Bottas late on.

McLaren

A fantastic day at the office for the Woking outfit, which sealed a solid points haul with Lando Norris taking fifth ahead of teammate Daniel Ricciardo.

McLaren’s race-day showing was superior to its midfield rivals as Norris and Ricciardo battled past the fading Ferraris to wrestle back third place in the constructors’ championship.

It was arguably Ricciardo’s strongest showing yet for his new team as appears more comfortable than ever in the MCL35M heading into a crucial run of races. Some encouraging early signs that the old Ricciardo is back.

Fernando Alonso

After a slow start to his F1 comeback, Fernando Alonso has demonstrated his world champion qualities over the past two race weekends in Baku and France.

A second straight Q3 appearance put him on course for points and he converted a strong eighth-place finish despite Alpine’s race-day pace struggles.

Alonso finished just 1.7 seconds behind Ricciardo’s McLaren and AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly and can come away from Paul Ricard feeling he extracted the maximum from his side of the garage this weekend.

Aston Martin

Sebastian Vettel pulled off some impressive moves on his way to ninth place as he continued his good run of recent form in France on what marked a solid day for Aston Martin.

Excellent tyre management during a mammoth first stint helped the four-time world champion to his third straight points finish.

The team was left disappointed after qualifying as Vettel was eliminated in Q2, while a messy Q1 disrupted by two red flags left Lance Stroll facing a back-of-the-grid start.

Stroll recovered strongly in the race to take 10th at the chequered flag, capping off a double-points haul that helped the team close up to within five points of fifth-placed AlphaTauri.

George Russell

George Russell described the French GP as his best drive yet for Williams as he finished 12th on merit.

Despite losing ground on the opening lap as he was shuffled down from his P14 starting spot, Russell took advantage of an early pit stop to climb back up to 12th by the end of the race.

P12 was earned on a day there were no retirements as Russell and Williams’ pace made the difference, enabling the Briton to overtake the likes of Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda.

Losers

Mercedes

Mercedes were left rueing a strategic blunder as they watched victory slip through their fingers in France.

First, a decision to pit Hamilton a lap too late proved costly as Verstappen successfully undercut the seven-time world champion, before it mistakenly believed a one-stop strategy to be the best way to win the race.

Red Bull came out trumps thanks to its bold gamble to switch onto a two-stopper, leaving the Mercedes team scratching its head and Bottas unhappy as it conceded more curtail points to Red Bull in the title race.

Ferrari

A truly woeful day for the Scuderia as it came away from the French GP with no points to its name following a difficult race.

Ferrari started from fifth and seventh with Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc and but both drivers dramatically faded in the race as they struggled with tyre degradation.

Sainz fell to 11th while Leclerc’s slump was even more dramatic as he plummeted down to P16 on weekend to forget for Ferrari, who surrendered third place in the championship to McLaren.

Yuki Tsunoda

Following an impressive performance in Baku, Yuki Tsunoda came back down to earth with a bang as he suffered his third qualifying crash in seven races at Paul Ricard.

That left him on the back foot for the race. While his recovery drive from the pit lane to P13 was decent enough, he missed a clear opportunity to score points with teammate Pierre Gasly finishing seventh.

AlphaTauri needs Tsunoda to be regularly joining Gasly in the top 10 if it is going to meet its targets in the constructors’ world championship this season. Granted he is a rookie, but his mistakes are becoming a little too frequent.

Esteban Ocon

Home hero Esteban Ocon had high hopes of joining teammate Alonso in the points, but his race quickly went downhill as he failed to celebrate signing a new three-year deal with Alpine in style.

Starting on the hards didn’t pay off as Ocon struggled with tyre management, which in turn meant he ran on mediums for longer than planned.

Lacking pace on both compounds, Ocon tumbled down to a lowly 14th on a weekend Alonso comprehensively outperformed him.

Mick Schumacher

Mick Schumacher missed the chance to score his best result to date in F1 following his impressive qualifying efforts.

The German’s hard work to land 15th on the grid was undone thanks to a poor opening lap that saw him fall to 19th. Schumacher was then barged off the road as Haas teammate Nikita Mazepin found a way past.

Schumacher fought back to reclaim the position from Mazepin but will be left disappointed by his uninspiring showing in the race.