Verstappen came out on top of an intense French Grand Prix to overhaul main F1 rival Hamilton with an overtake on the penultimate lap to claim his third victory of the season, having capitalised on Red Bull’s brilliant strategy gamble.

A two-stop strategy ultimately proved decisive in the battle for the win with Mercedes keeping Hamilton out on a one-stopper, which turned out to be a strategic error.

“As you could see the whole race we were fighting each other,” Verstappen said. “It will be like this for the rest of the season.

“It was difficult because there were quite a lot of backmarkers to go through but luckily they all did well and we could have a good fight to the end.

“At the beginning, it was a little bit difficult with the wind, so one lap we had an OK balance but then the next lap we were just sliding everywhere,” he added. “It was really difficult to keep the car stable.

“Once we made the first pit stop then you could clearly see on the hard tyres they were pushing me hard from behind but then we made the call to do a two-stop, luckily in the end it paid off but we had to work hard for it. Of course, very rewarding.”

Verstappen’s victory came after he had gifted Hamilton the lead at the start when he ran wide at the first corner.

Asked what happened into Turn 1, Verstappen replied: “I just lost the rear, that’s all. Just tried to correct it, correct it, correct it but it just kept going.”

The Dutchman has now moved into a 12-point championship lead after the first seven races of the season.

F1 2021 Circuit Paul Ricard | Full race results & driver standings | French GP