In a fascinating race dictated by strategy, Red Bull got the better of Mercedes by electing for a two-stop strategy with Verstappen, while Hamilton and Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas stuck to a one-stopper.

Verstappen fought back from a rare error at the start as he gifted the lead to Hamilton when he ran wide at Turn 1 and took advantage of a powerful undercut to jump his main rival in the first stint, before gambling on the opposite strategy to Mercedes by pitting for a second time.

Red Bull pulled the pin on a two-stopper at the end of Lap 32 as Verstappen dived into the pits for a set of Medium tyres in his bid to hunt down the Hard-shod, long-running Mercedes duo.

Verstappen had an 18-second gap to Hamilton to close down in the final laps, but used his fresher tyres to charge his way to victory. Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez offered little resistance as Verstappen swept by for third, before he passed Bottas on Lap 44.

Having cut Hamilton’s five-second deficit over the following laps, the Dutchman made his race-winning move on the penultimate lap, diving down the inside of Hamilton’s Mercedes at the Turn 6 chicane to seal his third victory of the season.

The win acts as redemption for Verstappen’s unfortunate lost victory in Baku last time out and sees him move into a 12-point lead over Hamilton in the championship.

It also marked the first time in the V6 hybrid era that Red Bull has claimed three consecutive victories.

Behind the leading protagonists, Perez pulled off a late pass on Bottas to seal the final spot on the podium and his second straight rostrum appearance.

Bottas’ pace dramatically dropped off in the closing stages as he struggled with tyre degradation on his way to finishing fourth.

Lando Norris continued his remarkable run of form with a brilliant drive to fifth ahead of McLaren teammate Daniel Ricciardo, who came out on top in an intense late scrap over P6.

The Australian beat AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly by just 0.739s at the chequered flag, with the home favourite in turn finishing one second clear of Fernando Alonso’s Alpine.

The Aston Martins of Sebastian Vettel and the recovering Lance Stroll rounded out the points-paying positions in ninth and 10th.

Click here for full results from the 2021 F1 French Grand Prix.