Max Verstappen reckon he was a lot more competitive at the start of F1 French GP even though he was stuck behind Charles Leclerc.

It was a good start from Ferrari’s Leclerc to lead F1 French GP from pole as he fended off the charge from Red Bull’s Verstappen handsomely. The Dutchman tried a move on the Monegasque multiple times, but all in vain.

Despite Verstappen not being able to pass Leclerc, he was pleased and encouraged how he managed to keep on his tail in the hot conditions which has hurt Red Bull in the past. The straightline speed aided them, but he was able to remain close in the corners too.

Of course, with the incident for Leclerc, there was no way to know if his strategy would have worked and once in lead if he would have kept the Monegasque behind. “We will never know because we cannot swap cars, but it looked good from our side,” said Verstappen.

“I was very happy because I wanted to see immediately if we could follow or not compared to Austria where it was the other way around, where you know, I was in the lead, but I could barely hold on. But this time I think we were a lot more competitive. Of course, our straightline speed was very beneficial, but because of that, of course, in the high-speed we had to be a bit more careful.

“And yeah, I stayed in his DRS for quite a while, but of course around here even driving on your own the tyres are already getting really hot. So I think by doing that, towards the pit stop, my tyres were a bit too hot. That’s why I think he pulled away a little bit. But it wasn’t anything, like, drastic, the way he was pulling away. So I still had good hope that we would have had a good fight on the other compound as well,” summed up Verstappen.

The Dutchman, in fact, thought Leclerc would be faster than he was but he wasn’t clear if the Ferrari driver was just managing his race or that was his actual pace. “I thought he would be faster, yeah,” said Leclerc. “I thought it would be very hard to follow.

“But immediately, I could see that our balance was not bad. But again, it can also be just managing a bit, but it looked like we were very competitive. And that’s of course what we like to see,” summed up Verstappen.

On Ferrari side, team boss Mattia Binotto reckoned the weekend was pretty solid for them and Leclerc looked in good shape for the race until the mistake. “It has been a good weekend in terms of pace,” he said. “The car has proved to be very competitive. Carlos race as well showed it. Charles got the pole. Charles was leading the race.

“Ferrari had an edge on the Red Bull in terms of tyre degradation by Lap 15. Max had to stop. Ferrari could have extended the stint. We were extending the stint, looking at the time when Max stopped when he was starting suffering from tyre degradation. Charles was gaining two or three tenths per lap on Max.

“This proving once again that our car management is quite gentle with tyre management. The drivers as well are doing a proper job. We come out of the French GP with full confidence in our package, in our drivers capacity and in our speed.”

Here’s Charles Leclerc and Mattia Binotto on the mistake

Here’s Sergio Perez, George Russell on their fight