Lewis Hamilton admits he and Mercedes must “dig deep and find some pace” after title-leader Max Verstappen’s thrilling French GP win.
Verstappen handed Brit Hamilton the lead with a first-corner error, went back in front after a Mercedes’ pit-strategy error and then triumphed as his Red Bull team successfully gambled on an extra stop.
Belgian-born Verstappen grabbed a lead he was never in danger rof losing with one and a half laps to go – after being left 18 seconds to make up in the final 20 laps.
Hamilton said: “Congratulations to Max, he did a great job.
“I am happy with the result, unfortunately I lost the position but it was still a great race.”
Verstappen is now 12 points clear of second-placed Hamlton in the world championship after Red Bull’s third straight win in the seventh of the 23 GPs.
Red Bull’s Sergio Perez snatched third from Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas when the Finn’s tyres faded.
But Nico Rosberg accused former rival and teammate Hamilton of “going soft”.
Rosberg believed Hamilton could have done more to defend his lead, saying: “Unusual from Lewis. Close the damn door! No?
“Usually, Lewis is the best one-to-one racer and I am surprised he didn’t try. At least try. Brake late, try to keep him on the outside, so a bit soft from Lewis.”