The French Grand Prix saw one of the closest on-track battles yet between title rivals Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, with the lead swinging back and forth right up to the penultimate lap at Circuit Paul Ricard.
Verstappen predicted that the rest of the season would be just as titanic a battle between the pair, after coming out on top at a track traditionally seen as a Mercedes stronghold.
“As you could see, the whole race we were fighting each other," the Red Bull driver told the media afterwards. "I think it will be like this for the rest of the season.”
Verstappen had claimed pole position for the race in Saturday's qualifying session and initially got a good start to the race, only to brake too deep into turn 2 and hand the advantage to Hamilton.
"I just lost the rear, tried to correct it, correct it, correct it but it kept going," Verstappen explained of the error that at the time appeared to have cost him the race.
“At the beginning, it was super difficult out there with the wind. One lap we had an okay balance but then the next lap we were just sliding everywhere
“It was really difficult to keep the car stable," he added.
However the team turned the situation around with an early pit stop that wiped out the three second lead that Hamilton had managed to pull out.
After his own stop, Hamilton came back out on wheel-to-wheel with Verstappen. While he couldn't hold the position, he stayed right behind the Red Bull and exerted all the pressure he could.
“Once we made the first pit stop then you could clearly see, on the hard tyres, they were pushing me hard from behind,” Verstappen acknowledged. "But then when we made the call to do the two-stop then in the end that paid off."
With tyre degradation proving more of a problem than expected, Red Bull switched Verstappen to a two-stop strategy on lap 31. While that dropped him back to fourth place, a fresher set of the medium compound allowed him to catch and pass those ahead of him in the remaining 22 laps.
“It [was] difficult because there was quite a lot of back markers to go through, but luckily they did well and we could have a good fight to the end," he said.
"We had to work hard for it but, of course, very rewarding" he added after finally pulling off a pass down the inside of the chicane with one lap to spare.
Asked if he'd enjoyed the race, he said: "Towards the end, yes!"
Verstappen's victory in this weekend's race means that he now has a 12 point advantage over Hamilton in the drivers championship after seven races.
With his team mate Sergio Perez also pipping Valtteri Bottas to the podium, Red Bull's lead in the constructors standings is now up to 37 points with 16 races remaining in the current 2021 schedule.