Formula One: Max Verstappen beats Lewis Hamilton to earn last-gasp victory in French Grand Prix

Dutch driver wins at Circuit Paul Ricard with reigning world champion forced to settle for second place

Max Verstappen extended his lead in the Formula One title race after a dramatic victory in the French Grand Prix on Sunday.

Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton was leading until the penultimate lap when he was passed by the Red Bull driver, who now leads the drivers' championship by 12 points.

The victory at Le Castellet was a third in a row for Red Bull after street circuit wins in Monaco and Azerbaijan.

Verstappen's Mexican teammate Sergio Perez finished third with Valtteri Bottas in the second Mercedes finishing fourth.

Red Bull gambled by going for an extra pit stop, sacrificing the lead to come back at Hamilton on fresher tyres and managed to pass the Mercedes driver with two laps to go.

"Towards the end I enjoyed it," said Verstappen. "At the beginning it was super difficult out there with the wind.

"One lap you had balance then the next lap, you were just sliding everywhere. Really difficult to keep the car stable. Once we made the first pit stop, you could clearly see the hard tyres, they were pushing me hard from behind.

"But then when we made the call to do a two stop, luckily it paid off but we had to work hard for it. Very rewarding."

While obviously disappointed to lose out so late in the race, Hamilton was far from despondent about how the race panned out.

"Congrats to Max he did a great job today, they had the better strength all weekend," he said.

"Considering we had such a difficult Friday I am really happy with today’s result of course we didn’t win and we was in the lead but I had no tyres left at the end so unfortunately lost the position but still it was a good race."

It was a see-saw battle between the two title rivals from the start at the Circuit Paul Ricard. Pole-sitter Verstappen beat Hamilton into the first bend but then slid wide at the first corner and ran off track, allowing the Brit to slip into the lead. "I couldn't keep the car under control," said a frustrated Verstappen.

But the race was ultimately decided in the pitstop choices. Verstappen made two stops to Hamilton's one and then used his fresher tyres to hunt down his rival.

The 23-year-old Dutchman, now level with Hamilton on three wins for the season, also set the fastest lap and has 131 points to Hamilton's 119.

Red Bull pulled further ahead of champions Mercedes in the constructors' standings with a lead of 37 points.

The podium was the first time Verstappen and Perez, who joined Red Bull this season, had appeared together in the top three as teammates.

In a race of no retirements, and with Ferrari out of the points, McLaren retook third place overall, with Britain's Lando Norris fifth and Australian Daniel Ricciardo sixth.

Pierre Gasly was seventh for AlphaTauri, ahead of double world champion Fernando Alonso for Alpine and Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel.