Red Bull and Verstappen's masterful move at Paul Ricard

Memorable victory against Hamilton, decided by the risky bet on the tires. Alonso eighth and Sainz, eleventh.

Verstappen celebrates victory with his team behind the checkered flag.AFP

It was not only a great ride, culminated in an exciting outcome. It was not simply a strategic move by Red Bull, who risked a second stop that looked more like suicide. Not only was it a memorable triumph of Max Verstappen in view of Lewis Hamilton, rounded off with the fast lap bonus (1: 36.404). What was seen in Paul Ricard was one of those masterpieces that change trends and decide the titles. Mercedes and the seven-time champion, with their untouchable aura, fell on their faces and the blow echoed throughout Provence. Too bad Fernando Alonso, eighth, and Carlos Sainzeleventh, they would see the show from farther away than they would have liked.

It was at Turn 8, the one that bisects the Mistral Straight, that Verstappen culminated, just one lap from the checkered flag, an unforgettable chase. His overtaking before Hamilton, surgical, ruthless, supposed something like a generational change. Nothing could oppose the British, nor had he been able to resist, just at that very point, Valtteri Bottas. Mad Max reinforces its leadership in the World Cup and Red Bull, thanks to the podium of Sergio Prez, consolidates itself as the new dominant force.

Without answers, with the gums eaten by the grainingHamilton’s nerves had already been exposed five laps to the checkered flag, with a mistake on the outside of Turn 12. Meanwhile, Bottas exploded against his engineers. “Why the hell didn’t you listen to me when I told you this would be decided in two stops?” The Finn yelled. The point is, no one could expect something like that. It was Red Bull’s long-overdue revenge on Mercedes, which had surprised them with a similar move a month ago in Barcelona and at the 2019 Hungarian GP.

“More degradation than expected”

And that the matter had gone wrong as soon as the traffic light went out, when Versteppen, without temperature in the tires, brushed against the first piano to hand over the leadership to Hamilton. The reinstatement, without respecting the statutory bollards, did not even merit an investigation by the commissioners. The British, as in the old days, spoke on the radio of numerous ailments, while keeping his pursuer at bay. “There are graining on the front wheels, “he explained to his engineers.

So many pampering with footwear were, of course, transferred to the time table. “There is much more degradation than expected,” added Sainz, despite not encountering a single setback in fifth place. Wear and tear made Ferrari react before anyone else, who called Charles Leclerc on lap 15 to mount the hard tires. And soon it was found that this compound worked for almost everyone … except Ferrari.

From fifth place on the grid, after a more than decent first relief, Sainz was hanging out of the points. Once again it was the victim of the SF21’s maladaptation to hard tires. Madrid could not even contain Alonso, who passed him on the outside at the end of the finish line.

McLaren again

At the beginning, Alonso had stood his ground despite Leclerc’s insistence and with a tip he won a place against Lando Norris, to get lost on an excursion outside, very similar to that of Verstappen. This defensive work, corrected and expanded, frustrated for a time Daniel Ricciardo. Until on the eleventh lap, the two-time champion not only gave in to the Australian, but also to Norris, with a fabulous maneuver through the inside of Turn 11.

Come warning Alonso of the power of the McLaren, although what they did not have in Alpine was Sebastian Vettel, again stretching his first relay to the limit, or with the regularity of Pierre GaslyAgain without fail with the powerful Honda engine of the Alpha Tauri. With the sky overcast and the temperature lower than anticipated, the care of the wheels and the calculations of the computer scientists would decide the fate of an exciting race.

Verstappen, pordelante de Hamilton and Paul Ricard.
Verstappen, pordelante de Hamilton and Paul Ricard.AFP

Bottas, who had suffered a scare at Turn 4, par on lap 18, in search of the undercut about Verstappen. Red Bull protected itself immediately, as appropriate. What was incomprehensible was Mercedes’ moment of paralyzing panic, which left Hamilton on the track. That gift is worth, nothing less than leadership.

In the Silver Arrows garage they had to settle for the good work of Bottas, much more confident than in recent appointments. Even your engineer, Riccardo Musconi, seemed amazed by the squire’s rhythm. Then, in that scenario of tremendous equality, when the leader had 2.7 seconds over Hamilton, the 15,000 fans present in the stands put their hands to their heads. There were 20 laps to go and Red Bull called for the second time Mad Max. When I came back from pit-lane lose 17 seconds. Not only that, but on the way he had to get Bottas out of the way as well. It seemed the task of a colossus, but Verstappen fulfilled it with the punctuality of one who always knew that he was a champion.

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