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Max Verstappen celebrates victory at the French Grand Prix.NICOLAS TUCAT / Reuters

Red Bull returned the play to Mercedes to give Max Verstappen some more air at the helm of the World Cup. And he did it the same way that the star’s brand danced to that of the red buffalo a few weeks ago in Montmeló, where a certain change in the script allowed Lewis Hamilton to surpass the Dutchman. The two teams exchanged roles at Paul Ricard, where it was Red Bull who took an unexpected swerve in the final third of the event, ultimately giving the Hasselt rider the victory, the third of the course for him.

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The strategists of the Milton Keynes structure turned themselves over to the supercomputers, which, on the fly, presented them with the different alternatives. It is the engineers who decide which way to go, and in France they chose the right one. Red Bull called Verstappen for a second visit to the workshops and his car was fitted with new tires, while Mercedes opted to leave Hamilton completely exposed to the voracity of Mad max, who ate the Silver Arrows mercilessly. A photocopy of the episode in the Circuit. The Briton parried the blow and finished second, while Checo Pérez closed the podium after scorching Valtteri Bottas. Fernando Alonso crossed the finish line in the eighth and Carlos Sainz did the eleventh.

The speed of the energetic car on this course opens up a range of possibilities for those who direct the drivers from the wall. On this occasion, Red Bull saw it clearly and bet big. Aware that the key to everything was the level of degradation of the tires, the technicians made Verstappen momentarily abandon the lead (lap 32) to reposition him fourth, 20 seconds behind the head with 21 laps ahead, but with the gleaming compounds. The issue was that Verstappen was devouring the current champion at a brutal rate, two seconds per lap, which left Hamilton completely disarmed, powerless and almost speechless before the force with which his opponent arrived, who passed over two laps for the checkered flag. The best way to redeem himself after the skid of the start, where he went long in the first variant and lost the baton in favor of Hamilton, this time doubly condemned by his own. On the first visit to the garages (lap 18), a miscalculation allowed Red Bull’s main bet to command the race again, before the pirouette at the second stop, a real delight.

“This is [culpa] our. Thank you for doing everything in your power. You drove in an incredible way ”, James Vowles, the head of strategy for the Stuttgart manufacturer, apologized to Hamilton over the radio. He has reason to worry, a feeling that can be perfectly sensed on Toto’s face. Wolff, the director of the shed, who this Sunday, in France, was paler than a polar bear.

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