How Red Bull took French GP "payback" on a day of Mercedes mistakes
The French GP has been a stronghold for Mercedes since Paul Ricard's return to the calendar in 2018. But that all changed on Sunday, as a clever two-stop strategy guided Red Bull's Max Verstappen to make a race-winning pass on the penultimate lap - for once leaving Mercedes to experience the pain of late defeat it has so often inflicted on Red Bull
"We just didn't want to be in the same position as Barcelona."
Last month in Spain, Christian Horner's Red Bull squad suffered a deja vu defeat against Mercedes, as Lewis Hamilton charged late on to make a perfect, unexpected and aggressive two-stop strategy work to win a race where he'd sacrificed track position. At the 2021 French Grand Prix, Horner's team was not caught out again – as Max Verstappen reversed the late-race drama and ultimately triumphed in an engaging contest that was also laced with several familiar themes from other races this season.
But Verstappen was "caught out" at the opening corners at Paul Ricard. When the lights went out, Verstappen did not need to defend on the run down to Turn 1 as he led Hamilton off the line. But just as Verstappen went from exiting the left-hander to positioning his car left again for the quickly ensuing Turn 2 right, it all went wrong.
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