French GP | Verstappen trumps Hamilton

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Red Bull’s Formula One leader Max Verstappen overtook Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton on the penultimate lap to win the French Grand Prix and canter 12 points clear on Sunday.

The victory from pole position 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, winner in Baku after the Dutch driver suffered a high-speed blowout while leading, finished third after passing Valtteri Bottas in the closing laps.

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Tyre strategy

Verstappen made two stops to Hamilton’s one and then used his fresher tyres to hunt down his British rival.

“We made the call to do the two stopper, luckily in the end it paid off. We had to work hard for it, but very rewarding,” said Verstappen.

“It’s a little bit of payback for earlier in the year,” said Red Bull team boss team boss Christian Horner, referring to last month’s Spanish Grand Prix when seven times world champion Hamilton won on smarter strategy.

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“Obviously they had a good strategy and it worked well for them… the only option was to stay out as long as possible and hope the tyres hold together, ” said Hamilton.

The 23-year-old, 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 champion Mercedes in the constructors’ standings with a lead of 37 points.

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

Bottas finished fourth, his anger made clear when he shouted over the radio “why…didn’t anyone listen to me when I said it was going to be a two stopper?”

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.

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The results: 1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 1:27:25.770s; 2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +2.904; 3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 8.811; 4. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 14.618; 5. Lando Norris (McLaren) 64.032; 6. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) 75.857; 7. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) 76.596; 8. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) 77.695; 9. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) 79.666; 10. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) 91.946; 11. Carlos Sainz Jr. (Ferrari) 99.397; +1 lap: 12. George Russell (Williams); 13. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) 14. Esteban Ocon (Alpine); 15. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo); 16. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari); 17. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo); 18. Nicholas Latifi (Williams); 19. Mick Schumacher (Haas); 20. Nikita Mazepin (Haas).

Standings: Drivers: 1. Verstappen 131; 2 Hamilton 119; 3. Perez 84; 4.Norris 76; 5. Bottas 59; Constructors: 1. Red Bull 215; 2. Mercedes 178; 3. McLaren 110; 4. Ferrari 94; 5. AlphaTauri 45.

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