The tide is turning towards Red Bull

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Red Bull went into Sunday’s French Grand Prix thinking it could win anywhere if it beats Mercedes at Le Castellet, and Max Verstappen’s victory has lifted the Formula One title battle to another level.

The 23-year-old Dutch driver, now 12 points clear at the top, is more than just a threat to Lewis Hamilton’s dream of eight titles.

For the first time in the 1.6 litre V6 turbo hybrid era that started in 2014, Honda-powered Red Bull has strung together three wins in a row and cracks are starting to appear in the mighty Mercedes machine.

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Mercedes felt it was always going to struggle at Monaco and Baku, the two street circuits before France that did not really suit its car, but Le Castellet’s Paul Ricard was something else.

The champion had until this weekend led every practice session since the circuit rejoined the calendar in 2018, swept the front row in qualifying and won from pole position.

In 2019, the last previous race, it enjoyed a one-two finish.

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“We came here knowing this would be one of Mercedes’ strong circuits. They’d led every lap here prior to this race bar one,” Red Bull boss Christian Horner told reporters.

“It’s fantastic that we’ve had a big score here this weekend, it’s the win that Max should have had two weeks ago, but you can see how close it is.

“There’s nothing between the two cars. We’ve just got to keep pushing, keep looking for performance and pushing all the way through this you can’t take anything for granted.”

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