Red Bull boss Christian Horner described the manner of Max Verstappen’s victory in France as “a little bit of payback” for the nature of its defeat in Spain.
Verstappen relinquished the lead after running wide on the first lap but utilised the unexpectedly powerful undercut to jump ahead of Lewis Hamilton.
Red Bull opted to pit Verstappen for a second time and he reeled in the one-stopping Hamilton before successfully re-taking the lead on the penultimate lap.
It was a near-reverse of the situation that unfolded at last month’s Spanish Grand Prix, where a two-stopping Hamilton overhauled the one-stopping Verstappen.
“In the first stint, it was just very, very difficult to follow closely, and you know it was quite tough, so [Valtteri] Bottas pitted,” said Horner.
“We had just enough to cover him and we were surprised that they didn’t do the same with Lewis on the same lap because Max then had stonking out lap and managed to get track position.
“At that point, it felt like, you know, Mercedes, they were pushing very hard, and we just didn’t want to be in the same position as Barcelona.
“It’s always a difficult thing to pit from the lead with 21 laps to go, but that’s what we did.
“Obviously Max had the pace to catch and pass the three cars ahead it was crucial to get past Bottas quickly.
“And then, you know, it was great to get Lewis and you know it was a little bit of payback for Barcelona earlier in the year with a lap and a half to go.”
Verstappen’s victory came at a venue where Mercedes had previously triumphed upon Formula 1’s prior two visits to Paul Ricard in the modern era.
“I think that we came here knowing that this would be one of Mercedes strong circuits,” said Horner.
“I mean they’ve led every lap here prior to this race bar one. And I think that was with Lewis.
“So it’s fantastic that we’ve had a big score here this weekend, and it’s the win Max should have had two weeks ago.”