Max Verstappen wins the inaugural Miami Grand Prix

Max Verstappen claimed his third victory of the season, after an impressive display at the inaugural Miami Grand Prix. Verstappen started the race in third position and had to get past both Scuderia Ferrari drivers which he did with ease to win the race. This now means that Verstappen has closed the gap to his rival Charles Leclerc in the Drivers’ championship to just nineteen points, with everything still to play for this season.

Second and third-place was claimed by Ferrari as Leclerc fought back after a safety car to close the gap to Verstappen late on. The Monegasque driver just didn’t have enough to win and had to settle for second place. Carlos Sainz Jr rounded off the podium in third-place with much needed points for the team, after not finishing in the last two races.

Verstappen dominant in Miami

From the get go, Verstappen was eager to take advantage of the two Ferrari drivers. The Dutchman was able to do just that after a great start, he went around the outside of Sainz into Turn One and got the move done on the exit of the corner to move up into second. It only took Verstappen eight laps to make a move on Leclerc for the race lead, which he was able to do on lap nine after Leclerc had complained of left-tyre damage.

The current World Champion led the race from then on and by lap twenty-three, the Dutchman was nearly five-seconds clear of Leclerc. The Monegasque driver pitted two laps later from the medium tyre onto the hard compound, in an attempt to confuse Oracle Red Bull Racing as many expected the race to be a two-stop strategy.

Verstappen pitted two laps after Leclerc on lap twenty-seven and was able to stay ahead of him and his team-mate Sergio Pérez, who was yet to pit.

However on lap forty-one, there was a virtual safety car after Lando Norris crashed out after Pierre Gasly accidentally hit the McLaren F1 Team driver’s wheel without seeing him, sending Norris into the wall. One lap later, it was upgraded to a full safety car which closed the gap between the top two in the championship.

The safety car came in at the start of lap forty-seven commencing a ten-lap shootout for the win. Leclerc was able to get within touching distance of Verstappen towards the end of the race, but just didn’t have the straight line speed of the Red Bull to overtake Verstappen. As well as winning the inaugural race in Miami, Verstappen also claimed the fastest lap and the ‘Driver of The Day’ award.

Max Verstappen leading the Miami Grand Prix – Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images/Red Bull Content Pool

Important points for Ferrari

Even though Ferrari were not able to pick up the race win, they took home vital points as both drivers finished on the podium. The result saw the Scuderia retain their Constructors’ lead.

The double podium was an important one for the team, following their poor performance at Imola. The result was especially important for Sainz, who had failed to finish the last two Grand Prix’s.

Sainz was able to hold off Pérez for the whole race and was quite comfortable at around lap twenty, as the Red Bull driver claimed he was losing power. It turned out to be a censor issue on the car which was losing the Mexican around twenty five horse power. Pérez began fearing the worst with another Red Bull retirement looming large, however the team were able fix the problem allowing Pérez to hunt down the Ferrari driver ahead.

When the full safety car came out with around fifteen laps remaining, not only did it allow Leclerc to get near Verstappen, which benefited Ferrari at the time but it also allowed Pérez to close on Sainz. However, despite Pérez’ best attempts to try and make a move on Sainz, the Spanish driver held firm and crossed the line in third-place.

Carlos Sainz beating Sergio Perez to third place – Credit: Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

Mercedes third best yet again

The Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team finished as the third best team yet again this season, with George Russell finishing fifth and Lewis Hamilton close behind in sixth at the Miami International Autodrome.

Russell who has started the season well despite all of the issues with the W13, found himself starting the race in twelfth-place and with work to do. His race did not get off to the best start either as heading into lap two, he had lost three positions and was down in fifteenth-place.

Russell started on the hard tyre whilst most others started on the medium compound, initially the British driver struggled to get the harder rubber up to temperature but showed strong pace once this issue was sorted. As the race progressed Russell began to climb up the places with some great overtakes, whilst holding out for a safety car to pit under.

He got his wish with fifteen-laps remaining, the former-Williams driver came back out of the pits on a fresh set of medium tyres in seventh-place. He was able to overtake both former-Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas and his current team-mate to finish in fifth.

Hamilton on the other hand started the race in sixth place and like his team-mate, lost out on a couple of places on the first lap after Fernando Alonso made contact with the back of Hamilton’s car. However, over the next few laps, Hamilton was able to pick up the places that he had lost and was back in sixth-place.

Hamilton pitted on lap twenty-three and stayed in sixth position for the majority of the race. At one point, he moved up to fifth in the after his former team-mate, Bottas, went wide allowing both Mercedes drivers to capitalise. With five laps remaining, Russell overtook Hamilton as he was on fresher tyres, leaving the Seven-Time World Champion in sixth place.

George Russell and Lewis Hamilton finished in fifth and sixth place – Credit: Mercedes Benz Archive

How about the others?

Behind the usual frontrunners was Bottas for Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN, who kept up his impressive start to the season as he finished in seventh-place. Behind him in eighth-place was Esteban Ocon, who started the Grand Prix right at the back of the grid after crashing out in Free Practice Three.

Ocon’s team-mate, Alonso, finished in ninth place, however he received a five-second penalty at the end of the race which put him down to eleventh, meaning that Alex Albon inherited the position having finished tenth on track.

The final driver to pick up points was Lance Stroll, who started the race in the pit-lane due to a fuel issue, moved up to tenth following Alonso’s penalty.

Yuki Tsunoda, Daniel Ricciardo, Nicholas Latifi and Mick Schumacher all finished the race outside of the points. Kevin Magnussen, Sebastian Vettel, Gasly, Norris and Guanyu Zhou all failed to finish.

Miami Grand Prix Full Results:

POS DRIVER NAT. TEAM TIME
1. Max Verstappen NED Oracle Red Bull Racing 57 Laps
2. Charles Leclerc MON Scuderia Ferrari + 3.786s
3. Carlos Sainz Jr ESP Scuderia Ferrari + 8.299s
4. Sergio Pérez MEX Oracle Red Bull Racing + 10.638s
5. George Russell GBR Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team + 18.582s
6. Lewis Hamilton GBR Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team + 21.368s
7. Valtteri Bottas FIN Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN + 25.073s
8. Esteban Ocon FRA BWT Alpine F1 Team + 28.386s
9. Alex Albon THA Williams Racing + 32.365s
10. Lance Stroll CAN Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team + 37.026s
11. Fernando Alonso ESP BWT Alpine F1 Team + 37.128s
12. Yuki Tsunoda JPN Scuderia AlphaTauri + 40.146s
13. Daniel Ricciardo AUS McLaren F1 Team + 40.902s
14. Nicholas Latifi CAN Williams Racing + 49.936s
15. Mick Schumacher GER Haas F1 Team + 73.305s
16. Kevin Magnussen DEN Haas F1 Team DNF
17. Sebastian Vettel GER Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team DNF
18. Pierre Gasly FRA Scuderia AlphaTauri DNF
19. Lando Norris GBR McLaren F1 Team DNF
20. Guanyu Zhou CHN Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN DNF

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