Image: Wikimedia Commons/Stefan Brending
Image: Wikimedia Commons/Stefan Brending

Max Verstappen wins inaugural Miami Grand Prix

Max Verstappen won his second race in a row at the inaugural Miami Grand Prix, a race with a lot of build-up and very little excitement. After an early pass of his championship rival Charles Leclerc, Verstappen simply never looked in trouble, and not even a late safety car really delivered.

Leclerc began on pole, part of a Ferrari one-two alongside teammate Carlos Sainz. Verstappen swiftly dealt with Sainz, and then made a decisive move against Leclerc at the start of lap nine. Once he had the lead, Verstappen only extended his advantage – he was enjoying a more than two-second advantage over Leclerc by lap 12, and he held the lead through the only pitstops.

Ferrari simply couldn’t challenge the Red Bull – they needed (and, frankly, the race needed) something to happen to give them a chance.

It came in the dying stages of the race, thanks to a crash between Lando Norris and Pierre Gasly on lap 41. Verstappen’s eight-second advantage was gone as the safety car was introduced, and Leclerc had another chance to take the lead.

But he couldn’t quite manage, despite his best efforts – the car was always just too far away to benefit from DRS. Verstappen won the race and took the bonus point for fastest lap, cutting Leclerc’s title lead to 19 points.

Will Ferrari be able to do anything about Red Bull’s momentum, or will Verstappen breeze to another victory?

The podium was completed by Sainz, with Sergio Perez (who had power issues) and George Russell rounding out the top five. Lewis Hamilton came sixth, the seven-time world champion again behind his teammate, and he lost out on strategy – he didn’t pit for fresh tyres during the safety car because it may have meant losing a place to Russell, which happened anyway.

Russell benefitted from fresh tyres a little earlier, and passed with ease. Both cars did, at least, pass Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas, who made a mistake under pressure from the Mercedes.

It was a bad race for Gasly, whose crash came shortly after contact with Fernando Alonso. Gasly retired shortly after the Norris crash – Alonso received a five-second penalty, and then another penalty for gaining advantage after leaving the track, meaning he finished in 11th. There was also a late collision between Sebastian Vettel and Mick Schumacher, which put both cars firmly out of the points.

After the race, Verstappen said: “It was an incredible grand prix, very physical, but we kept it exciting until the end. I’m incredibly happy winning in Miami. It was an incredible Sunday for us.”

Leclerc said: “It was a very difficult race physically. We struggled quite a bit with the medium tyres. It made the race a bit difficult from that moment onwards. On the hards, we were more competitive. Towards the end I thought I could get Max at one point.

“Today Red Bull had the advantage in terms of pace, but it was fun. It’s amazing to see so many people and great to have so many Ferrari fans in the grand stands. We need to keep pushing, every race will be important throughout the year.”

Sainz said: “Nice and warm. I’ve been better. After the crash on Friday I still had a bit of neck pain going into the race and had to fight through it and we managed to get a decent result.

“It wasn’t easy at all, it has been a tough race with the heat and the car was sliding but in the end we got what we deserved, P3, and can build on that. I want more, but it’s not bad.”

F1 will return in two weeks, when the racers head to Barcelona to take part in the Spanish Grand Prix. Will Ferrari be able to do anything about Red Bull’s momentum, or will Verstappen breeze to another victory? One thing’s for sure – the race will certainly be more interesting than Miami.

Drivers’ Championship
1. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari (104)
2. Max Verstappen, Red Bull (85)
3. Sergio Perez, Red Bull (66)
4. George Russell, Mercedes (59)
5. Carlos Sainz, Ferrari (53)

Constructors’ Championship
1. Ferrari (157)
2. Red Bull (151)
3. Mercedes (95)

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