Max Verstappen won the first Miami Grand Prix ever, after taking the lead from Ferrari’s pole vaulter Charles Leclerc early in the race, defending it in a thrilling match in the late race.
Red Bulls reigning champion took P2 from Carlos Sainz in turn 1 at the start, and soon began to close in on Leclerc. The Ferrari driver lost the lead to his rival on the main dash line at the start of 9. lap of 57 and switched from medium to hard on the 24th lap, which caused Verstappen to react with his stop two laps later. It looked like Verstappen would win in front of Miami Gardens’ marina …
That was until the Lap 41 caution, a VSC-turned-safety car triggered by a collision between Pierre Gasly and Lando Norris, which sent the McLaren driver out in a spin when his right-rear wheel was torn off. Perez took the opportunity to find new media from P4 that appeared there, with hard-hitting Verstappen, Leclerc and Sainz in front.
The 47th round restart led to Verstappen leading out, but had a hard time building a hole for Leclerc. It was just as difficult for Sainz, who was chased by midfielder Sergio Perez for the last podium spot.
Perez tried to pass Sainz on lap 52, but locked in, both drivers avoiding contact, while Leclerc was less than half a second behind Verstappen in the chase for the lead. But neither Perez nor Leclerc could make it, and the victory – hardly as it was over the Ferrari – would be Verstappen’s.
Red Bull Racing
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Red Bull Racing
George Russell rounded the top five was George Russell, who started as 11th and pitted under VSC, and used the advantage of newer tires to pass teammate Lewis Hamilton on lap 54. Hamilton regretted the fact that he could not pit under VSC , but was promoted to P6 when Valtteri Bottas went wide at turn 17 on the 49th lap.
The Alfa Romeo driver appeared to be determined that P5 had started there, but his late mistake left him as seventh. The Alps were next, Esteban Ocon finishing as number eight after Fernando Alonso in ninth place – the latter was penalized with five seconds for contact with Gasly.
Alex Albon completed the top 10 despite driving as low as last time, the Williams driver beat Daniel Ricciardo to the final point.
Miami Grand Prix 2022: Huge contact with Vettel costs Schumacher his first F1 point
Kevin Magnussen withdrew late after contact with Lance Stroll (P12 started in the pits), and so did Sebastian Vettel – who started in the pits and was tapped out of the race by Mick Schumacher (P15).
Gasly did not finish the race after his contact with Norris (DNF), while Zhou Guanyu was the first retiree after being pulled into the pit on the 7th lap.
Despite starting in the front row, Ferrari could not turn their advantage into a Miami Grand Prix victory – while Max Verstappen has now made it two victories in a row.
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AS THE SAID
Swaying palm trees, celebrities on the A-list, the largest marina on this side of the Dade County – Miami Grand Prix weekend was always destined to be a showstopper. Now it was just time for light out in Sunshine State.
Ferrari painted the front row red thanks to pole-sitters Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, where row two belonged to the Red Bulls – Max Verstappen in front of Sergio Perez – while Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas would share row three with former Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton.
Aston Martin encountered fuel temperature issues before the race, with both Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel starting from the pitlane to avoid a penalty from the FIA - while Esteban Ocon would start from behind as Alpine had crashed in FP2.
Bushes of ominous clouds threaten, concrete walls close in, 18 drivers lined up online. In the midst of the stifling heat, four drivers (Stroll, Vettel, George Russell and Ocon) started on hard connections, while the other 16 started on medium.
In the beginning, Leclerc had a fantastic launch, while Sainz lost to Verstappen, who went into turn 1, Hamilton fell to eighth after a lock-up in turn 1, and Fernando Alonso jumped from 11th to seventh – and made easy contact with Hamilton in the process.
While Leclerc kept the station in the lead, Verstappen was a little over a second behind, with Hamilton – who is now complaining about injuries after the lap 1 loss from Alonso – running past the alpine driver to P7 on the run to turn 11 in the 3rd lap. Round 6 he took P6 from Gasly and the seven-time champion was back where he started.
In the 8th inning, Verstappen came a good distance into the DRS range, right on the tail of Leclerc, and the Dutchman made the pass for the lead on the main dash line at the start of 9. lap. Leclerc prepared their counterattack and hauled Red Bull all the next round. – but the reigning champion was now in a commanding position.
Ferrari started fighting. In the 13th inning, Leclerc was hit by a lock-up at turn 17, his deficit now at 2.5 s to Verstappen, while Perez approached Sainz to P3.
Mercedes, meanwhile, was on the march, with Hamilton opening a hole for Pierre Gasly behind (the Frenchman held Alonso for P7), while Russell’s hard tires came into play, and he passed Ricciardo on the 14th lap. In an attempt to undercut Gasly, Alonso pitched a lap later, but his stop lasted over five seconds and he came in 13th place.
Lando Norris chose to pit shortly after, David Beckham saw the 3.6-second stop unfold, with the McLaren driver coming in 12th place but falling to both Aston Martins in the 19th lap. Two laps later, he went wide in Sector 3 to get a short yellow out. flag. Towards the front, Russell was now up in seventh place, behind Hamilton.
Back in the battle for the podium places, Perez was on the radio to tell that his “engine was gone”, his pit wall trying to reassure the Mexican when he complained about a loss of power on the long straights. A sensor problem was to blame and Perez was back – but had lost significant time (and some engine power to start) to Sainz up front.
Hamilton was brought into the pits on lap 23, and came in seventh place with an even stop – just ahead of McLaren’s not-yet-pit Ricciardo – and gave the rest of the top 10 something to react to.
Leclerc was next to the pit, a swap to hard that took 3.2 seconds when he appeared in P4 on the 25th inning. That caused Verstappen to react at the end of the next round and come in second place ahead of teammate Perez, leaving Sainz in the lead until the Spaniard stopped for tough connections – along with Perez – at the start of 27. lap.
However, Sainz ‘stop lasted 5.4 seconds, Perez reached the terrain with a stop of 3.1 seconds to revive the battle for P3.
Then, on lap 41, Gasly – who had previously been tapped at the last corner by Alonso – went wide at turn 8, came back together and collided with Norris, tore off McLaren’s rear-right tire and sent him in a spin. A virtual safety car was called, which soon turned into a safety car.
2022 Miami Grand Prix: Norris crashes into the fighting Gasly
Russell took the moment to pit for the first time and dropped from fifth to seventh, with Perez swapping a second time with a number of others in hopes of snatching positions. Hamilton was asked if he would follow suit – but decided to stay out and try to protect his P6 position.
The restart in round 47 would therefore see Verstappen lead Leclerc and Sainz (the top three on hard). Then we had mid-deck Perez, Bottas, then Hamilton and Russell in the top seven. Alonso – now with a five-second penalty for contact with Gasly – led Schumacher and Ocon to the back of the top 10.
Up and down the grid the hunt was on again.
Perez was right on the heels of Sainz, as the Spaniard had run wide on lap 48, giving the Mexican a run for the last podium spot. However, the Red Bull driver made his move on lap 52, unlocked and made Sainz dodge. Sainz swept past to P3 and completed the podium.
Meanwhile, right at the front, Leclerc had closed the gap to within half a second, but Verstappen held on – continuing to take his second win in a row this season with eventually 3,786s.
Russell and Hamilton had their own duel at the restart. Medium-sized tires helped Russell approach Hamilton on lap 49, and as Bottas went wide in turn 17, both Mercedes swept past. Russell passed Hamilton at turn 11, but was forced to give the position back after running off the track. He repeated P5 a few laps later, leaving Hamilton to lament another unfortunate cover call on the radio.
Bottas’ late mistake brought him to seventh place ahead of the soft Ocon. The Frenchman started at the back, but had made 12 places after lap 37, classified in P8 and ahead of Alonso, when the Spanish driver was given a five-second penalty for getting in touch with Gasly earlier.
Alonso therefore finished in ninth place, with Alex Albon rounding the top 10. The Thai driver ran as low as last time, but came back to 12th place on hard tires and took the final point on the Safety Car restart.
Ricciardo pitted for hards on Lap 30 and again for softs for the late Safety Car restart, but could not make it count, finishing 11th in front of Stroll – the pit lane starter had been relegated to P13 thanks to a late collision with Magnussen .
AlphaTauris Yuki Tsunoda dropped out of the top 10 after halfway and finished in 13th place, after also finishing the race on soft players – a gamble that did not pay off for him. That left Williams driver Latifi in P14.
Despite struggling early with Tsunoda to get into the top 10 and then again with teammate Magnussen, Schumacher was classified as P15 thanks to late contact with a confused Vettel, whose race started and ended in the pits.
Gasly did not finish the race after contact with Norris, and Zhou Guanyu was the first of the five drivers not to see the flag when Alfa Romeo pulled him into the pits with a mechanical problem on the 7th lap.
On the podium saw the top three celebrating in front of Miami Dolphins legend Dan Marino – and his statue. On this given Sunday, it was Verstappen who ran a full nine yards in pursuit of his second win in a row and the first Miami Grand Prix victory in history.
“It was an incredible Grand Prix – also very physical, but I think we kept it exciting to the last,” said winner Max Verstappen.
“I think I will stick to racing,” he said when asked by Willy T Ribbs if he was fit enough to step into the boxing ring, “but I appreciate a lot of boxing. It felt a bit like that out there … but yes, incredibly happy to win here in Miami, it was an incredible Sunday for us. “
The championship continues in Catalunya with the Spanish Grand Prix on 20-22. May, Red Bull now only six points behind Ferrari – and Verstappen 19 points behind Leclerc …
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