Max Verstappen won the first-ever Miami Grand Prix, having pried the leadoff Ferrari’s pole-sitter Charles Leclerc early in the race, and defended it in an enthralling late-race battle.
Red Bull’s reigning champion took P2 off Carlos Sainz into 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 straight at the start of Lap 9 of 57 and pitted from mediums to hards on Lap 24, causing Verstappen to react with his stop two laps later. It seemed that Verstappen would cruise to victory in front of Miami Gardens’ marina…
That was until the Lap 41 caution, a VSC-turned-Safety Car triggered by a clash between Pierre Gasly and Lando Norris, which sent the McLaren driver into a spin as his right-rear tyre ripped off. Perez took the opportunity to pit for new mediums from P4, emerging there, with hard-shod Verstappen, Leclerc and Sainz ahead.
The Lap 47 restart saw Verstappen lead away but struggle to build up a gap to Leclerc. It was equally difficult for Sainz, who was being hounded by medium-shod Sergio Perez for the final podium place.
Perez attempted to pass Sainz on Lap 52 but locked up, both drivers avoiding contact, while Leclerc was under half a second behind Verstappen in the chase for the lead. But neither Perez nor Leclerc could make headway, and the win – narrow as it was over the Ferraris – would be Verstappen’s.
Rounding out the top five was George Russell, who started 11th and pitted during the VSC, using the benefit of newer tyres to pass teammate Lewis Hamilton on Lap 54. Hamilton lamented the fact that he couldn’t pit during the VSC but was promoted to P6 when Valtteri Bottas went wide at Turn 17 on Lap 49.
The Alfa Romeo driver seemed destined for P5 having started there, but his late mistake left him seventh. The Alpines were next, Esteban Ocon finishing eighth from Fernando Alonso in ninth – the latter having been penalized by five seconds for contact with Gasly.
Alonso was given a further five-second penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage on the penultimate lap, promoting Alex Albon to P9, Lance Stroll to P10, and demoting the two-time champion to 11th.
Kevin Magnussen retired late on after contact with Lance Stroll (P10 after having started in the pits), as did Sebastian Vettel – who started in the pits and was tapped out of the race by Mick Schumacher (P15).
Gasly did not finish after his contact with Norris (DNF), while Zhou Guanyu was the first retiree, having been pulled into the pits on Lap 7.
Despite starting on the front row, Ferrari couldn’t convert their advantage to a Miami Grand Prix win – while Max Verstappen has now made it two wins in a row.
Article by formula1.com