Max Verstappen took another swing towards Charles Leclerc’s advantage in the drivers’ standings after fending off Leclerc during an 11-lap shootout to win the inaugural Miami Grand Prix at Miami International Autodrome on Sunday, May 8.
The 24-year-old Dutchman, who qualified in third place behind Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, muscled his Red Bull Racing RB18 past Leclerc’s Ferrari F1-75 for the lead on Lap 9 of 57. From there, he made a one-stop pit strategy on Lap 26 work to his advantage as he led the remainder of the event. Despite the field being bunched for an 11-lap shootout following a Lap 41 on-track incident involving Pierre Gasly and Lando Norris, Verstappen managed to fend off Leclerc around the newly-designed 19-turn circuit around Hard Rock Stadium to etch his name as the first Formula One winner in Miami.
The Miami victory marked Verstappen’s second consecutive victory in recent weeks after winning the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola Circuit in late April. It also marked his second F1 victory in the United States after he won the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, last October. By winning for the third time in 2022 and for the 23rd time of his Grand Prix career, Verstappen, driving for Red Bull Racing, trails Leclerc and Ferrari by 15 points in the drivers’ standings in his pursuit to defend his world championship.
“It was an incredible Grand Prix,” Verstappen said. “Very physical as well, but I think we kept it exciting until the end. I’m incredibly happy with winning here at Miami. It was an incredible Sunday for us. A race like this is incredibly satisfying. I really think we had good pace on the medium tyre. That basically made the race because that’s where I opened up my gap because once we got on the hard tyres, we were very evenly matched. We were always trading lap times. Of course, I was not very happy that the safety car came out, but of course, these things happen at the end. You cannot do anything about it…It’s been really good. We’re closing the gap [in the championship standings]. Just a shame of our retirements [at Bahrain and Australia]. I could’ve been a lot better already in the championship, but we’ll keep hunting.”
Leclerc, who qualified on pole position on Saturday and led the first nine events of the event, settled in second place for the second time this season.
“It was a very difficult race physically,” Leclerc said. “We struggled quite a bit with the medium tyres, especially in the first stint and got overtaken. [Verstappen] made our race a bit more difficult from that moment onwards. On the hard [tyres], we were very competitive and towards the end, I thought I could get Max at one point, but today, they had the advantage in terms of pace. It was fun…We need to keep pushing. Upgrades will be very important throughout the year and I hope now we can do a step up from next race onwards. It’s been tight since the beginning of the season and that’s what we like to see.”
Meanwhile, Carlos Sainz rallied from sustaining back-to-back DNFs during the previous two Grand Prix events and from wrecking during Friday’s practice session by fending off Sergio “Checo” Perez for third place as he grabbed his third podium result of the season and the ninth of his career. Sainz’s result marked the third time this season where both Ferrari competitors stood on the podium at the conclusion of a Grand Prix event. Perez, who dealt with power issues throughout the event and who locked up his tyres on Lap 52 while trying to pass Sainz, settled in fourth place.
“I had to manage it and I fought through it, especially with Checo [Perez] at the end on the medium tyre,” Sainz said. “It was very difficult to get behind, but we managed to keep the podium, which is a decent result. It wasn’t easy at all. It’s been a tough race with the tyres. The car was sliding a lot. At the end, we got what we deserved. We just had a decent P3 and we can built it up from here. I want more, but it’s not bad.”
Finishing behind both Red Bull and Ferrari competitors were the Mercedes’ competitors of George Russell and Sir Lewis Hamilton, with Russell extending his string of top-five results through the first five scheduled Grand Prix events and in his first full-time season with the Silver Arrow team. Russell’s top-five result occurred after he managed to overtake teammate Hamilton on Lap 54.
Valtteri Bottas, who was running in the top five throughout the event until he went wide in Turn 17, fell back to seventh place for his fourth result in the points as an Alfa Romeo competitor through the first five events. Alpine’s Fernando Alonso crossed the finish line in eighth place, but was penalized five seconds for making late contact with Pierre Gasly as he was demoted to 10th place. This elevated teammate Esteban Ocon, who also rallied from wrecking during Friday’s practice session and starting at the rear of the field when he did not post a qualifying time on Saturday, to eighth place. Meanwhile, Alexander Albon benefitted from the late 11-lap shootout and a series of carnages ensuing around him to finish in ninth place and collect a couple of points for Williams Racing.
The first competitor who finished outside of the top-10 points-paying results was McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo followed by Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll, AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda and Williams Racing’s Nicholas Latifi.
Mick Schumacher, who was in position to record his first points of the season during the 10-lap shootout, fell back to 15th place after making late contact against Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel, which sent Vettel airborne while Schumacher damaged the front wing of his Haas VF-22. Vettel, who started the event in pit lane along with teammate Lance Stroll due to fuel temperature issues, retired in 17th place.
Kevin Magnussen, Schumacher’s teammate at Haas who was running outside of the top 10 in the closing laps, retired in 16th place on the final lap after making late on-track contact with Stroll.
Lando Norris retired in 19th place after spinning and making contact with the barriers between Turns 8 and 9 following contact with Gasly’s AlphaTauri AT03 on Lap 40, which punctured Norris’ right-rear tyre drew a safety car on the track. Meanwhile, Gasly would also retire in 18th place prior to the 11-lap shootout and following his share of on-track contacts.
Rookie Guanyu Zhou retired in 20th place, dead last, due to an early technical issue to his Alfa Romeo C42.
1. Max Verstappen, 26 points
2. Charles Leclerc, 18 points
3. Carlos Sainz, 15 points
4. Sergio Perez, 12 points
5. George Russell, 10 points
6. Lewis Hamilton, eight points
7. Valtteri Bottas, six points
8. Esteban Ocon, four points
9. Alexander Albon, two points
10. Fernando Alonso, one point
11. Daniel Ricciardo
12. Lance Stroll
13. Yuki Tsunoda
14. Nicholas Latifi
15. Mick Schumacher
16. Kevin Magnussen, +1 lap
17. Sebastian Vettel, +3 laps
18. Pierre Gasly – Retired
19. Lando Norris – Retired
20. Guanyu Zhou – Retired
With his runner-up result, Charles Leclerc continues to lead the drivers’ standings by 19 points over Max Verstappen, 38 over Sergio Perez, 45 over George Russell, 51 over Carlos Sainz and 68 over Lewis Hamilton.
In addition, Ferrari continues to lead the constructors’ standings by six points over Red Bull Racing RBPT, 62 over Mercedes, 111 over McLaren Mercedes, 126 over Alfa Romeo Ferrari and 129 over Alpine Renault.
Next on the 2022 Formula One schedule is Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for the Spanish Grand Prix, which will occur on May 22.