Verstappen snatches Miami Grand Prix win from Leclerc

Verstappen snatches Miami Grand Prix win from Leclerc

May 9, 2022

Red Bull driver scores third win of the season.

Reigning World Champion Max Verstappen snatched the lead from pole-sitter Charles Leclerc early on in the race and converted it into his third win of the season, taking home the inaugural Miami Grand Prix win. Leclerc threw everything at the Dutchman but had to settle for second place, with his teammate Carlos Sainz, who started second, finishing third.

Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Pérez, meanwhile, finished fourth ahead of the ever-consistent George Russell, who kept up his record of finishing inside the top five during all of the races till date.

Russell’s teammate Lewis Hamilton finished sixth ahead of Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas, with the Alpine pair of Esteban Ocon, Fernando Alonso and Alex Albon’s Williams rounding up the points places.

Verstappen’s win puts him 19 points behind Leclerc in the Drivers’ Championship standings with Sergio Pérez in third place ahead of George Russell. Sainz’s podium finish has helped him hold on to the fifth place, ahead of seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton.

It was Leclerc who got off cleanly to get the inaugural Miami Grand Prix underway, but his teammate Sainz had a terrible start, getting overtaken by Verstappen in the first corner.

Further down, Hamilton lost two places on the opening lap, while his teammate Russell had a horrendous start, dropping down to P15.

McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo, meanwhile, made up four places, hanging on the fringes of the points in P11.

By Lap 6, the action cooled down and the grid started to settle. Hamilton soon attacked Gasly and moved up a place into P6. Haas’ youngster Mick Schumacher was also enjoying a strong start to the race, and by Lap 7 he was in the points places, holding on to P10.

The next lap saw the very first retiree of the Miami Grand Prix, with Alfa Romeo’s rookie Guanyu Zhou heading back to the pits due to a technical issue which ended his race.

Verstappen, who was chasing down Leclerc right from the start of the race, took the lead on Lap 9, when he blasted past the Ferrari on Turn 17 beside the pit straight. Leclerc just had no answer to Verstappen and Red Bull’s pace. By Lap 16, Verstappen was more than three-and-a-half seconds clear of Leclerc and was beginning to streak away from the Monégasque.

Further down the grid, Fernando Alonso, who had a decent start to the race, dropped out of the points down to P12 after a terrible pit-stop from the Alpine crew.

Leclerc came into the pits on Lap 25 and rejoined in P4. Red Bull reacted to that and brought in Verstappen the following lap. Sainz, who was P2, also came in for his stop the following lap along with Pérez. With both Sainz and Pérez pitting in the same lap, Verstappen regained the lead and was about seven-and-a-half seconds clear of Leclerc in P2.

For the next few laps, even though Verstappen maintained his lead, it was him and Leclerc who exchanged fastest laps one after the other.

What was turning out to be a dud of a race finally got some life injected into it on Lap 41, when McLaren’s Lando Norris smashed into AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly. The collision meant the Safety Car was deployed. This worked perfectly for George Russell, who enjoyed a free pit-stop without losing place. His teammate had also planned to come in but was asked by the team to stay out, which effectively ended his chances of finishing in the podium places due to having to finish the race on older tyres.

Racing resumed on Lap 47 without Norris and Gasly, both of whom couldn’t continue after their clash. As soon as the Safety Car came in, Leclerc sensed there was an opportunity to attack Verstappen and was all over the back of the Red Bull, but the reigning World Champion showed why he has the crown by brilliantly defending and holding off wave after wave of attacks from Leclerc.

While one Ferrari was attacking a Red Bull, right behind them it was the opposite, as Sergio Pérez was the one attacking Carlos Sainz. Pérez almost managed to squeeze a move past Sainz, but the Mexican went too deep and that allowed Sainz to go on the inside of Pérez and hold on to P3.

There was more action further down the grid. While Hamilton and George Russell were exchanging places in a fascinating battle between the two Mercedes, Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel, who along with his teammate had started the race from the pit lane due to a fuel issue, had managed to fight his way back up to the fringes of the points. Vettel managed to perform a double overtake on the inside of Esteban Ocon and Mick Schumacher on Lap 54, but Schumacher and Vettel came together and both drivers headed into the pits. While Schumacher resumed after a change of front wing, the damage caused to Vettel’s car meant the four-time World Champion’s race was over.

Up ahead, Leclerc fell behind Verstappen, who managed to fend off all of the Ferrari driver’s attacks and took the chequered flag on Lap 57 to win the inaugural Miami Grand Prix. The clash between Vettel and Schumacher meant Williams’ Alex Albon sneaked into the points places as well.

Verstappen’s win and a P4 finish for Sergio Pérez means Red Bull are just six points behind Ferrari in the Constructors’ Standings with 151 points, while Mercedes’ double-top-six finish puts them a good 50 points clear of McLaren in third.

After all the excitement in Miami, Formula One heads to Spain next in two weeks’ time. With Red Bull having stepped up to the challenge, it is Ferrari who will have to play catch-up. Red Bull have shown, aside from their reliability issues, that they are the faster and better car on the grid, and Ferrari know they have a lot of catching up to do if they want to be leading both the standings come the end of the season.

Aditya Chaudhuri

Hailing from the City of Joy, the things that bring me joy are cricket, a good non-tilt CS:GO session, F1 and movies.

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