REPORT GP MIAMI 2022. Max Verstappen holds off Charles Leclerc in an exciting final and again catches up with World Cup leader

What preceded…

Formula 1 was received with much fanfare in Miami. How could it be otherwise in the United States? Concerts, superstars and even a fake marina. No expense was spared to make the first-ever Miami Grand Prix look spectacular. The only question: would the brand new circuit also provide spectacle on the track?

Ferrari seemed to feel well at home on Saturday, despite a crash by Carlos Sainz on Friday. World Cup leader Charles Leclerc took pole for his Spanish teammate, Max Verstappen had to settle for third place on the grid for his Red Bull stable mate Sergio Pérez.

How did the start go?

Great for Max Verstappen: the world champion passed Carlos Sainz on the outside to second place, Leclerc remained leader of the big train. Behind the four regular names it was a matter of watch out for Lewis Hamilton: the Mercedes driver was hit by Fernando Alonso and fell back to eighth place. However, there were no big chunks.

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How did the victory come about?

Leclerc initially held the lead but soon ran into tire problems. Verstappen had no such worries and was able to squeeze past his contemporary in the ninth lap. The Dutchman did not hesitate and gradually extended his lead, while Leclerc (due to a driver error) and fourth man Pérez (due to technical failure) lost a few seconds.

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After that it was a long wait for action. The race seemed to be slowly coming to an end, until Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) suddenly ran into problems in the last third of the GP. First, he was damaged by a collision with Fernando Alonso’s Alpine, a little later there was a bigger collision with Lando Norris (McLaren). It seemed like a misunderstanding between the two pilots, but Norris lost his rear tire in the collision and had to give up the fight.

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The safety car came onto the track, and that changed the face of the race. The top three – Verstappen, Leclerc and Sainz – did not get fresh tires, number four Pérez did. George Russell in the other Mercedes, who fell behind after a bad qualifying and start, also took full advantage: the Briton gained a lot of time and was suddenly seventh behind teammate Hamilton.

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What followed was a fight on four fronts in the last eleven rounds. Leclerc chased Verstappen, but was unable to overtake the Dutchman: Verstappen took his third victory of the year. Sainz held off the faster Pérez for third place.

George Russell knocked out his illustrious stable mate Lewis Hamilton and finished fifth after a fierce battle. Both men overtook Valtteri Bottas – who finished seventh – after a mistake by the latter. Esteban Ocon, Fernando Alonso (both Alpine) and the surprising Alexander Albon (Williams) finally took the last points after there was another late clash between Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) and Mick Schumacher (Haas).

Who distinguished himself?

In qualifying he had to settle for a place behind the Ferraris, but on Sunday it was Max Verstappen again outstanding† Sainz he took at the start, Leclerc followed a few laps later. Verstappen then also managed to keep a cool head when Leclerc tailed him in the final phase. The backlog that he ran up with his failures in Bahrain and Australia is a bit smaller again: the Dutchman still has 19 points to make up for against Leclerc.

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George Russell after the qualifiers: twelfth. George Russell after the opening lap of the race: 15th. Things looked bad for Lewis Hamilton’s young team-mate, but he played his trump card perfectly. Russell started on the hard tires and kept them alive until the safety car came on track. The Briton made up for a lot of time with his pit stop during that safety car and was also able to outsmart Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas on fresh tires. Result: fifth. Russell remains the only driver to finish in the top five in every race this season, and we take our hats off to that – even if he had luck on his side in Miami.

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To whom we also take our hats off: Alexander Albon† The British Thai appeared in Miami with a striking head of red hair, a joke he had already played in Melbourne. “I then finished in the points and in Imola, when the color started to fade, I was 11th. So now I’m doing it again, hoping to get points again,” the explanation sounded. And look: Albon finished tenth, just like in Melbourne, not at all with the Williams. Yes, like Russell, he was helped by the safety car, but he kept a cool head while riders around him didn’t. Williams and Albon have their second point of the year.

Who didn’t have their day?

The great anti-hero of the day may have been Mick Schumacher† The son of seven-time World Champion Michael is the only rider in this field to have never scored a World Cup point, and one of only two regular drivers to have failed to do so this year. Points were within reach in Miami, but a few laps before the end Schumacher threw them away with a reckless overtaking maneuver. The fact that he did that with great friend and mentor Sebastian Vettel and ended his race in the same way only makes it more painful.

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Also with Ferrari, the team that supports Schumacher, there won’t be many smiling faces. When you’re one and two on the grid, you never want to lose that race. But Max Verstappen proved too strong for both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jr. The latter can still console himself with the fact that after two zero scores he now finished a race and took a podium, but Leclerc sees his lead in the World Cup shrink again. Ferrari has to work.

Also for McLaren it was a race to quickly forget. The orange cars were not at all as strong as in the last two races. The fact that Lando Norris was knocked out of the race by Pierre Gasly did not help, of course. But Daniel Ricciardo couldn’t save the day. Even more: he finished colorless eleventh, behind a Williams. For a team that wants to win World Cups again in the long run, it has to be better.

How high was the spectacle value?

For a long time, the Miami GP was a top contender for the title in this still young season least interesting race† Then came the incident between Gasly and Norris and the accompanying safety car: that gave the large audience a nice final. But no, without that safety car this Grand Prix might not have been much. Although the organization tried very hard to make something beautiful with many American shows. Proof that even with all the money and glamor in the world you don’t necessarily get a good race, and that’s not the first time in Formula 1.

What do we remember from this race?

Charles Leclerc remains World Cup leader, but he has not received the confidence boost he needed after his poor race at Imola. Max Verstappen, on the other hand, is eight points behind the Monegask. The difference is now 19 points: can he nibble on that at the next race in Spain, in two weeks?

Miami GP results:

1. Max Verstappen (Ned/Red Bull) the 308.484 km in 1h34:24.258

2. Charles Leclerc (Mon/Ferrari) at 3.786

3. Carlos Sainz Jr (Spa/Ferrari) 8.229

4. Sergio Perez (Mex/Red Bull) 10,638

5. George Russell (GBr/Mercedes) 18,582

6. Lewis Hamilton (GBr/Mercedes) 21,368

7. Valtteri Bottas (Fin/Alfa Romeo) 25.073

8. Esteban Ocon (Fra/Alpine-Renault) 28.386

9. Fernando Alonso (Spa/Alpine-Renault) 32.128

10. Alexander Albon (Tha/Williams-Mercedes) 32,365

11. Daniel Ricciardo (Aus/McLaren-Mercedes) 35,902

12. Lance Stroll (Can/Aston Martin-Mercedes) 37,026

13. Yuki Tsunoda (Jap/AlphaTauri-Red Bull) 40.146

14. Nicholas Latifi (Can/Williams-Mercedes) 49,936

15. Mick Schumacher (Ger/Haas-Ferrari) 1:13.305

16. Kevin Magnussen (Den/Haas-Ferrari) 1 lap

17. Sebastian Vettel (GER/Aston Martin-Mercedes) on 3 laps

Fastest lap: Max Verstappen (Ned/Red Bull) 1:31.361 in the 54th lap (average 213.255 km/h)

Exercises:

Zhou Guanyu (Chn/Alfa Romeo): 7th round mechanical problem

Lando Norris (GBr/McLaren-Mercedes): crash 42nd lap

Pierre Gasly (Fra/AlphaTauri-Red Bull): mechanical problem 47th lap

World Championship standings pilots:

1. Charles Leclerc (Mon) 104 pts

2. Max Verstappen (Ned) 85

3. Sergio Perez (Mex) 66

4. George Russell (GBr) 59

5. Carlos Sainz Jr (Spa) 53

6. Lewis Hamilton (GBr) 36

7. Lando Norris (GBr) 35

8. Valtteri Bottas (Fin) 30

9. Esteban Ocon (Fra) 24

10. Kevin Magnussen (Den) 15

11. Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) 11

12. Yuki Tsunoda (Jap) 10

13. Pierre Gasly (Fra) 6

14. Fernando Alonso (Spa) 4

15. Sebastian Vettel (Ger) 4

16. Alexander Albon (Tha) 2

17. Zhou Guanyu (Chn) 1

18. Lance Stroll (Can) 1

19. Mick Schumacher (Ger) 0

20. Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) 0

21. Nicholas Latifi (Can) 0

World Championship standings constructors:

1. Ferrari 157 pts

2. Red Bull 151

3. Mercedes 95

4. McLaren Mercedes 46

5. Alfa Romeo 31

6. Alpine-Renault 28

7. AlphaTauri-Red Bull 16

8. Haas-Ferrari 15

9. Aston Martin-Mercedes 5

10. Williams Mercedes 2

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