Race Weekend Central

Max Verstappen Steals Miami Grand Prix on Tire Strategy

Max Verstappen swept Sunday’s (May 7) Formula 1 Miami Grand Prix out from under Sergio Perez with a long-game pit strategy that allowed the Dutchman to breeze by his teammate in the race’s closing laps.

This win is Verstappen’s fourth on American soil, having won the United States Grand Prix in both 2021 and 2022, and the inaugural go-round at the Miami International Autodrome last May. Verstappen extends his points lead over Perez to 14 points: 119 to Perez’s 105.

“It was a good race,” Verstappen told Sky Sports’ Jenson Button after the race.

“Stayed out of trouble in the beginning, and then just had a clean race, picked the cars off one-by-one. And then I could stay out really long on the hard tires and that’s where we, I think, made the difference today. And then a good little battle with Checo at the end. We all kept it clean and that’s the most important.”

Verstappen started the race from ninth place on the hard Pirelli tires after being caught out by a red flag in Saturday’s (May 6) qualifying session. The two-time champion stretched his initial set of rubber to lap 45, while Perez struggled for sustained pace on the softer, faster-degrading medium tires. Perez pitted for hards on lap 21, aiming to stretch from there to the end of the 57 lap race.

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Even with a fresher set of the same tire compound, Perez couldn’t consistently exceed Verstappen’s pace. Verstappen rejoined the track from his lap-45 pit stop only 1.3 seconds behind Perez, leaving the Mexican driver effectively in damage control vis-a-vis his teammate.

Despite a characteristically vicious defense from Perez, Verstappen took the lead on lap 47 and was free to waltz into the distance from there on, even setting a lap time of 1:29.708 – the first lap of the race in the 1:29 range – on his penultimate trip around the circuit. Verstappen earned an extra point by virtue of setting the fastest lap of the race, bringing his total points payout on the day to 26.

Fernando Alonso ran a lonely race to finish third, the Spaniard’s fourth third-place result in five races with Aston Martin. Alonso was expected by many to end the first lap of the race in the lead as he did in Saudi Arabia, owing to his front-row starting position alongside Perez. However, Perez made a blistering start and immediately cut off Alonso’s line on the inside, leaving the Spaniard to battle with his compatriot Carlos Sainz.

With massive gaps to the cars in front and behind, the two-time champion was able to catch a replay of his Aston Martin teammate Lance Stroll on one of the trackside monitors en route to his 102nd career podium finish.

Fourth place was George Russell for Mercedes, followed by Ferrari’s Sainz despite the latter picking up a five-second penalty for speeding in the pits. Lewis Hamilton recovered from an uncharacteristically poor qualifying performance to finish sixth and Charles Leclerc ended up seventh, just ahead of the Alpine duo of Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon.

The final point belonged to the American Haas F1 team and the Danish Kevin Magnussen, who capitalized on a fourth-place qualifying result that left him “well-chuffed.”

2023 Formula 1 Crypto.com Miami Grand Prix Race Results

The next round of the 2023 F1 calendar will take place on Sunday, May 21, from the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari. Coverage will begin at 9:00 a.m. ET on ESPN.

About the author

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Alex is the IndyCar Content Director at Frontstretch, having initially joined as an entry-level contributor in 2021. He also serves as Managing Director of The Asia Cable, a publication focused on the international affairs and politics of the Asia-Pacific region which he co-founded in 2023. With previous experience in China, Japan and Poland, Alex is particularly passionate about the international realm of motorsport and the politics that make the wheels turn - literally - behind the scenes.

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