Race Weekend Central

F1 Review: Max Verstappen Reestablishes Dominance With Brilliant Miami Win

Max Verstappen charged from ninth on the grid to win the crypto.com Miami Grand Prix, his second consecutive triumph in Miami. Verstappen, starting on hard tires, squeezed every bit of life out of them, masterfully conserving them for 46 laps before pitting for mediums, which allowed him to easily pick off Sergio Perez for the lead on lap 48 and pull away for a five-second win. 

“It was a good race,” Verstappen said. “I stayed out of trouble at the beginning, had a clean race, picked off the cars one by one and I could stay out really long on the hard tyre.”

Fernando Alonso finished third for the fourth time this season, George Russell took fourth, while Carlos Sainz overcame a five-second penalty for fifth. 

Lewis Hamilton, who failed to reach Q3 on Saturday (May 6), placed sixth after starting 13th and struggling early. Charles Leclerc came home seventh, while Alpine’s Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon finished eighth and ninth, respectively, and Kevin Magnussen, who amazed by qualifying fourth, took the final points-paying position. 

Verstappen leads Perez in the driver standings, 119 to 105, with Alonso well back of both with 75. 

See also
Mercedes Finds Silver Lining, Recovers for Double Points At Miami

In the constructor standings, Red Bull’s lead over Aston Martin ballooned to triple digits, 224 to 102.

The Race

Perez nailed the start, easily beating Alonso to turn 1, while Carlos Sainz held serve. Pierre Gasly, George Russell and Charles Leclerc all took advantage of an awful start by Kevin Magnussen, who started fourth.

Verstappen, one of the few to start on hard tires, held on to ninth through lap one and picked off Valtteri Bottas on lap 2 for eighth. 

Hometown hero Logan Sargeant pitted much earlier than expected on lap 3 to replace his front wing. 

Verstappen made a brilliant double-overtake at the end of lap 4, blasting by Magnussen and Leclerc as the Haas and Ferrari battled for sixth. The championship leader then began a charge for fifth and George Russell.

Meanwhile, up front, Perez had carved a two-second lead over Alonso, who was defending from Sainz, less than a second behind. 

Verstappen set the fastest lap on lap six as he closed into DRS range on newly minted rival Russell. Verstappen made the overtake on lap eight and was immediately in DRS range of Gasly.

Perez held form up front but communicated concern about his right-front tire.

Gasly was easy pickings on lap 10 as Verstappen zoomed by and into the top four, and it was clear that Verstappen’s sense of urgency was evident, even on hard tires.

Perez and Verstappen laid down the fastest laps on laps 12 and 13, respectively, and Perez opened up a near-three-second lead on Alonso. Verstappen was closing quickly on Sainz and was in DRS range by lap 14. 

Back in the back, Lewis Hamilton had made up no ground from starting 13th.

Perez and Verstappen again traded fastest laps, and Verstappen passed Sainz for third on lap 14 and moved into podium position. Alonso was no match for the changing Red Bull, and Verstappen blazed past the Spaniard and into second on lap 15. Verstappen had moved from ninth to second in 15 laps and made it look easy while also making Perez look nervous.

Hamilton finally seemed to settle in and was in eighth by lap 18.

Unsurprisingly, it was now clearly a battle between the Red Bulls, and by lap 17, Verstappen had trimmed the gap to under three seconds. 

On lap 18, the order was Perez, Verstappen, Alonso, Sainz, Russell, Leclerc, Ocon, Hülkenberg, Hamilton and Albon.

Verstappen set a lap 17 fastest lap and continued to apply the pressure to Perez, who was eyeballing a rear-view mirror full of his teammate. Verstappen’s deficit to Perez was evaporating quickly, and Perez pitted for hard tires on lap 21, conceding the lead to Verstappen, who then posted a fastest lap, giving him a near-four second gap over Alonso in second.  

Perez emerged from his pits in fourth, quickly dispatched Ocon for third, and was 14 seconds behind Verstappen, who had yet to pit.

Sainz passed Hülkenberg for fifth and lap 21 but was being investigated for speeding in the pits, and stewards soon decided he would have to pay the five-second penalty.  

Hamilton passed Hülkenberg for sixth on lap 23. 

Perez set fastest laps on laps 23 and 24 and was eating into Verstappen’s lead. Alonso pitted on lap 25 and came out behind Sainz, and later passed the Ferrari on lap 28. 

The looming drama at this point was when Verstappen would pit for mediums and how far behind Perez he would emerge when he did? Verstappen was keeping the gap to Perez at about 16 seconds, and Red Bull race engineers were no doubt madly calculating various scenarios for their two drivers.

Alonso got by Ocon, who had yet to pit, for third on lap 29, and was a distant 12 seconds back of Perez. 

Red Bull informed Verstappen to push in order to come out in front of Alonso when, in fact, Red Bull chose to pit. Verstappen duly set a fastest lap on lap 32. 

On lap 32, the order was Verstappen, Perez, Alonso, Sainz (yet to serve his penalty), Ocon, Hamilton, Russell, Hülkenberg, Tsunoda and Gasly.

Hamilton let the faster Russell by on lap 33 for sixth, unleashing Russell to attack Sainz and Ocon. Russell passed Ocon for fifth on lap 36, then was quickly by Sainz on lap 38.

Verstappen set a lap 35 fastest lap, still on his original hard tires. Perez responded with a fastest lap on his newer hard tires on lap 36. 

Hülkenberg set a fastest lap on new medium tires on lap 39, which had to be encouraging to Verstappen, who was nearing a pit stop for mediums and an assault on Perez’s resulting lead.  

Hamilton made his first pit stop on lap 38 for medium tires, struck quickly to overtake Ocon and move into ninth.

Verstappen extended the gap to Perez to over 18 seconds by lap 42, and the advantage would clearly be in the Dutchman’s hands once he was gifted with fresh medium tires. Barring a disastrous pit stop, this was Verstappen’s race to lose.  

Verstappen was called in to box on lap 46, and came out less than a second behind Perez. Perez increased the gap marginally while Verstappen’s tires warmed up. Verstappen had 10 laps to be patient, but no one’s ever characterized him as such, and Verstappen blitzed his teammate into the outside of turn 1 on lap 48. Verstappen was quickly out of Perez’s DRS range and well on his way to extending his championship lead.

Meanwhile, Leclerc in seventh was chasing Gasly for sixth, while Hamilton was trying to get into striking distance of Leclerc. Leclerc made the pass on lap 53 as Gasly locked up his brakes. Then Hamilton slipped by Gasly and set sail on Leclerc with four laps remaining. Hamilton overtook Leclerc on lap 55 to move into sixth.

Alonso was comfortably in third, eight seconds ahead of Russell, and eyeing his fourth third in five races. 

For good measure, Verstappen went 1:29.7 on lap 56 to secure the extra point for fastest lap and crossed the line over five seconds ahead of his teammate.

The Good

Maybe this category should be titled Too Good, because that’s what Red Bull is. The prospect of an undefeated Red Bull season that once seemed like a possibility now seems like an inevitability. 

Also, you can’t ignore what Alonso has done so far this season, joining Verstappen and Perez on the podium for the fourth time. In a hypothetical world without Red Bulls, Alonso could very well be a five-time race winner.

Honorable mention: Mercedes looked out of sorts in Saturday’s qualifying, with Russell grabbing the sixth spot on the grid, while Hamilton didn’t even make it to Q3. So, Mercedes has to be quite pleased with Russell’s fourth and Hamilton’s sixth. 

The Bad

The first time I heard McLaren drivers Lando Norris’ and Oscar Piastri’s name mentioned on race day was when they were introduced by rap legend LL Cool J. That was also the last time I heard their names mentioned. Norris and Piastri qualified 16th and 19th, respectively, and finished 17th and 19th, respectively. So you can say McLaren basically went nowhere in the race.

And let’s give props to Charles Leclerc for his performance on Sunday. Not because of his race result of seventh, but because Sunday was the only day of the Miami weekend in which Leclerc didn’t spin. 

The Disappointing

Guenther Steiner and Haas had to be dreaming of something special after Kevin Magnussen dazzled by qualifying fourth. But a horrible start by Magnussen saw him lose three places right off the bat, and Steiner may have lost three years off his life while also adding to his already impressive list of profanities. Magnussen finished a disappointing 10th.  

To be clear, Haas’ expectation for Magnussen was in no way a podium finish and probably would have been elated with a top si. But a 10th after starting fourth had to be painful. 

The treatment of Jackie Stewart: Let’s not forget the spectacle that took place before the race, when three-time world champion, Scottish icon, and tartan cap-wearing Stewart slipped by security so he could tell 20-time tennis Grand Slam winner Roger Federer to come over and talk to Martin Brundle. For one thing, how the heck is a three-time Formula 1 world champion not given the same access as Federer at a Formula 1 race? That’s akin to letting Stewart sit in the umpire’s chair at Centre Court at Wimbledon while not allowing Federer into the stadium.   

See also
Max Verstappen Steals Miami Grand Prix on Tire Strategy

The Driver

Can it be anyone other than Verstappen? Verstappen was brilliant from start to finish and was aggressive when the opportunity presented itself (for example, simultaneously passing both Magnussen and Leclerc on lap four as the Haas and Ferrari drivers battled each other), and patient when necessary, calmly managing his hard tires, and not rushing to pass Perez once Verstappen’s Red Bull was fitted with fresh medium tires.

It was a statement victory for Verstappen, as the Dutch kingpin silenced his critics and emphatically reestablished the order at Red Bull (there’s a clear No. 1 and a clear No. 2), while silencing, for now, any insinuation that the pecking order is 1A and 1B.

The Results: crypto.com Miami Grand Prix, Miami International Autodrome, Miami, Florida (Sunday, May 7)

11Max VerstappenRED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT571:27:38.24126
211Sergio PerezRED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT57+5.384s18
314Fernando AlonsoASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES57+26.305s15
463George RussellMERCEDES57+33.229s12
555Carlos SainzFERRARI57+42.511s10
644Lewis HamiltonMERCEDES57+51.249s8
716Charles LeclercFERRARI57+52.988s6
810Pierre GaslyALPINE RENAULT57+55.670s4
931Esteban OconALPINE RENAULT57+58.123s2
1020Kevin MagnussenHAAS FERRARI57+62.945s1
1122Yuki TsunodaALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT57+64.309s0
1218Lance StrollASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES57+64.754s0
1377Valtteri BottasALFA ROMEO FERRARI57+71.637s0
1423Alexander AlbonWILLIAMS MERCEDES57+72.861s0
1527Nico HulkenbergHAAS FERRARI57+74.950s0
1624Zhou GuanyuALFA ROMEO FERRARI57+78.440s0
174Lando NorrisMCLAREN MERCEDES57+87.717s0
1821Nyck De VriesALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT57+88.949s0
1981Oscar PiastriMCLAREN MERCEDES56+1 lap0
202Logan SargeantWILLIAMS MERCEDES56+1 lap0

About the author

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

Share via