Max Verstappen wins Miami Grand Prix after holding off late Charles Leclerc attack

A late safety car set up an exciting finish after what had been an uneventful race

Philip Duncan
Sunday 08 May 2022 22:08
Comments

Max Verstappen survived a late onslaught from Charles Leclerc to win Formula One’s inaugural Miami Grand Prix.

The world champion started third, but raced past Carlos Sainz at the opening bend before taking Leclerc in the other Ferrari on lap nine.

A 10-lap shootout following a safety car period provided a dramatic end, but Verstappen held his nerve. Leclerc took the runner-up spot with Sainz completing the podium.

Sergio Perez took fourth ahead of George Russell. Lewis Hamilton started sixth and finished in the same position after he was usurped by a freshly-shod Russell with nine laps to run.

“Strategy has not been kind to me, man,” he said over the radio. Russell has now finished ahead of Hamilton at every race bar one, with the seven-time world champion 68 points behind Leclerc after just five rounds.

The stars of sport and showbiz flocked to Florida for F1’s first race at the Hard Rock Stadium, 24km (15 miles) north of central Miami.

NBA great Michael Jordan, Grand Slam champions Serena and Venus Williams, former England captain David Beckham, Hollywood’s Matt Damon and pop star Pharrell Williams led the cast on a celebrity-fuelled and manic pre-race grid.

But when the lights flicked from red to green, the initial action on track provided less entertainment.

Hamilton has won six times and sealed two of his seven titles in the land of the free. But those triumphs will feel like a distant memory for Briton’s record-breaking star.

Hamilton’s Mercedes is no longer F1’s tour de force, and by lap 20 he was already half a second behind Verstappen.

Hamilton’s getaway was strong, drawing alongside former teammate Valtteri Bottas on the short run to the opening chicane.

But Hamilton locked up, losing a spot to Pierre Gasly before Fernando Alonso’s front right wheel made contact with Hamilton’s left rear at the opening chicane.

“I’ve been hit from behind,” said Hamilton. His race engineer Peter Bonnington replied: “I don’t think we have suffered any damage.”

Hamilton fought his way back past Alonso on lap three to move up to seventh. Three laps later, he roared past Gasly for sixth, a dozen seconds behind Leclerc.

Up front the lead changed hands at the start of lap nine when Verstappen drew alongside Leclerc on the pit straight before roaring past his championship rival.

The race plateaued before suddenly coming to life with 16 laps left when Lando Norris and Gasly collided.

Gasly ran wide at Turn 8 and Norris sensed an opportunity in their duel for 13th, but the pair banged wheels with the young Briton sent into a high-speed pirouette as his right rear tyre fell off his McLaren.

Out came the safety car, with Russell, who had yet pit for new rubber, able to take effectively a free stop.

That promoted him to seventh, a place behind Hamilton, who was on 24-lap old rubber when the safety car came in.

Bottas ran wide at Turn 8, enabling Hamilton to move up one spot, but he could not keep Russell, on fresh tyres, behind. The two Mercedes cars fought for position, but Russell made the move to deal Hamilton another blow on a season proving unforgettable for the grid’s most decorated driver.

Bottas finished seventh, with double world champion Alonso eighth. Mick Schumacher was denied his first points in F1 following a late collision with Sebastian Vettel.

Miami Grand Prix top 10

1) Max Verstappen

2) Charles Leclerc

3) Carlos Sainz

4) Sergio Perez

5) George Russell

6) Lewis Hamilton

7) Valtteri Bottas

8) Fernando Alonso

9) Esteban Ocon

10) Alex Albon

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in