MIAMI GP – Max Verstappen comes from ninth to victory throwing down the gauntlet to teammate Sergio Perez
Max Verstappen has won the Miami Grand Prix finishing five seconds ahead of his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez. The Dutchman once again showed the strength off the Red Bull after starting ninth he was soon able to find his way through the top ten to get on the back of Perez before the first stop.
Verstappen used a different strategy to many around him going for hard tyres he ran a long opening stint only stopping for mediums with twelfth laps to go. This was a inverted strategy as many would have started on the mediums then gone to hards, but it gave him the tyre advantage which allowed him to pass Perez a lap later.
Both drivers had taken opposite strategies, with Verstappen’s revere strategy allowing him to eventually easing past the Mexican with nine laps remaining. For a long period the race seemed set for a grandstand finish as the margin remained around sixteen seconds, four seconds less than the time Verstappen would need to complete his pit stop.
The way Verstappen was able to catch and pass his teammate after starting ninth could star to raise questions about wheatear Perez can mount a serious challenge to the championship. Red Bull again looking to be in a league of their own, Fernando Alonso third twenty seconds behind Perez.
Perez attempted to defend the position on the previous lap at Turn 17, but with Verstappen now on the faster medium tyres after his pit stop and Perez on much slower 28-lap old hards, there was little the Mexican could do to prevent the pass.
The Spaniard continued his superb season for Aston Martin to take his fourth podium finish in five races with an outstanding performance of his own. The veteran two-time champion stayed impressively close to Perez in the first stint while holding off Sainz.
Verstappen said, “just had a clean race and picked the cars off one by one. I stayed out really long on the hard tyres and I think that’s what made the difference and then a good little battle with Checo at the end. Yesterday was of course a bit of a setback but today we kept it calm, kept it clean and for sure winning a race from P9 is very satisfying.”
Perez added: “I tried. I gave it my all. We had graining and initial pace wasn’t good. The medium [tyre] we had initially was poor, more than expected. It really compromised our pace and Max had tremendous pace on the hard and we will analyse what went wrong today because we simply didn’t have the pace.”
Once again proving that the team are going to be leading the fight against Red Bull this season, but still have a big gap to close if they are going to fight for wins in 2023. Red Bull have now won all five races of the 2023 season, with one-twos in four of them, and lead Aston Martin by a hundred and twenty-two points at the top of the constructors’ standings.
Alonso had at one stage battled with Carlos Sainz in the opening stint and that battle was looking close, but that battle was effetely brought to an end when Sainz was given a five-second penalty for speeding in the pit lane at his pit stop and then dropped away in the second stint to finish fifth.
Ferrari were attempting to under cut the Aston, that plan fell to pieces as Sainz locked up on pit entry in an attempt to get under the speed limit, which failed resulting in his five second penalty. As it was, on the hard tyres they switched to, Alonso had far too much pace and soon eased past Sainz, whose undercut had been successful, before simply managing his tyres to the end as he came home twenty seconds behind Perez.
Alonso finishing six tenths ahead of George Russell again showing that Mercedes has a better race car along with teammate Lewis Hamilton, who started thirteenth, spilt by the Ferrari of Sainz. Hamilton pulling of a late pass on Charles Leclerc at Florida’s Turnpike to take sixth with three laps to go, for both drivers a frustrating race stuck in traffic.
The seven-time champion also using the same off strategy to great effect to go long and finish sixth behind Sainz. while Sainz had the pace in his opening stint to fight Alonso, in the second stint the Aston was comfortably faster than Sainz and the Ferrari slipped back behind Russell in the second part of the race.
Miami has been a nightmare weekend for Leclerc, the Monacan crashing out of qualifying and then struggle to make ground up in the race he spend much of it fighting with Kevin Magnussen.
For Mercedes the new floor they brought to Miami appears to have failed to make a significant impact, and there will be huge pressure on the team to get the big upgrade right, ahead of the start of the European season at Imola in a fortnight. Ferrari also facing questions ahead of their home race at Imola about closing the gap and beating Red Bull and Aston Martin this season.
All eyes will be on Ferrari, and to a lesser extent Alpha Tauri, at the first of their two home races this season, with both team’s inconsistent start to the campaign likely to come under major scrutiny in front of the tifosi. With Ferrari fourth and Alpha Tauri eighth in the constructors.
Leclerc finally clearing the Haas after five laps, in the closing half to finish where he had started in seventh, while Magnussen lost places to the Alpine’s. Leclerc saved himself some blushes by finally overtaking Magnussen at the third attempt, having been re-passed twice before when trying to do so earlier in the race. Ferrari will be asking questions about how a customer team with a smaller budget in a straight forward race managed to beat them.
It has been a solid weekend for Alpine, Pierre Gasly finishing eighth three and a half seconds ahead of teammate Esteban Ocon, with Lance Stroll taking the final point for Aston Martin. Ocon, had snuck ahead of Magnussen in the closing stages.
The race around the Hard Rock Stadium was fairly straight forwards not the dramas we usually associate with street circuits, no VSC’s or safety cars resulting in all twenty drivers finishing the race without incident or major dramas.
Yuki Tsunoda was eleventh the Alpha Tauri driver finishing four and a half tenths ahead of Lance Stroll. In the closing stages the Japanese driver had attempted to close the gap to Magnussen, however finished the race just over a second behind the Haas.
Valtteri Bottas was thirteenth the Alfa Romeo driver finishing a second ahead of Alex Albon and Nico Hulkenberg. Guanyu Zhou was sixteenth finishing ahead of Lando Norris and Nyck De Vries, they were the final cars on the lead lap. Oscar Piastri nineteenth ahead of Logan Sargeant, who was last at his home race.