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Verstappen Collects Win In Miami

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, May 8 2022

Sunday’s F1 race in Miami featured decent action. (Photo courtesy of the Miami Grand Prix)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor

Many drivers predicted that Sunday’s inaugural Miami Grand Prix Formula One race in Miami Gardens, Fla. would be a dog because the make-shift track featured just one racing groove.

But to the delight of most, the event featured some very good racing – particularly between the top tier Red Bull and Ferrari teams.

The race was billed as a heavyweight battle between the series’ two points leaders – Charles Leclerc and Ferrari and Max Verstappen of Red Bull – as they had each won two of the schedule’s first four races.

And a Leclerc vs. Verstappen battle royal it was. This time, it was Verstappen who got the victory – his second in a row. His earlier wins had come in Saudi Arabia and Italy.

“It was an incredible grand prix,” Verstappen said. “Very physical as well. I think we kept it exciting until the end. It was an incredible Sunday for us.”

Leclerc, who led the championship by 27 points at the start Sunday, had won in the season-opener in Bahrain and in Australia in race three. He finished second on Sunday.

“Towards the end I though I could get Max at one point,” Leclerc said, “but today they had the advantage in terms of pace.”

Carlos Sainz finished third in his Ferrari while Sergio Perez was fourth for Red Bull.

Fifth was George Russell in a Mercedes. He was followed by teammate and seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton.

Verstappen had started the race alongside teammate Perez in the the second row behind the Ferraris of pole-sitter Leclerc and Sainz. 

But the Dutch/Belgian Red Bull driver pass Sainz just after the standing start. He then tracked down Leclerc, caught him on Lap 8 and passed the Monaco driver on the first turn on Lap 9.

Verstappen worked his way out to a 4.6-second lead over Leclerc when the Ferrari driver pitted on Lap 25. The stop as a slow one. Verstappen pitted a lap later and responded with a quick stop. With stops completed, Verstappen’s lead had jump to over 7 seconds.

On Lap 41 of 57, Pierre Gasly in a AlphaTauri and Lando Norris in his McLaren made contact to bring out a safety car. The crash sent some teams scrambling to pit and move to different tire compounds.

Verstappen, Leclerc Sainz and Perez stayed out, but suddenly tightly packed at the front of the field in that order when the safety car retired on Lap 47 of 57.

Leclerc kept the pressure on Verstappen over next seven laps but over the final three laps, pulled away to win by 3.7 seconds.

The race was conducted on a purpose-built, 19-turn, 3.36-mile street circuit around the Hard Rock Stadium where the NFL’s Dolphins play. It was a circuit that did not get much love from drivers before the race because the surface proved extremely slippery on the portions that were not rubbered-up and, hence, was making for one-groove racing. The racing turned out to be better than predicted.

The two Aston Martin cars of Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel started the race from the pits. It was discovered that their fuel was too cold. They opted to start from the pits to avoid a penalty. They had qualified 10th and 13th respectively and started last and second to last.

The only America-based team, Haas F1 Racing, had a so-so day. Mick Schumacher appeared to be on verge of collecting his first points but while running ninth, made contact with Vettel and slipped to a 15th-place finish. Kevin Magnussen finished 16th for Haas.

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, May 8 2022
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