Max Verstappen makes subtle dig at Lewis Hamilton
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Red Bull ace Max Verstappen closed to within 19 points of Charles Leclerc at the Formula 1 summit after winning the inaugural Miami Grand Prix on Sunday. The Dutchman became the first driver this season to win consecutive races and now boasts more victories than his Ferrari counterpart despite sitting second.
Leclerc and team-mate Carlos Sainz closed out the front row in Florida after finishing fastest in qualifying. However, Verstappen overtook Sainz at the first turn and used his DRS boost to assume the lead on Lap 7, which he held for the remainder.
A late Safety Car was called after Lando Norris collided with Pierre Gasly on Lap 41, setting the stage for a frantic finish in the Miami heat. Lewis Hamilton managed to ovetake former Mercedes partner Valtteri Bottas in the closing stages but still finished sixth, just behind partner George Russell.
Drivers had complained about the track conditions on display for the first race of its kind in Miami, giving organisers food for thought before F1 returns to this venue. Fans nonetheless enjoyed an entertaining showdown, but certain drivers fared far better than others in their first visit to the Hard Rock Stadium.
Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes: 7
An impressive enough performance for Hamilton considering he had a hungry Bottas to contend with for pretty much the duration. Started sixth on the grid and maintained that position through to the conclusion, though he came off second-best among Mercedes drivers.
George Russell – Mercedes: 8
Even though the decision to stay out on his original set of tyres paid dividends when a late Safety Car emerged, Russell did superbly to snag fifth. Overtook his team-mate on two occasions but only one was legal, rising from a 12th-place start to claim a valuable 10-point haul.
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Charles Leclerc – Ferrari: 7
A late spark proved too little, too late for the standings leader, even after the Safety Car bunched the field together. Failing to display the same DRS mastery as rival Verstappen, the pole-sitter will be disappointed to settle for second.
Carlos Sainz – Ferrari: 8
Carlos Sainz had his own personal war to fight after Red Bull’s Sergio Perez made consistent moves to take third place on the podium. The Spaniard deserves additional praise, however, considering Perez’s late pit for new tyres should have given him the keys to overtake.
Max Verstappen – Red Bull: 9
Many fans voted for the victor as F1’s Driver of the Day, and for good reason considering Verstappen’s confident display from the front. It didn’t contain the same drama as Saudi Arabia, but this was a display befitting of a reigning world champion.
Sergio Perez – Red Bull: 6
‘Checo’ failed to gain the necessary ground on Sainz just ahead of him and finished fourth for the second time this season. It wasn’t for a lack of trying, but Perez’s tyre advantage really should have led to podium points.
Lando Norris – McLaren: 4
Neither Norris nor Gasly finished Sunday’s race thanks to a crash that was undoubtedly the fault of the latter. That being said, the McLaren driver hadn’t looked all that threatening prior to the clash.
Daniel Ricciardo – McLaren: 6
An 11th-place finish for Daniel Ricciardo looks good on paper, especially when considering he started 14th on the grid. That feat looks even better when one considers he lacked Norris’ support for the final third of the race, not to mention he suffered a five-second penalty.
Fernando Alonso – Alpine: 7
Another driver who was penalised on Sunday, Fernando Alonso overcame the setback to place ninth and match his best result of the year so far.
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Esteban Ocon – Alpine: 8
An accident during the final practice session meant Alpine’s Esteban Ocon didn’t take part in qualifying and started Sunday’s race in dead last. That didn’t prevent the Frenchman beaming through the field to take eighth in what was a remarkable day’s work.
Pierre Gasly – AlphaTauri: 3
The ‘other man’ in that Norris collision, Gasly’s lack of awareness while re-entering the track resulted in not only his race ending. Despite starting seventh on the grid, the AlphaTauri driver was 14th at the time of the tip.
Yuki Tsunoda – AlphaTauri: 5
The weekend started brightly for Yuki Tsunoda, but that early promise eventually gave way to a familiarly flat feeling. Finished 13th to leave AlphaTauri without any points to show for their troubles.
Lance Stroll – Aston Martin: 5
Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll just about made the cut-off for the top 10 in qualifying but couldn’t hang onto that status come race’s end. A third 12th-place finish of the year leaves the Canadian on a single point thus far in 2022.
Sebastian Vettel – Aston Martin: 6
Sebastian Vettel wore underwear outside his racesuit in protest against the FIA’s recent ban on certain garments this week, but his Miami display was anything but pants. Looked to be on course for a top-10 finish before a late clash with Mick Schumacher sent him back.
Alexander Albon – Williams: 8
It’s not often Williams see points, but when they do, it tends to be because Alexander Albon is up to something. An outstanding performance to take 10th despite lining up in 18th at the start.
Nicholas Latifi – Williams: 7
It’s 14th, but it’s still Nicholas Latifi’s best result of the F1 season so far. All the more impressive considering he started in 19th, albeit with three DNFs to help his plight.
Valtteri Bottas – Alfa Romeo: 8
Came so close to beating former team-mate Hamilton, a dream that ended after a turn that went all too wide in the closing laps. However, Bottas takes extra points due to the fact his team-mate exited the race effectively at the start.
Zhou Guanyu – Alfa Romeo: N/A
Technical problems meant what was initially a promising run ended all too early for Zhou Guanyu, who took his leave on Lap 7.
Kevin Magnussen – Haas: 5
The only driver in the field to make three pits stops, Kevin Magnussen held his pace from qualifying to finish in P16, exactly where he started. Contact with Stroll almost turned into a far worse incident, but he eventually made it across the line.
Mick Schumacher – Haas: 4
Still in search of his maiden F1 points, Schumacher gets points taken off an already underwhelming display for causing a crash that derailed Vettel’s bid for points.
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