Max Verstappen won his debut race at the Miami GP, putting up with a crazy final stage where Charles Leclerc tried to attack first place after a Safety Car caused by Lando Norris’ retirement. The fight for third place also lasted until the last lap, with Carlos Sainz defending the podium position from Sergio Pérez’s attacks.
Verstappen finished the first Miami GP without fail, then overtook Leclerc on lap 9. He regained 8 championship points from his opponent and won for the second race in a row.
Mercedes won the “second pack”, after Valtteri Bottas – who spent much of the race in fifth place unopposed – made a mistake in the final laps and allowed the two drivers of Brackley’s team to lead the rest of the pack, with George Russell ahead of Lewis Hamilton.
In a race that was being lukewarm, the accident between Pierre Gasly and Lando Norris, which resulted in the British rider leaving McLaren, and the entry of the Safety Car gave the Miami race a lot of fun. Verstappen came under pressure from Leclerc and Pérez tried everything to overtake Sainz. The positions didn’t change, but suddenly it seemed as if everything could change from one turn to another. A good operation from Max Verstappen, who was the first driver in 2022 to win consecutively.
The strategy of George Russell and Mercedes, taking the hard tires from the start to the Virtual Safety Car, as well as Esteban Ocon and Alpine, paid off. Ocon stayed inside the top 10 and on soft tires for the last 11 laps, after an excellent recovery during the race. The Frenchman’s work is to be commended.
The Mercedes Briton fell behind his teammate in seventh after coming out of the pit on his only pit stop, but had luck on his side – as did Lewis Hamilton in this particular – after Valtteri Bottas made a mistake and raced inside and out. off the track, the position with his teammate, which gave a different color to the race at that time.
Hamilton did everything he could, but again in the Safety Car period he was caught. The team could have made the call to the pitstop, but they stuck to the middle ground and missed the opportunity again.
Valtteri Bottas had almost no opposition during the race, but when he was under pressure from the two Mercedes, he missed and missed a beautiful opportunity to be the best of the “remaining”. He was in “no man’s land” the entire race and was overtaken by Russell and Hamilton at the worst possible time, with just a few laps to go.
Fernando Alonso made a very good start again and climbed a lot in the standings, but he was unfortunate in his attempt to overtake Pierre Gasly – a situation that was at the root of the accident between the Frenchman and Norris – and for that reason he was penalized with 5 seconds. Still, he managed to maintain a position within the top 10, which has only happened once in previous races.
The last big highlight goes to Alexander Albon. In the initial phase of the race it didn’t seem possible to reach the scoring positions, but Williams and the driver surprised again and with some luck in the mix, added the second point for the championship, while Nicholas Latifi was behind.
Lando Norris’ stop did not go well for McLaren. The pilot left in a “mini platoon” and was unable to regain the positions he had lost. The time he lost behind these cars without being able to overtake the opponents put his race in jeopardy. He didn’t move from 15th place for several laps and when he did, he was unlucky with the touch of Pierre Gasly that led to his retirement from the race. Daniel Ricciardo, on the other hand, did not manage to reach the points, but a little because of the position achieved in qualifying. A pointless race for McLaren, who seemed to be improving at this stage of the season.
Lance Stroll was warned again for zigzagging down the straight. A behavior that has already happened this time. The Canadian driver was always a little faster than his teammate and led the “mini” peloton that was created with Aston Martin and Haas cars, but the race would always be difficult, as was Sebastian Vettel after to pull out of the pitlane.
Yuki Tsunoda was caught in the confusion of the Safety Car and the stops and was out of the points, but with a lot of advantage for Latifi.
Mick Schumacher could have been celebrating the first points of his career, but after touching Vettel, who threw both of them out of the race, he lost all possibilities. Kevin Magnussen was a few holes below what we’ve seen him do before.
The two Aston Martin cars started from the pitlane. Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll did not take their places on the grid, with fuel problems on the AMR22.
All riders started on medium tyres, except Lance Stroll, Sebastian Vettel, George Russell, Nicholas Latifi and Esteban Ocon who chose the hardest compound to start the race.
Leclerc got off to a good start, a move that was not imitated by Carlos Sainz, who saw Max Verstappen leap into second place. Sergio Pérez kept fourth place and Valtteri Bottas fifth. Pierre Gasly managed to move up to sixth place and Fernando Alonso got off to a great start again, moving to seventh place.
Lewis Hamilton had not managed to regain Alonso’s position, but on the third lap he managed to move to seventh and the Alpine Spaniard dropped to eighth. George Russell lost 3 positions on the first lap and took fifteenth place. We remember that the Brit had hard tires fitted.
Hamilton, who had been touched by Alonso between Turns 1 and 2, complained to the team that he felt some damage to his left rear wheel. However, whatever he felt, it wasn’t enough to delay overtaking Pierre Gasly. The Brit from Mercedes jumped to sixth place, with Bottas having some advantage ahead of him.
Mick Schumacher got the better of Yuki Tsunoda on lap 6 and moved up to tenth. At about the same time, Alfa Romeo called Guanyu Zhou to the pit to retire. An unlucky weekend for the pilot.
At the start of the ninth lap, Verstappen was “glued” to the back of Leclerc’s Ferrari and managed to overtake the Monegasque under braking for Turn 1. The Ferrari’s tires appeared to be more degraded than the Red Bull’s.
On lap 11, Daniel Ricciardo overtook Tsunoda for 12th at turn 1. The AlphaTauri driver was the first driver to stop to change from medium to hard tyres, leaving George Russell behind Ricciardo’s McLaren.
Sergio Pérez wanted to emulate his teammate and overtake a Ferrari, in this case Carlos Sainz, but the Spanish Ferrari driver seemed to guard his tires better than Leclerc and made the Red Bull driver’s job more difficult. Up front, Verstappen increased the lead to Leclerc.
McLaren stopped Lando Norris, but the Briton came out among a group of drivers with very short margins. It was them, Lance Stroll, Sebastian Vettel and Kevin Magnussen and they managed to overtake the McLaren driver. Shortly afterward, Norris’ MCL36 appears to have suffered a minor hydraulic failure, not allowing the pilot to turn properly and lost new position to Mick Schumacher. At the end of two laps, Norris was in 16th position among drivers all on hard tyres.
Pérez complained of lack of power and after a little debate with the engineer, the team asked the Mexican to reset the car in progress. The Mexican couldn’t get to the back of Sainz’s Ferrari.
On lap 23, Lewis Hamilton stopped and only managed to lose the position to his teammate, who had not stopped yet, keeping ahead of Daniel Ricciardo who still had his McLaren on medium tyres.
Of the leading riders, Leclerc was the first to stop, switching from medium to hard tires on lap 24. The Monegasque returned to the track in fourth place, ahead of Valtteri Bottas who was in a kind of “no man’s land”. Two laps later it was Verstappen’s turn to stop, returning to the track ahead of his teammate Sergio Pérez.
Carlos Sainz stopped on lap 27 and Pérez followed the Spaniard. The Ferrari mechanics had some difficulty fitting the right front tire and the driver lost some time to his direct opponent in the fight for third place.
Until lap 30, only Daniel Ricciardo was on track with medium tyres. When he stopped, he returned to the track in 17th place.
Sebastian Vettel again made a good pass – he had already done it in the opening laps to Nicholas Latifi – this time to Kevin Magnussen, but later on he lost the position, as well as the place to second Haas de Schumacher.
However, Max Verstappen was collecting fast laps until Charles Leclerc set the best time.
In the field of 5 cars between 11th and 16th, Stroll kept ahead of the two Haas – Schumacher passed Magnussen in a somewhat consensual maneuver – but Sebastian Vettel made a mistake and allowed Lando Norris to pass.
At turn 40, Fernando Alonso tried to overtake Pierre Gasly at turn 1. There was a touch between them and the Frenchman lost that position and even to Lance Stroll who was coming further back. The French pilot’s AlphaTauri was not in the best condition, which may explain the touch shortly after with Lando Norris, who forced the Brit to withdraw. The collision between Alonso and Gasly resulted in a 5 second penalty for the Spanish driver.
Taking advantage of the Virtual Safety Car first and then the Safety Car, several drivers stopped to change tires. George Russell still stopped in the VSC and dropped to seventh and Esteban Ocon, who mounted the soft tires with 15 laps to go in the race, gained a lot of positions stopping just at this point.
At the front no one stopped, except Sergio Pérez, who mounted new medium tires and had a very good opportunity to be able to reach the podium in the final laps.
At the restart of the race, Pérez was unable to overtake Sainz, with the Spaniard defending his position with everything he had. Further back, Ocon was trying to take advantage of the new soft tires to overtake Mick Schumacher for ninth place, but the Haas driver also defended his two points as best he could.
While Lewis Hamilton was pressured by his teammate George Russell, Valtteri Bottas, who was ahead of the two, missed and slightly hit the protective wall of the circuit and lost two positions just at once. Further on, Russell overtook Hamilton, not without him putting up a fight.
Braking for Turn 1 on lap 52, Pérez almost managed to overtake Sainz, but had to widen the course as he failed to brake and was unable to succeed.
Until the end it was a tremendous struggle in the field for the scoring positions, with Mick Schumacher exaggerating in his attempt to overtake Sebastian Vettel and crashing violently into his compatriot’s AMR22, which resulted in his retirement. Kevin Magnussen was also out of the race, still being classified in 16th place.
The two Mercedes drivers still exchanged positions again, but Russell did not give up and even managed to finish the race in fifth place, ahead of Hamilton.
Bottas had to settle for seventh, ahead of Esteban Ocon – great race – and Fernando Alonso. Alexander Albon repeated Australia’s place and scored one point.