July 22, 2024

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2022 Miami Grand Prix report and highlights: Verstappen wins inaugural Miami Grand Prix over Leclerc after Safety Car belated drama

2022 Miami Grand Prix report and highlights: Verstappen wins inaugural Miami Grand Prix over Leclerc after Safety Car belated drama

Max Verstappen won his first Miami Grand Prix, having snatched the lead from Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc early in the race and defended him in a captivating fight late in the race.

The Red Bull champion took the P2 defending champion Carlos Sainz into Turn 1 at the start, and quickly started getting close to Leclerc. The Ferrari driver lost the lead to his main line rival at the start of lap 9 of 57 and moved from middle to difficult on lap 24, causing Verstappen to react by stopping him two laps later. Looks like Verstappen will sprint to victory in front of the Miami Gardens marina…

READ MORE: Verstappen elated with ‘comeback’ win in Miami – but calls on Red Bull to settle for ‘hit and foul’ weekends

That was until a Lap 41 warning, the VSC turned safety car set off by a collision between Pierre Gasly and Lando Norris, causing the McLaren driver to spin as his right rear tire exploded. Perez took the opportunity to research new modes of P4, and he stood out there, with Verstappen, Leclerc and Sainz advancing.

The Lap 47 restart saw Verstappen go further but struggle to build a gap in front of Leclerc. It was equally tough for Sainz, who was chased by mid-level Sergio Perez to finish last on the podium.

Perez tried to pass Sainz on lap 52 but he shut down, the two drivers avoiding contact, while Leclerc was less than half a second behind Verstappen in the lead chase. But neither Perez nor Leclerc could make progress, and a victory – narrow as it was on Ferraris – would be a Verstappen win.

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George Russell rounded out the top five, who started 11th and pitted during VSC, using the advantage of the newer tires to pass teammate Lewis Hamilton on lap 54. Hamilton regretted that he could not play during VSC but was promoted to P6 when Valtteri Bottas went away on Turn 17 at Lap 49.

The Alfa Romeo driver looked destined for P5 after he started there, but his late error left him in seventh place. The Alps came next, with Esteban Ocon finishing eighth from Fernando Alonso in ninth – the latter being penalized by five seconds for contact with Gasly.

Alonso received an additional five-second penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage on the penultimate lap, promoting Alex Albon to P9, Lance Stroll to P10, and lowering the two-time champion’s standings to 11th.

Facts and stats: Verstappen doubles US as Russell holds fifth

2022 Miami Grand Prix: Massive contact with Vettel costs Schumacher his first points in F1

Kevin Magnussen retired late after calling Lance Stroll (P10 after he started digging), as did Sebastian Vettel – who started pits and was disqualified from the race by Mick Schumacher (p15).

Gasly did not finish after calling Norris (DNF), while Zhou Guanyu was the retired first, having been pulled into the pits on lap 7.

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Despite starting on the front row, Ferrari couldn’t convert its advantage to a win at the Miami Grand Prix – while Max Verstappen now has two wins in a row.

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as it happened

Swaying palms, A-list celebrities, the largest marina this side of Dade County—the Miami Grand Prix weekend was always on point. Now it’s time to turn off the lights in the Sunshine State.

Ferrari painted the front row red thanks to Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, with the second row belonging to Red Bulls – Max Verstappen before Sergio Perez – while Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas shared the third row with former Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton.

Driver of the Day: Verstappen gets your vote after beating Leclerc in Miami

Aston Martin had a fuel temperature problem before the race, with Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel starting from the pit lane to avoid an FIA penalty – while Esteban Ocon would start from behind due to an Alpine crash in FP2.

ominous clouds loomed, concrete walls slammed shut, and 18 drivers lined up on the grid. Amidst the sweltering heat, four drivers (Stroll, Vettel, George Russell and Ocon) began using the rigid vehicles, while the other 16 started the vehicles.

At the start Leclerc had a great start while Sainz lost to Verstappen all the way to Turn 1, Hamilton fell to eighth after locking in Turn 1 and Fernando Alonso jumped from 11th to seventh – making slight contact with Hamilton in the process.

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Leclerc held the lead at the start while Verstappen shot in second

While Leclerc was in the lead, Verstappen was just over a second behind, with Hamilton – now complaining of damage after Alonso’s Lap 1 flick – passing the Alpine driver for P7 in the lead-up to lap 11 on lap 3. Running on lap 6, take out P6 from Gasly and the seven-time champion is back where he started.

Lap 8 saw Verstappen come right into the DRS range, right on Leclerc’s tail, and the Dutchman passed the lead on the main line right at the start of lap 9. Leclerc prepared to send him off, beating Red Bull throughout the next lap – but the reigning champion was now in a commanding position.

Ferrari started to struggle. Lap 13 saw Leclerc suffer a shutdown in the 17th turn, now 2.5 seconds behind in front of Verstappen, while Perez was close to Sainz for P3.

READ MORE: Russell was happy to salvage the weekend with ‘complete luck’ strategy at ‘brutal’ Miami Grand Prix

Meanwhile, Mercedes were on the march, with Hamilton opening a gap to Pierre Gasly behind him (the Frenchman was outpacing Alonso in P7) as Russell got into hard tires and overtaken Ricciardo on lap 14. In an attempt to undermine Gasly, Alonso then instigated one lap but stopped him It lasted over five seconds, and came out 13th.

Lando Norris chose to stop soon after, David Beckham watched the 3.6sec stop as the McLaren driver appeared in 12th but fell to Aston Martins on lap 19. Two laps later, he went further into Sector 3 to come up with a short yellow flag. Towards the front, Russell was now seventh, behind Hamilton.

Russell made huge gains by staying long on solid tires

Back in the fight for the podiums, Perez was on the radio to say his “engine has stopped” and the pit wall tried to reassure the Mexican as he complained of losing power on the long straights. A sensor problem was blamed and Perez came back—but he lost a long time (and some engine power to take off) to a Sainz up front.

Hamilton was brought into the pit on lap 23, climbing up to seventh with a smooth pit stop – ahead of McLaren after Ricciardo – and giving the rest of the top ten something to respond to.

Leclerc was close to the pit, and it took 3.2secs, showing up in P4 on lap 25. This caused Verstappen to react towards the end of the next lap and to emerge in second place over his teammate Perez, leaving Sainz in the lead until the Spaniard stalled for solid compounds – Together with Perez – at the start of lap 27.

Sainz’s 5.4-second stop, however, was held by Perez with a 3.1-second stop, to reignite the fight for P3.

Then, on lap 41, Gasly – already used by Alonso in the last corner – went too far at Turn 8, rejoined and clashed with Norris, tearing the McLaren right rear tire and sending him into a spin. A virtual safety car was called, and it quickly turned into a safety car.

2022 Miami Grand Prix: Norris collides with struggling Gasly

Russell took that moment to dig for the first time, dropping from fifth to seventh, with Perez swapping for a second time with a number of others hoping to snatch positions. Hamilton was asked if he wanted to follow suit – but decided to stay outside and try to protect his P6.

Thus, a restart of Lap 47 would see Verstappen advance between Leclerc and Sainz (the top three in difficulties). Then we had a mid-range team Perez, Bottas, then Hamilton and Russell in the top seven. Alonso – who now holds a five-second penalty for contact with Gasly – led Schumacher and I’m in the back of the top 10.

Up and down Grid, the chase returned.

Perez was right on Sainz’s tail, after the Spaniard ran away on lap 48, giving the Mexican a run for the final podium finish. However, the Red Bull driver made his move on lap 52, locked him up, and caused Sainz to dodge in a avoidance. Sainz passed level P3 and completed the podium.

Perez is back in the hunt for the P3 thanks to a belated Safety Car restart, but he couldn’t quite snatch the podium

Meanwhile, fully up front, Leclerc had closed the gap within half a second, but Verstappen held on – and went on to claim his second straight win of the season by 3.786 seconds.

Russell and Hamilton had their own duel at the start of the second half. Medium tires helped Russell get close to Hamilton on lap 49, and with Bottas moving further into Turn 17, he swept both Mercedes. Russell overtook Hamilton in round 11 but had to re-position after he veered off the track. The P5 rebounded a few laps later, leaving Hamilton lamenting another unfortunate tire call on the radio.

Bottas’ late error put him in seventh, ahead of soft-tire Ocon. The Frenchman started in defense but took 12 positions on lap 37, seeded in P8 and ahead of Alonso, as the Spaniard was awarded a five-second penalty for contacting Gasly earlier.

Dropped by another five-second penalty to 11th, Alonso lifted Alex Albon from 10th to ninth after overcoming the mayhem in the final safety car restart – and Stroll to 10th from 11th.

Albon ran low until last but took the last point with the late switch to softs – and the late chaos is lower in the rankings…

Ricciardo was coping with difficulties on lap 30 and again to try a late Safety Car restart, but he couldn’t capitalize on that, finishing 12th after a penalty to leave the track and gain an advantage. That boosted Stroll to the last point.

AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda dropped out of the top ten after halfway and finished 13th, having also finished the race on the slugs – a gamble that didn’t pay off. However, Tsunoda was promoted to 12th place after the penalty shootout that followed the race in favor of Alonso and Ricciardo. That left Williams driver Latifi in P14.

Despite fighting with Tsunoda early on to get into the top ten and then again with teammate Magnussen, Schumacher was seeded in P15 thanks to a late contact with baffled Vettel, who started his race and ended in the pits.

Gasly didn’t finish the distance after calling Norris, and Zhou Guanyu was the first of five driver not to see the flag, as Alfa Romeo pulled him into the pits with a mechanical problem on lap 7.

The podium saw the top three celebrate in front of Miami Dolphins legend Dan Marino – and his statue. On this particular Sunday, it was Verstappen who ran the entire nine yards in pursuit of his second straight win, and the first Miami Grand Prix win in history.

Willie T Rips gives post-race interviews in Miami

quote key

“The grand prix was amazing – very physical too, but I think we kept it exciting until the end,” said winner Max Verstappen.

“I think I’ll stick to racing,” he said when Willy T Rips asked if he was fit enough to get into the boxing ring, “but I appreciate boxing a lot. I felt like it was right there… But yeah, very happy to win here in Miami, it was.” A great day for us.”

What’s Next?

The tournament continues in Catalonia with Spanish Grand Prix May 20-22Red Bull is now just six points behind Ferrari – and Verstappen is 19 points behind Leclerc…

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