Verstappen fends off late fight from Leclerc to win Miami Grand Prix

08-05-2022 22:07
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Verstappen fends off late fight from Leclerc to win Miami Grand Prix

Max Verstappen has won the 2022 Miami Grand Prix and cuts the deficit to Charles Leclerc in the Formula 1 World Championship. The Ferrari driver managed to limit the damage as much as possible. A late safety car gave Leclerc the chance to fight for the win, but Verstappen held on in Miami. Sergio Perez had the chance to fight for a podium, but Carlos Sainz held on despite small contact between the two drivers. 

The tight walls and lack of grip meant the threat of a safety car remained open. That occurred on lap 41 when Pierre Gasly crashed into Lando Norris which sparked the race into life. Lewis Hamilton, George Russell and Valtteri Bottas engaged in a great battle in the latter stages of the race. With fresher tyres, Russell was able to come out on top. 

Verstappen looked like he would take the win comfortably until the safety car created some excitement. Leclerc attempted to take the opportunity with both hands, but couldn't make the overtake. He went into full attack mode which would have pleased the Tifosi after a mistake last time out in Italy. Mercedes took home some good points with P5 and P6. Both Alpine drivers scored points, with Alonso leading a P8 and P9 finish. Alex Albon managed to get a single point. 

It's the first time Formula 1 has visited Miami. The sport and organisers threw a huge star-studded party with mermaids in the swimming pool and a fake marina. But the main event itself didn't live up to the hype delivered off the circuit until a late safety car lit the touch paper. With little grip off the racing line, drivers struggled to pull overtakes. DRS trains became frequent. The Ferrari cars couldn't live up to the straight-line speed that Red Bull delivered. 

At the start...

The two Aston Martin cars started from the pitlane due to a fuel issue. The temperature of their fuel was too low and therefore they opted not to put it in the car and incur a penalty. Ferrari had the front-row locked out for the first time since 2019, with Red Bull locking out the second row. 

Max Verstappen opted to attack his former teammate Carlos Sainz at the first opportunity in the opening sequence of corners. The Dutchman was successful and went on to pursue his championship rival. Lewis Hamilton and George Russell lost two and three places respectively. All drivers managed to avoid contact, apart from Fernando Alonso who slightly touched Hamilton. Crucially, by the time DRS opened up Leclerc had opened a 1.2-second gap. The five drivers on hard tyres all dropped to the back. On lap seven, Guanyu Zhou had to retire. 

On lap nine, the lead swapped around. For the first time, Verstappen got within DRS range and got close to the man from Monaco down the large straight leading to turn 17. Across the start/finish line, Verstappen completed the job. It was status quo at the front, but Perez reported some power loss on lap 20. Within a lap, the Red Bull team managed to solve the problem but it cost him almost four seconds. 

Into the pits 

The leaders took to the pits on lap 26 and lap 27. Leclerc rolled the dice first, but Red Bull reacted timely to shut off the undercut. Carlos Sainz pitted a few laps later and had a small issue in the pits. Though the Spaniard stayed ahead of Perez. 

On lap 41, Lando Norris had a crash and the safety car was deployed. Pierre Gasly was running slow and then collected Norris as he gathered speed. Hamilton opted to put on the soft tyres, with Russell opting to pit for the first time. Perez also managed to get a pitstop in for fresh mediums, but the other three front-runners didn't pit. 

Verstappen aced the restart and restarted his push to open a gap. But Leclerc kept on fighting and got close to his rival. The man from Monaco got within two-tenths but was never able to even attempt a move. Sainz and Perez also had a similar battle, but Sainz stayed ahead after some small contact. 

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