Max Verstappen has made it two Grand Prix wins in a row after taking out the inaugural Miami Grand Prix as Red Bull looks the close the gap on Ferrari.
As has been the case through the early part of the season, Red Bull and Ferrari have been the two teams at the top. It was no different in Miami with Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz starting in first and second after strong results in qualifying with Verstappen and teammate Sergio Perez starting in third and fourth.
Verstappen’s trademark aggression was on full display from the moment the race began, getting the inside line of Sainz and then breaking late to get ahead of the Spaniard on turn one.
From their Verstappen stalked race leader Leclerc, slowly making up ground on him until he made his move at the end of lap eight, going into lap nine. Benefitting from DRS, the reigning World Champion was able to close the gap between him and then make his move on the pit straight using the DRS again to speed past him and into first place heading into turn one.
Once in the lead there appeared no catching the Dutchmen, who went about extending the gap between him and Leclerc to more than four seconds, meaning the Ferrari driver was unable to use DRS as he was not within one second.
This paid dividends as it meant Ferrari were unable to execute an undercut and this showed when Verstappen pitted on lap 27 with him coming out still ahead of Leclerc by a healthy margin.
With a safety car being deployed later in the race on lap 41, following Lando Norris bailing out of the race with a puncture, this allowed Leclerc a chance at getting ahead of Verstappen. Racing recommenced at the end of lap 46, heading into lap 47 however Verstappen was able to hold onto his lead.
Leclerc did not make life easy for the Red Bull driver staying on his tail for an extended period until Verstappen was eventually able to stretch the gap to more than a second during the final laps of the race to win the Grand Prix.
To make the victory even sweeter, Verstappen also had the fastest lap, therefore earning maximum points.
Red Bull was unable to have a double podium finish with teammate, Perez finishing in fourth place despite making a large charge on Sainz who finished third.
With the win Verstappen remains in second place in the Driver Standings with 85 points, however is still a considerable way behind Leclerc who leads on 104.
Red Bull are however right on the tail of Ferrari in the Constructors Standings, now just six points behind on 151 points to 157.
With five races completed Verstappen and Leclerc appear to be in a league of their own this season with the Dutchmen having won the three races he’s seen the checkered flag, while Leclerc has finished first or second in four of the five races.
Ricciardo out of the points again
The Miami Grand Prix marked a historic weekend for Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo, with it being his 215th race, therefore equalling Mark Webber for the most Formula 1 races by an Australian. It however will not be one that Ricciardo will have fond memories of with him and McLaren continuing to struggle.
Following a poor result in qualifying which saw him starting in 14th, the Australian made a positive start to the Grand Prix, moving up to 11th on the opening lap. This was however short lived with soon both Haas drivers, Mick Schumacher and Kevin Magnussen who he had previously overtaken getting back ahead of him, seeing him tumble down to 13th.
Having started the race on the hard compound tyres, Ricciardo was able to remain out longer before pitting, with him getting as high as 8th. Being one of the last drivers to pit, when he finally did on lap 31 the result was not good, coming out in 17th place with a lot of work to do through the final 26 laps.
Ricciardo was able to make some moves during this time climbing up the grid as well as being aided by the likes of Magnussen, Sebastian Vettel and Pierre Gasly all retiring to finish the race in 11th, just out of the points.
Post-race Ricciardo was given a five-second time penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage meaning he fell down to 13th.
Ricciardo still remains in 11th place in the Driver Standings having scored just 11 points through the first five races of the year. At this point last season Ricciardo had 24 points having scored in four of the five races.
The one positive for McLaren from Ricciardo’s performance was that he was able to finish the race but the same cannot be said for his teammate Lando Norris. Norris who began the race in eighth had disaster strike on lap 41 when he was forced out of the race following an incident with Pierre Gasly.
Gasly went wide and off the track on turn eight and as he re-entered back onto the track did not see Norris coming past him on the inside. Gasly’s car clipped Norris’ back right tyre resulting in a puncture with the wheel flying off, sending the McLaren spinning in circles.
The incident resulted in Norris being out of the race and a safety car.
Despite the poor result in Miami McLaren remain in fourth place in the Constructor Standings on 46 points, however the gap between them and third placed Mercedes is 49 points.
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Russell’s strong form continues
George Russell’s luck continued in Miami with him able to beat out fellow teammate Lewis Hamilton again. Russell finished the race in fifth place while Hamilton was one place behind him in sixth following some luck going the way of Russell.
Just like in Melbourne for the Australian Grand Prix, Russell benefitted from the timing of the safety car, having yet to pit. The British driver had struggled early after qualifying in 12th place, falling as low as 15th during the early parts of the Grand Prix.
Russell however turned his fortunes around climbing back up the grid as other drivers started pitting to get as high as fifth place. When Norris crashed on lap 41, Mercedes and Russell seized the opportunity sneaking into the pits and coming out in seventh place, avoiding the position loss which usually occurs with a pit stop.
With Russell in seventh and Hamilton in sixth the pair soon move past former Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas on lap 50 after the Finnish driver went wide. From there the two Mercedes battled one another constantly switching positions until Russell who was on the fresher tyres was able to get ahead of Hamilton and stay there to finish fifth.
Russell continues his solid start to life at Mercedes having now finished in the top six in all races so far this season to sit in fourth place in the Driver Standings on 59 points. Hamilton has been unable to have the same fortunes having only scored 36 points so far this season.
Alpine in the points
Having been unable to take part in qualifying after crashing during the third practice session, Alpines Esteban Ocon showed why last season the team signed him to a long term deal, climbing from the bottom of the grid into the points.
With Aston Martin starting both their cars from the pits due to fuel changes, Ocon began the race in 18th place. By the end of the race, Ocon had climbed the most places finishing in eighth place to earn four points.
Fellow Alpine driver Fernando Alonso who began the race in 11th scored in points originally finishing in ninth place but was penalties post-race for leaving the track to gain an advantage. This sent the Spaniard out of the points instead finishing in 11th, with Alex Albon being promoted up to ninth.
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