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Verstappen comes from 9th on grid to win Miami GP

By AFP - May 08,2023 - Last updated at May 08,2023

Race winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing celebrates on the podium during the F1 Grand Prix of Miami in Miami, Florida, on Sunday (AFP Photo by Mark Thompson)

MIAMI GARDENS, Florida — World champion Max Verstappen powered from ninth on the grid to beat teammate Sergio Perez and extend Red Bull’s all-conquering start to the season with victory at the Miami Grand Prix on Sunday.

The win — Red Bull’s fifth from five races this season — extends Verstappen’s lead at the top of the standings to 14 points and follows his triumph in the inaugural Miami race last year.

The 1-2 for Red Bull is their fourth in five races so far this year as the team utterly dominate the sport leaving their rivals to battle for the third podium position.

Aston Martin’s Spanish veteran Fernando Alonso took third for his fourth podium in five races this season as he continues to enjoy his late career revival.

Verstappen had to work hard for his third victory of the campaign after his disappointing performance in Saturday’s qualifying left him in the middle of the grid.

But the speed of the Red Bull car, combined with smart decisions on tyres, meant that the Dutchman was able to quickly get himself in contention and then produce a late surge to beat his teammate Perez, who remains second in the standings.

Perez, starting on pole, made the perfect start, racing clear of his rivals but Verstappen, on hard tyres, quickly moved through the field and took just 15 laps to reach second place behind his teammate.

 

‘Very satisfying’

 

Perez pitted on lap 20 allowing Verstappen to take the lead but the Dutchman had to give that up when he went into the pits on lap 46, changing to the medium compound tyres and coming out 1.2 seconds behind.

It took just two laps for Verstappen, who won the inaugural Miami Grand Prix a year ago, to take advantage of his fresher tyres with better grip as, after a brief joust, he overtook the Mexican, on 25-lap-old tyres, to take the lead.

Verstappen’s 38th win for Red Bull equals the team record set by Sebastian Vettel and is the first time a driver has won from exactly ninth on the grid since Niki Lauda at the French Grand Prix in 1984.

“I took the cars off one by one and then I could stay out really long on the hard tyres and that’s where we I think made the difference,” said Verstappen.

“For sure winning a race from P9 is always very satisfying,” he said.

It was a disappointing day for Perez, who after his victory in Baku last week, had a great chance to win from pole but was left frustrated with the tyre choice.

“I think the medium initially was really poor. It wasn’t expected and that really compromised our pace,” said Perez.

“Then, in all honesty, I think Max had tremendous pace on that hard tyre and I have got to analyse what happened today because we simply didn’t have the pace,” he added.

Mercedes had some consolation at the end of a difficult week with George Russell taking fourth place ahead of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and teammate Lewis Hamilton finishing sixth.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff had described the car as a “nasty piece of work” after qualifying but Russell was delighted with his fourth.

“I am feeling pumped to be honest because it has been a while since we had a good race like that where we made overtakes stick,” he said.

“I would have liked to have been three positions higher but we know the position we are as a team right now and P4 was the maximum today,” he added.

Charles Leclerc, who crashed late in qualifying and started seventh on the grid, finished in seventh place on another disappointing day for Ferrari.

“There’s really a lot of work to do,” said Leclerc, “We have a car that has a good feeling under ideal conditions, but as soon as you get away a bit it gets complicated. We need a more consistent car especially in the race.” 

“It’s a very difficult situation because you can fight in qualifying, but then in the race you have to accept that you are passed.”

The Alpine pair of French drivers Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocan finished eighth and ninth with Dane Kevin Magnussen finishing tenth.

It was a tough debut in his homeland for American rookie Logan Sargeant of Williams who had to pit early after losing his front wing and ended last.

 

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