Verstappen wins inaugural Miami Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen wins the Miami Grand Prix after holding off a charging Charles Leclerc in the closing laps, after Lando Norris’ crash brings out a late safety car. 

By James Horsfield

Charles Leclerc’s lead stands at just 19 points after finishing second to his closest rival, Verstappen. Carlos Sainz finished third, Sergio Perez fourth, and George Russell beat his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton after a stellar comeback to finish fifth.

Verstappen was in phenomenal form to take the chequered flag among a crowd of Hollywood A-listers at the newly formed American street circuit on Sunday.

Verstappen breezed past the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz at the start, and it wasn’t until lap seven that he made a move on his main protagonist, Leclerc. It looked as if Verstappen would take a convincing victory, consolidating a gap of around eight seconds, until Pierre Gasly and Lando Norris collided, which brought out a late safety car. 

Leclerc suddenly found some pace at the restart and put Verstappen under intense pressure, setting up a blockbuster finale. Verstappen held his nerve to take the chequered flag for the third time this season, closing the gap to 19 points in the Championship. 

Carlos Sainz finished third and secured the final podium position for Ferrari by resisting a late onslaught from Sergio Perez, enjoying much fresher tires in the sister Red Bull.

George Russell finished in fifth, ahead of his teammate Lewis Hamilton, after working his way through the field after starting in twelfth. Hamilton had started in sixth but was plagued by the timing of the safety car again. The result now means Russell has outscored his teammate in four consecutive races.

Valterri Bottas had been running in fifth for most of the race but finished behind the Mercedes duo in seventh after running wide and brushing a concrete wall in the closing stages. 

The main talking point came on lap 40 when McLaren driver Lando Norris collided with Pierre Gasly while trying to overtake. Gasly was re-entering the track slowly after contact with Fernando Alonso, seemingly unaware of Norris going round the outside. The two collided and brought out the safety car.

With Norris and Gasly out of the race with damage and Alonso picking up a penalty for causing a collision, the remaining three points-scoring positions went to Ocon in eighth, Albon ninth, and Lance Stroll in the Aston Martin finished tenth.

A late coming together for Sebastian Vettel and Mick Schumacher saw them slip out of points-scoring potential. Fortunately for Schumacher, he wasn’t penalised for causing a collision. 

The Formula One carnival moves swiftly onto the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona over the May 20-22 weekend. With 19 points separating the top two, who will come out on top next time?

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