Max Verstappen holds off Charles Leclerc for crucial win in Miami

Max Verstappen caught and passed both Ferraris and held off late pressure from Charles Leclerc to attain the first Miami Grand Prix.

Starting third, defending world champion Verstappen bullied his way past the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz at Turn 1 to move up to second before overtaking Leclerc on Lap 9. Verstappen’s Red Bull had looked set for a routine win from there until Lando Norris’ McLaren was spun out of the race by Pierre Gasly, prompting a safety car in the closing stages.

That brought Leclerc right back onto his tail, but Verstappen drove faultlessly to stay ahead, cutting the Ferrari driver’s championship lead to 19 points in the process.

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It was another ruthless display from Verstappen after a challenging weekend which had seen a brake fire curtail one of his practice sessions and a small mistake costing him the opportunity of pole on Saturday, which he felt had been down to the lost track time earlier in the week.

Leclerc’s Ferrari teammate Sainz held off Sergio Perez of Red Bull for the final spot of the podium.

Perez had been told “race on” by Red Bull when he had used the late safety car period to pit for fresh tires, but he squandered his best chance of passing Sainz when he overcooked an overtake attempt at Turn 1.

Mercedes driver George Russell concluded fifth, once again ahead of seven-time champion teammate Lewis Hamilton. On pure pace Hamilton had been ahead but the timing of the safety car was unfortunate for him, with Russell able to stop for fresh tyres. Russell got past Hamilton several laps after the restart.

“Strategy has not been kind to me again, man,” Hamilton would say over the team radio after the pass.

Hamilton’s former teammate Valtteri Bottas had been running ahead of the Mercedes drivers before a mistake shortly after the restart.

Alpine duo Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso finished ahead of Williams driver Alex Albon, who took the final points position of the race.

Haas driver Mick Schumacher had looked set for a top-10 finish before a late collision with Sebastian Vettel. The collision put Vettel out of the race and saw Schumacher finish down the order in 15th.

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