Max Verstappen made his way through the field from ninth place on the grid to take a stunning victory in the Miami Grand Prix, as he sealed his third win of the season to extend his driver’s championship lead to 14 points.
His team-mate Sergio Perez finished over five seconds behind in second place. Fernando Alonso achieved his fourth podium finish of the season, as the Aston Martin driver came home in third to round off the top three.
Perez started the race on pole position, with Verstappen being forced to work his way through the pack to stand any chance of competing with his teammate for victory on American soil.
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The two drivers went for different one-stop strategies as Perez started on the medium tyres, and Max Verstappen on the longer-lasting hards, which proved to be the better all-round racing compound.
It meant that within 15 laps, the defending world champion used the pace of his Red Bull to make his way up into second place past Alonso. Five laps later, and with his team-mate less than two seconds behind him on the track, Perez came into the pits for his only stop of the race, and it became a strategic shoot-out between the pair of them for the victory.
Max Verstappen extended his opening stint on the hard tyres and stayed out all the way until Lap 45. He came back out of the pits under two seconds behind Perez with just over ten laps to go.
With Perez almost powerless to defend on his worn harder tyres, the Dutchman made the race-winning overtake on Lap 48 around the outside into Turn One and never looked back.
Max Verstappen crossed the line 5.3 seconds clear of Perez to take the chequered flag and cap off a superb drive.
Meanwhile, an impressive performance from Lewis Hamilton – despite starting in 13th – saw him finish in sixth. His teammate George Russell came home in fourth, as Mercedes took home some important points.
It was a day to forget for Ferrari, with Carlos Sainz finishing in fifth, and Leclerc down in seventh.
A difficult qualifying session yesterday saw the championship leader line up in ninth place for today’s race. A mistake on his first timed run, followed by the red flag that came out for Charles Leclerc’s spin into the barrier meant he started well down on the grid.
With Perez capitalising and starting on pole, it meant the Mexican had a strong chance to take the lead in the championship with a positive result. Verstappen, however, had other ideas despite his lowly grid position and showed raw pace in the first stint of the race especially to put himself in the best position to take the victory on an alternative strategy to his teammate.
The difference in strategy between the pair of them meant that Perez was unable to defend Max Verstappen in the dying laps because of his worn hard tyres. Verstappen showed his speed throughout the race and demonstrated why he cannot be written off at any point. A great drive by the Dutchman, who takes home 26 points after also securing the fastest lap of the Grand Prix, as well as his 38th victory in Formula 1.
Max Verstappen kept it clean
“I just had a clean race and picked the cars off one by one,” said Max Verstappen. “I stayed out really long on the hard tyres and I think that’s what made the difference and then a good little battle with Checo at the end.
“Yesterday was of course a bit of a setback but today we kept it calm, kept it clean and for sure winning a race from P9 is very satisfying.”
Perez added: “I tried. I gave it my all. We had graining and initial pace wasn’t good.
“The medium [tyre] we had initially was poor, more than expected. It really compromised our pace and Max Verstappen had tremendous pace on the hard and we will analyse what went wrong today because we simply didn’t have the pace.”
Fernando Alonso continued his superb season for Aston Martin to take his fourth podium finish in five races with an outstanding performance of his own.
George Russell was a strong fourth for Mercedes while Ferrari had a dispiriting afternoon.
Carlos Sainz challenged Alonso in the first stint but earned a five-second penalty for speeding in the pit lane at his pit stop and then dropped away in the second stint to finish fifth.
Team-mate Charles Leclerc had a race to forget after crashing in qualifying and starting seventh.
He fought a long battle with Haas driver Kevin Magnussen, who drove an outstanding race, before finally getting past with 20 laps to go and taking seventh place behind Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes, which was on the same off-set strategy as Max Verstappen and passed Leclerc in the closing stages.