Red Bull’s Max Verstappen overtook both Ferraris and withstood late pressure from Charles Leclerc to take his third win of the 2022 F1 season in the Miami Grand Prix.
Starting from third on the grid in F1’s first-ever race in Miami, Verstappen passed Carlos Sainz at the start before hunting down and overtaking Leclerc for the lead on lap 9 on Sunday (Monday IST).
With his Red Bull having the edge in terms of top speed, Verstappen had looked fairly comfortable at the front until the Safety Car was deployed on lap 42 following a collision between Lando Norris and Pierre Gasly, Xinhua reports. When racing resumed on lap 46, the resultant bunching of the pack saw Leclerc right on Verstappen’s tail, and the Monegasque tried everything he could to pass the Dutchman.
However, the Red Bull’s superior straight-line speed meant Leclerc was never able to get close enough to attempt an overtake, and Verstappen held on to take his third win of 2022 and take another eight points out of Leclerc’s championship lead.
“It was an incredible Grand Prix. Very physical but I think we kept it exciting until the end. I am incredibly happy with winning here in Miami, it was an incredible Sunday for us,” said Verstappen, who also took the bonus point for fastest lap.
Behind the top two, Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz took the final podium place just ahead of Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, who had tried to pass the Spaniard on lap 52 but lost the position after locking up.
Mercedes’ George Russell finished fifth after gaining several places by pitting under the Safety Car, ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton in sixth.
Valtteri Bottas took seventh for Alfa Romeo, with Alpine’s Esteban Ocon a fine eighth after having started from the back of the grid.
Ocon’s teammate Fernando Alonso was classified ninth after taking a five-second penalty following contact with Gasly, while Alex Albon was another to benefit from the Safety Car, gaining several places on his way to his and Williams’ second point of 2022 in tenth spot.
Chinese driver Zhou Guanyu was the race’s first retirement, pulling into the pits on lap 7 with an apparent mechanical issue.
In the Drivers’ Championship, Leclerc still leads with 104 points, but Verstappen continues to close the gap and now has 85 points, with Perez third on 66.
In the Constructors’ standings, Ferrari have 157 points, with Red Bull just six points adrift and Mercedes a distant third with 95.
The sixth round of the 2022 F1 season is the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya on May 22.
(Inputs from IANS)