8 MAY 2022
By Bob Francis, Managing Editor
Go Full Throttle Racing News
MIAMI, FLORIDA — Defending F1 Champion Max Verstappen won the inaugural Miami Grand Prix, after a thrilling overtake of Ferrari’s pole-sitter Charles Leclerc on lap 9 of 57 and defended the lead through Safety Car and Virtual Safety Car (VSC) drama. Ultimately Verstappen led the field to a restart with 10 laps remaining and while Leclerc kept close, he was never able to catch and overtake Verstappen who went on to win by nearly 4 seconds.
Max Uses Start to Set Tone
Verstappen qualified P3 on Saturday after disastrous Friday practice sessions plagued with mechanical issues. Red Bull Racing fans took to social media to vent on “ongoing reliability issues” only to see both Red Bull cars perform well in Qualifying (Max P3 and Perez P4) the next day. At the race start on Sunday, Verstappen went to work quickly, grabbing P2 from Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz in Turn 1, and then immediately began to reel in on Leclerc.
The Lap 47 Restart
Verstappen lead Leclerc and Sainz with all on Hard tires and 10 laps remaining in the GP. Perez, Bottas, then Hamilton and Russell were all on Mediums. Alonso (with a five-second penalty for contact with Gasly) led Schumacher and Ocon making up the top 10.
Perez was right on Sainz’s tail for the final podium place and on fresher tires, but could not make the pass. Post race data analysis confirmed just how close the Red Bull and Ferrari cars were on performance.
Meanwhile, at the front, Leclerc had closed the gap to within half a second but Verstappen raced smart and aggressively to get his second consecutive victory of the season by an eventual 3.786s.
Mercedes Still Looking for Answers
“I was giving it everything but a bit stuck behind a few people at the beginning. A bit unlucky, but you learn and I got back to sixth, we got points, so we didn’t lose anything today, really,” said Hamilton. But the tension is clearly growing in the Mercedes camp as George Russell once again finished ahead of the 7x Champion.
Hamilton was heard on the team radio answering tersely to engineer Pete Bonnington when asked which tire strategy. Hamilton explained the back-and-forth after the race.
“In that scenario I have no clue where everyone is, so when the team say it’s your choice, I don’t have the information to make the decision,” explained Hamilton. “That’s what your job is! Make the decision for me, you’ve got all the details. I don’t.”
Post Race Interview
“It was an incredible Grand Prix — very physical as well, but I think we kept it exciting until the end,” said Max Verstappen.
“I think I’ll stick to racing,” he said when asked by Willy T Ribbs if he was fit enough to step into the boxing ring, “but I appreciate a lot of boxing. It felt a bit like it out there… but yes, incredibly happy with winning here in Miami, it was an incredible Sunday for us.”
Up Next: The Spanish Grand Prix May 20–22, 2022
The championship continues in Catalunya with the Spanish Grand Prix on May 20–22, Red Bull now only six points behind Ferrari — and Verstappen 19 points behind Leclerc…