Formula 1: Max Verstappen beats Charles Leclerc to win Miami Grand Prix

·4 min read

Max Verstappen has the most wins in Formula 1 so far in 2022.

Verstappen held off a late charge from Charles Leclerc after a safety car for Lando Norris’ crash to win the Miami Grand Prix on Sunday for his third win of the season.

The race looked like it was going to be uneventful until Norris and Pierre Gasly collided on lap 41 of the 57-lap race. Norris’ crashed car brought out the safety car and meant that Leclerc had a chance to get near Verstappen after Verstappen had driven away following a pass for the lead on lap 9.

But Leclerc never got close enough to make a serious challenge for the lead over the final 11-lap green-flag run of the race. Verstappen also posted the fastest lap to cut eight points off Leclerc’s points lead. Leclerc has the points lead since Verstappen failed to score in the two races Leclerc has won this season.

MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 08: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB18 leads Charles Leclerc of Monaco driving (16) the Ferrari F1-75 during the Formula 1 Grand Prix of Miami at the Miami International Autodrome on May 08, 2022 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB18 leads Charles Leclerc of Monaco driving (16) the Ferrari F1-75 during the Formula 1 Grand Prix of Miami at the Miami International Autodrome on Sunday. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Leclerc’s Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz finished third ahead of Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez in fourth. Perez pitted during the caution for fresh medium compound tires but never made a serious challenge for the lead despite having fresher tires than everyone ahead of him.

Mercedes’ George Russell finished fifth after starting on the hard compound tires from 12th. Russell hadn’t pitted before the caution for Norris and he was able to get fresh medium tires and pass teammate Lewis Hamilton thanks to that fresh rubber. Hamilton was sixth ahead of Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas.

Tire strategy through the middle of the field

Drivers outside the top 10 started the race on hard tires and those decisions paid off. Russell moved up seven spots to fifth over the course of the race and Esteban Ocon finished eighth after he started the race in last after missing out on qualifying because of a final practice crash.

Ocon started last on the grid and moved up eight spots after he started on hard tires. Alex Albion finished 10th and got the last points scoring position after he failed to make the cut after the first round of qualifying.

The tire strategy was about the only way teams could make moves throughout the race. The Miami Grand Prix was expected to be a significant tire wear race with the potential for lots of passing but that didn’t really materialize. The race would have been extremely straightforward had the safety car not come out for Norris’ crash.

Miami was the motorsports event of the year

Sunday’s race will rival the Indianapolis 500 for the biggest U.S. motorsports event of the season and may end up having the biggest celebrity turnout. Hamilton took a picture before the race with Michael Jordan, Tom Brady and David Beckham while Patrick Mahomes, Ryan Reynolds, the Black Eyed Peas and numerous other celebrities were at the race. Sky Sports’ Martin Brundle even mistook Duke’s Paolo Banchero for Mahomes.

The Miami Grand Prix is one of two United States F1 races this season as the series continues its rapid growth in the states. There will be three U.S. races in 2023 as the Las Vegas Grand Prix joins the calendar on Thanksgiving weekend. The Netflix show “Drive to Survive” is credited for much of that growth within the key 18-49 demographic and it’s very likely that the F1 race will score better TV ratings within that age group than the NASCAR Cup Series race at Darlington at the same time.

Race results

1. Max Verstappen

2. Charles Leclerc

3. Carlos Sainz

4. Sergio Perez

5. George Russell

6. Lewis Hamilton

7. Valtteri Bottas

8. Esteban Ocon

9. Fernando Alonso

10. Alex Albon

11. Daniel Ricciardo

12. Lance Stroll

13. Yuki Tsunoda

14. Nicholas Latifi

15. Mick Schumacher

16. Kevin Magnussen

17. Sebastian Vettel

18. Pierre Gasly

19. Lando Norris

20. Guanyu Zhou

Points standings

1. Charles Leclerc, 104 points

2. Max Verstappen, 75

3. Sergio Perez, 66

4. George Russell, 59

5. Carlos Sainz, 53

6. Lewis Hamilton, 36

7. Lando Norris, 35

8. Valtteri Bottas, 30

9. Esteban Ocon, 24

10. Kevin Magnussen, 15

11. Daniel Ricciardo, 11

12. Yuki Tsunoda, 10

13. Pierre Gasly, 6

14. Sebastian Vettel, 4

14. Fernando Alonso, 4

16. Alex Albon, 2

17. Guanyu Zhou, 1

18. Lance Stroll, 1

19. Mick Schumacher, 0

20. Nicholas Latifi, 0