Advertisement

Stinging Lewis Hamilton criticism overshadows Max Verstappen dominance in Miami

It is fast turning into a season to forget for Lewis Hamilton/Lewis Hamilton accused of 'ruining a lot of people's races'
It is fast turning into a season to forget for Lewis Hamilton - Getty Images/Clive Rose

Max Verstappen dominated proceedings at the Miami Grand Prix on Saturday, as expected, taking victory in the sprint race before qualifying on pole for Sunday’s main feature race. But the day was overshadowed by some stinging criticism of Lewis Hamilton by rival Fernando Alonso, who accused the Briton of “ruining a lot of people’s races” after a first-corner shunt in the short-format sprint.

In a remark which could well attract the attention of the sport’s governing body the FIA, Alonso also alleged Hamilton only avoided a penalty from the stewards for that incident because he was “not Spanish”.

Hamilton, starting P12 in the Sprint after a difficult qualifying session on Friday, got away well in the 19-lap race. But as he flew up the inside of his rivals into Turn 1, he could not avoid contact with the Aston Martin of Alonso outside him.

Alonso, finding himself squeezed between Hamilton and teammate Lance Stroll, also made contact with the latter, with the Canadian in turn clipping the rear wheel of Lando Norris’ McLaren.

The incident, which brought out a safety car, caused both Stroll and Norris to retire from the race, a particularly painful outcome for Norris who had looked as if he had the pace to qualify on pole on Friday.

Alonso, meanwhile, picked up a puncture, eventually finishing 17th.

And the Spaniard, who accused Hamilton over his radio of having arrived at T1 “like a bull”, did not hide his feelings afterwards, laying blame for the collision squarely at the door of the Mercedes driver and suggesting darkly that stewards would have penalised the seven-time world champion had he been Spanish rather than British.

“We’ll see what they [the stewards] decide,” the two-time world champion said, apparently unaware they had already looked at, and dismissed, the incident. “I imagine they won’t decide anything, because he isn’t Spanish. But I think he ruined a lot of people’s races, especially Norris - who has a very fast car.”

Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso after the sprint race
Fernando Alonso was not happy after a collision with Lewis Hamilton during the sprint race - Reuters/Marco Bello
Stewards retrieve the car of McLaren's Lando Norris during the sprint race in Miami
Stewards retrieve the car of Lando Norris during the sprint race in Miami - Reuters/Marco Bello

Speaking after the sprint race, Norris agreed with Alonso that it was “obvious” who was responsible for the crash. “Lewis dived up the inside and caused the incident,” Norris told the official F1 channel. “Nothing I could do about that.”

The stewards, explaining their decision to take no further action, noted that the first collision actually took place between Alonso and Stroll, rather than Alonso and Hamilton. But they added that the “fast arrival” of Hamilton had certainly contributed to the pileup.

“However,” they continued, “we were not able to identify one or more drivers wholly or predominantly to blame for the various collisions or any one of them. Also keeping in mind that this was in Turn 1 of Lap 1 where greater latitude is given to drivers for incidents, we took no further action.”

Hamilton’s mood would not have been helped by how his Sprint race ultimately panned out.

Although the 39 year-old survived the first-corner contact, he spent most of the ensuing 19 laps stuck behind the Haas of Kevin Magnussen.

The Dane picked up no fewer than three penalties in a desperate bid to hold off Hamilton, all of them “well deserved” by Magnussen’s own admission, so as to allow his teammate Nico Hulkenberg to escape up the road.

And when Hamilton did finally manage to pass the Haas, and Yuki Tsunoda’s Alpine, to finish eighth, and pick up a solitary point, the Briton’s misery continued as he was hit with a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pitlane. Given he could not serve it as the race was over, that converted into a 20-second post-race time penalty, dropping Hamilton to P16. Ironically one place ahead of Alonso.

Hamilton’s teammate George Russell did not have much more luck, getting stuck in a DRS train and finishing 12th having started 11th.

At the front of the race, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen held off Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc with a minimum of fuss to extend his lead in the drivers’ championship.

“Well done, Max. First win of the weekend done,” commented the world champion’s race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase after the chequered flag dropped.

Verstappen certainly looks odds on to make it a sprint weekend double, as he did in China last time out. The Dutch driver beat Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc to pole in qualifying for the main race later on Saturday afternoon. Verstappen was 0.141 seconds quicker than Leclerc. Carlos Sainz made it a Ferrari two-three ahead of the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez.

McLaren’s Lando Norris could not quite find the pace he showed on Friday but the 24 year-old will line up fifth for the race ahead of team-mate Oscar Piastri.

Russell and Hamilton, who unconventionally took medium tyres on their final runs in qualifying, were seventh and eighth.”


Verstappen wins sprint: As it happened...


06:45 PM BST

Qualifying come up

We will be back in a bit for qualifying for Sunday’s race, which kicks off at 9pm BST.


06:42 PM BST

Zizou in Miami

Zinedine Zidane with Charles Leclerc after the race
Zinedine Zidane (left) in Miami - Mario Renzi/Getty Images

06:39 PM BST

How the sprint race started


06:34 PM BST

Miami having fun in the sun


06:32 PM BST

Lewis reflects on sprint race


06:28 PM BST

Russell a little disgruntled


06:23 PM BST

Sixth place for Piastri


06:21 PM BST

Daniel Ricciardo a happy man


06:16 PM BST

Ricciardo finishes fourth


06:11 PM BST

Haas’ Nico Hulkenberg speaking to Sky Sports


06:09 PM BST

Toto Wolff speaking to Sky Sports

“I don’t think you can expect a lot in a Sprint race. There was not lots of overtaking. You can see a quick car on the straight like Ricciardo is able to hold back the train and end up where he started.

“I think the penalty for pit-lane speeding, these things can happen… these errors. In that respect I think the pace of the car was not so bad today, from the limited amount we were able to see there.

“Setup wise, clearly we need to change direction for qualy. We weren’t working the mediums at all (in Sprint Qualifying). Literally zero grip, and then you get all the snaps and you have no performance anymore. It’s no excuse. We’ve seen it with other teams, McLaren in Q3 on the softs and suddenly going backwards. They remain a little bit of a trick, but it’s the same for everyone.”


06:01 PM BST

Haas’ Kevin Magnussen speaking to Sky Sports

“All the penalties were well deserved - no doubt about it. But I had to play the game again.

“I was in a very good position behind Nico [Hulkenberg, his Haas team-mate] there. In the beginning of the race I gained a lot of positions and was up in P8. I was protecting well from Lewis because I had the DRS from Nico and I had good pace. Then Nico cut the chicane and I lost the DRS. Nico could have given that back to give me the DRS to protect because then we would have easily been P7 and P8.

“Instead I was really vulnerable to Lewis. Started fighting with him like crazy and I had to just create the gap like I did in Jeddah. I started using these stupid tactics which I don’t like doing, but the end of the day I did my job as a team player and Nico scored his points because I got that gap for him so Lewis and Tsunoda couldn’t catch him. Not the way I like to go racing at all but it was what I had to do today.”


05:57 PM BST

Full classification

  1. Max Verstappen

  2. Charles Leclerc

  3. Sergio Perez

  4. Daniel Ricciardo

  5. Carlos Sainz

  6. Oscar Piastri

  7. Nico Hulkenberg

  8. Yuki Tsunoda

  9. Pierre Gasly

  10. Logan Sargeant

  11. Zhou Guanyu

  12. George Russell

  13. Alex Albon

  14. Valtteri Bottas

  15. Esteban Ocon

  16. Lewis Hamilton

  17. Fernando Alonso

  18. Kevin Magnussen

DNF:
Lance Stroll
Lando Norris


05:55 PM BST

Third place Sergio Perez

“It was really hard to get through Daniel at the beginning. Once I got through I was three seconds from Charles and given the short duration of the race it was pretty tricky. I was getting within two seconds but then it was quite hard to get a little bit closer.

“Anyway, let’s look forward for the rest of the weekend. The fans are amazing. It’s really nice to be here with all of them and I really hope I can give them a great race this weekend.”


05:52 PM BST

Second place Charles Leclerc

“I had quite a good start and then I was in the inside of Turn One and obviously I didn’t want to take too many risks because we’ve also got qualifying later on. If you crash in Sprint you probably don’t participate later on! So I tried there, we both braked very, very late with Max, but eventually he got to keep the position.

“I was pushing very hard but in the first few laps they had a bit more pace. But then we had a similar degradation and so tomorrow, it’s a long race so qualifying will be important to be starting as much in front as possible. Then hopefully we can put them under pressure with strategy.”


05:49 PM BST

Sprint winner Max Verstappen

“My engagement wasn’t good at the start so I had to squeeze him (Leclerc) a bit. Luckily everything worked out in turn 1. Then we had the Safety Car to calm things down a little bit, but after that, steadily we could increase the gap a little bit, but it wasn’t entirely perfect. So we still have a bit of work to do.

“At least now with the new format we can still finetune the car a little bit, so we hopefully we can improve it a little bit for later in qualifying and especially for tomorrow in the race. But a win is good. I’m happy with that and it gives us a good few points to look at to improve on.”


05:49 PM BST

The top three

Let us hear from the top three drivers; Verstappen, Leclerc and Perez...


05:42 PM BST

Top 8 in the points positions

  1. Verstappen 8pts

  2. Leclerc 7pts

  3. Perez 6pts

  4. Ricciardo 5pts

  5. Sainz 4pts

  6. Piastri 3pts

  7. Hulkenberg 2pts

  8. Tsunoda 1pt


05:42 PM BST

Hamilton slapped with penalty

Hamilton was under investigation for a pitlane infringement and he has now received a drive-through penalty, which takes him out of the points as it equates to a 20-second penalty as he cannot serve the drive-through penalty after the race. It seems strange that the stewards did not punish a few drivers at the start for crashing Norris out of the race yet handed out numerous penalties during the rest of the sprint.


05:38 PM BST

Three penalties for Magnussen

Kevin Magnussen has just received a five-second penalty, which means he has received three penalties in the sprint totaling 25 seconds.


05:37 PM BST

Ricciardo fourth

Daniel Ricciardo holds onto fourth place, two tenths of a second ahead of Carlos Sainz. Oscar Piastri comes home half a second behind Sainz. Nico Hulkenberg comes home in seventh. On the last lap Lewis Hamilton managed to get past Yuki Tsunoda for eighth.


05:35 PM BST

Verstappen wins sprint

Max Verstappen comes across the line to win the sprint. Charles Leclerc comes home in second followed by Sergio Perez.


05:34 PM BST

Lap 19 of 19

Ricciardo is holding onto fourth at the moment. We are onto the final lap and it looks like Verstappen is going to secure the sprint win.


05:31 PM BST

Lap 17 of 19- Top 10

  1. Verstappen

  2. Leclerc

  3. Perez

  4. Ricciardo

  5. Sainz

  6. Piastri

  7. Hulkenberg

  8. Tsunoda

  9. Hamilton

  10. Magnussen


05:31 PM BST

Lap 16 of 19- another penalty for Magnussen

The Dane already had one 10-second penalty, but you can now make that two. It is all going to pieces for the Haas driver.


05:29 PM BST

Lap 15 of 19- Magnussen dropping

Tsunoda has got past Magnussen as has Hamilton. Magnussen is down into 10th and has a 10-second penalty.


05:27 PM BST

Lap 14 of 19- ding-dong battle for eighth

Magnussen and Hamilton are having a real fight for the final point in the sprint. Magnussen has been given a black and white flag for track infringements, which means if he does it again he will receive another penalty.

Into turn 11 Hamilton tries to go on the outside as he tries to overtake Magnussen. The Dane holds position on the inside but they both go deep. That allows Tsunoda to get past Hamilton into ninth.


05:24 PM BST

Lap 11 of 19- Hamilton battling Magnussen

Into turn 11 Hamilton tries to go on the outside to get past Magnussen, but the Dane holds on. Hamilton tries the switch-back but Magnussen just about holds on. The two drives make contact. But Magnussen has just been slapped with a 10-second penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage.

Hamilton is now under investigation for a pitlane incident.


05:21 PM BST

Lap 10 of 19- Ricciardo holding onto fourth

Ricciardo has lost the DRS behind Perez and he is under huge pressure from both Sainz and Piastri.

Further back towards the bottom of the top ten Hamilton is behind both Haas drivers.


05:18 PM BST

Lap 8 of 19- Top 10

  1. Verstappen

  2. Leclerc

  3. Perez

  4. Ricciardo

  5. Sainz

  6. Piastri

  7. Hulkenberg

  8. Magnussen

  9. Hamilton

  10. Tsunoda


05:14 PM BST

Lap 5 of 19- Perez passes Ricciardo

With DRS activated, Perez sends it down the inside of turn 11 and takes third from Ricciardo.


05:11 PM BST

Lap 4 of 19- green flag

We are back racing. Before the safety car came out Ricciardo got ahead of Perez and into third place.


05:10 PM BST

Lap 3 of 19- SC conditions

The stewards have decided no further action necessary, which seems absurd considering some of the reckless driving from Hamilton and the Astons. Stroll is out of the race after picking up damage in the incident. Alonso has come in for a change of front wings. The safety car is coming in at the end of this lap.


05:09 PM BST

Lap 2 of 19- SC conditions

The drives are coming through the pitlane to avoid any debris into turn one. Norris was minding his own business on the outside of turn one, giving huge space to everyone else. Hamilton came recklessly flying up the inside and made contact with Alonso. The two Astons touched and then Stroll collided into Norris.


05:06 PM BST

Lap 1 of 19- Norris out as safety car comes out

The safety car has been brought out as Norris’s car is stationary at turn one. The incident is caused by Hamilton and the two Aston Martins, who then whack into Norris.


05:05 PM BST

Lights out

We are under way in the sprint in Miami. Leclerc tries to down the inside of Verstappen but the Dutchman holds on to first place. There are yellow flags waving at turn one as Norris looks like he is out of the race.


05:00 PM BST

Formation lap

The drives are making their way around the track on the formation lap and we are just moments away from lights out in the sprint.

There are 19 laps in this sprint, with no mandatory pit-stops and a free choice of tyres. Points are available from first down to eighth.

Everyone is on the medium tyres, except RB’s Yuki Tsunoda and Williams’ Logan Sargeant, who are on the softs near the back of the grid. Sargeant’s teammate Alex Albon starts from the pitlane.


04:56 PM BST

Lando Norris, starting ninth in the sprint, speaking to Sky

“The car was very good yesterday. We kind of just lost it a bit on the soft tyre in SQ3. I think we know why and we’ll try to resurrect it for qualy later today.

“But I think the pace on the medium was strong and hopefully that shows again today.”


04:49 PM BST

Penalty for Ocon

As a result of that pitlane incident, Esteban Ocon has been slapped with a 10-second penalty. Ocon starts 13th in the sprint.


04:47 PM BST

Starting grid for the sprint

Here is the starting top ten for the sprint:

  1. Max Verstappen

  2. Charles Leclerc

  3. Sergio Perez

  4. Daniel Ricciardo

  5. Carlos Sainz

  6. Oscar Piastri

  7. Lance Stroll

  8. Fernando Alonso

  9. Lando Norris

  10. Nico Hulkenberg

Mercedes duo George Russell and Lewis Hamilton start 11th and 12th respectively.


04:38 PM BST

No serious damage for Leclerc

Charles Leclerc will be relieved that the contact with Esteban Ocon has not caused any serious damage, but it does seem like there is a little bit of damage to the rim and wheel. Ferrari are anxiously checking to see if there is any more areas for concern, including the diffuser.


04:35 PM BST

Incident in the pitlane

As the drivers are making their way out to the grid, there has been contact between Charles Leclerc and Esteban Ocon in the pitlane. Leclerc was going down the pitlane and Ocon for some reason was released by Alpine into Leclerc’s path. Unsurprisingly Alpine are under investigation for an unsafe release. Ferrari have told Leclerc that there is no damage that they can see but Ocon has damaged his front wing as he collided into Leclerc’s rear wheel. Alpine have a spare front wing which the mechanics have brought onto the grid, but it has to be exactly the same if there is to be no penalty.


04:31 PM BST

The difference between pole and second


04:27 PM BST

Sky’s Jenson Button on McLaren’s upgrades

“When you look at the previous updates that they’ve had, the correlation has been really good. They put it on the track, and it does as it says on the tin, which is quite unusual in a Formula 1 team, because it’s difficult.

“We saw their pace in SQ2 and it was mighty. I think they’re in a really good place. Once they get it all together and work out which bits work and which bits don’t from the upgrade, they could be close to fighting with Red Bull.

“I know that everyone is going to say, ‘well, you’re just saying that because you want to see a fight.’ Yeah, I do want to see a fight, but this is real.”


04:22 PM BST

Sky crew discuss Mercedes’ woes


04:16 PM BST

Changes to the grid

There have been a couple of changes to the grid for the sprint. Valtteri Bottas has received a three-place grid penalty for impeding Oscar Piastri going into turn one, so he drops from 16th to 19th. Williams’ Alex Albon will start from the pitlane after making some set-up changes, which breaches parc-ferme rules.


04:10 PM BST

Drivers arriving


04:06 PM BST

Max’s sprint pole lap


03:40 PM BST

Preview

It is a busy Saturday in Miami as we have both the sprint race and qualifying for Sunday’s race all on the same day. First up, we have the sprint at 5pm BST, with qualifying for it taking place yesterday. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen will start the sprint on pole after qualifying just over a tenth of a second ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez will start third with RB’s Daniel Ricciardo securing a very surprising fourth place.

It was a disappointing SQ3 for McLaren, who showed great pace in the first two sprint qualifying sessions as Lando Norris topped both SQ1 and SQ2. Norris looked destined to challenge Verstappen for sprint pole but, after a poor opening sector, he finished up in ninth. His his final two sectors in SQ3 were the fastest, but the damage was done by his poor first sector. Norris’ time in SQ2 would have seen him take pole but his time in SQ3 was nine tenths slower than his SQ2 time. Norris was annoyed with the mistakes he made on that lap in SQ3.

“I just pushed too hard, simple as that,” Norris said. “The car was feeling very good. Just silly, to be honest - a couple of mistakes in Turn One and then a big spiral from there. A shame because the team have done a good job. The upgrades are working, happy with everything but not with one thing.”

McLaren have brought a raft of upgrades this weekend and, after showing great pace in the opening two sprint qualifying sessions, they will be disappointed with where they will be starting the sprint. Norris has all of the upgrades on his car whereas his teammate Oscar Piastri, who will the sprint in sixth, has half of the upgrades. Piastri will have all of the upgrades on his car in Imola next time out. Pole-sitter Verstappen admitted after sprint qualifying that he was surprised to be on pole for today’s sprint.

“To be honest, it felt really terrible. Maybe that last session was just incredibly difficult to get the tyres to work. I didn’t really improve a lot on the soft but somehow we were first. Practice felt really nice, it felt like the car was in a really good window but in qualifying it didn’t feel like that any more. I was really not happy.

Max Verstappen walking in the paddock in Miami
Max Verstappen (pictured) starts on pole in the Miami sprint - Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

“In Q3 I saw I was only going 0.2secs faster and I was sliding around, no grip and they told me it was P1 and I thought it must be a joke but we’ll take it.”

Mercedes have a huge amount of work to do as both George Russell (11th) and Lewis Hamilton (12th) were knocked out in SQ2. After the sprint, we will have qualifying for Sunday’s race, which will take place at 9pm BST.

Strap yourselves in for a bumper Saturday in Miami.

Broaden your horizons with award-winning British journalism. Try The Telegraph free for 3 months with unlimited access to our award-winning website, exclusive app, money-saving offers and more.