Verstappen Wins the First Miami GP!

Formula 1 is finally in Miami Florida! Miami’s race did not disappoint. There was plenty of drama heading into this race. Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen were tied at two race wins a piece coming into the 5th race of the season. Mercedes is struggling to maintain third place in the constructer’s championship. McLaren has struggled mightily in the first four races this year, while parity is ruling the rest of the field.

Red Bull clearly had the pace coming into qualification. However, on Verstappen’s last opportunity to secure pole, he made a mistake on the chicane and his time was negated forcing him to start in third place, behind Carlos Sainz and Leclerc respectfully. Finally, minutes before the race started, both Aston Martins were forced to start from pit lane due to a mechanical issue.

Max Verstappen

It is only 200 meters to the first corner. With Ferrari starting one and two, Verstappen needed a great start to put himself in position to win. At the first turn he went wide of Sainz and slipped into 2nd place. Leclerc kept Verstappen at bay for nine laps. On turn 17, Verstappen took advantage of his superior power and blew past Leclerc and never really looked back.

We all knew it was a matter of time before Verstappen would pass Leclerc. On the straight, the Red Bull car was running six miles an hour faster than the Ferrari. That reality was born out when Verstappen was seven seconds ahead of Leclerc in the middle of the race. Where Red Bull was fast in the straights, Ferrari made up ground on the corners and kept within striking distance thru out the race. After the double yellow flags moved to green flag racing in lap 46, Leclerc gave Verstappen a run for his money for about 6 laps. Finally, Verstappen was able to pull out of DRS range and secured his first-place finish with a few laps to go.

Max Verstappen

For me, the driver of the day was George Russell. During the practice sessions he was lightening quick. In fact, he earned the 2nd best time during practice session two. However, somehow the car set up didn’t agree with him during qualification and he started 12th on the grid. His Mercedes crew must have put him some long hours to get the car ready for Sunday. Coming into 41, Russell had yet to pit and he was running in 7th. He and his team were banking on a safety car and they gambled correctly. He obtained a new set of soft tires on a free stop and when the flag went green, he gave Lewis Hamilton all he could handle. However, he didn’t get past Hamilton until both he and Hamilton took advantage of a massive mistake made by Valterri Bottas during lap 50. Both Mercedes rolled by Bottas as he went wide, and off the track on a turn. Shortly after, Russell took Hamilton’s spot and finished in 5th position. George Russell is the only Formula 1 Driver to finish in the top 5 in each of the first five races this year. Mercedes has started the season slow. Perhaps they will continue to improve to stick their nose in the Red Bull/Ferrari fight.

Sunday’s race was another disappointing day for Mick Schumacher. The Haas driver spent most of the day within striking distance of finishing in the points. After the yellow flags, Mick was in ninth position and likely to finish in the top ten with only 10 laps to go. However, during lap 54 Sebastian Vettel made a move on Esteban Ocon and Schumacher bumping the young Haas driver to ninth. Schumacher went on the attack. It appeared Vettel may have cut him off into the next turn, or maybe Schumacher was too aggressive, either way, their cars collided effectively taking them both out of the race. Each were able to limp to pit. Vettel retired and Mick finished the race 15th.

McLaren’s woes continue. Lando Norris managed to qualify 8th. He spent most of the race in the top ten in a fairly unremarkable race. Daniel Ricciardo qualified 14th and was not much of a player throughout the race. McLaren would have likely scored points but for Pierre Gasly failing to see Norris coming up on his right. Gasly had went wide and off the track and then around a blind spot. Norris came up on Gasly’s right fast. Gasly clipped Norris, spinning the Brit out, and knocking off his left rear tire off the car. Norris’s day was done.

Max Verstappen

All in all, Miami’s first Grand Prix was a success. Over 440,000 attended the race from all over the world. Miami is the ultimate melting pot, drawing peoples and cultures from all over the globe. It is about time that the world’s best international racing comes to Miami. Hopefully next year I can attend. For now, on to Barcelona in two weeks!

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