Formula 1: Verstappen Comes Back in Miami
James Minor ’23 recaps a Miami Grand Prix rife with drama and looks forward to the next round, where significant upgrades promise to shake up the standings.
Max Verstappen, starting from ninth place, took a convincing win in Miami last weekend. Sergio Perez (+5.384) took a comfortable second place while Fernando Alonso (+26.305) rounded out the podium. George Russell (+33.229) and Carlos Sainz (+42.511) completed the top five. Sir Lewis Hamilton (+51.249) had the most impressive drive, coming from 13th to finish sixth. Verstappen’s win last weekend solidified his championship lead, which has been under threat from Perez as of late.
In qualifying, there were plenty of unforeseen results. In Q1, round one of qualifying, McLaren suffered a double elimination, failing to deliver on a previous promise that this weekend would bring substantial upgrades to their cars. The shock of Q2 was Sir Lewis Hamilton. The track became faster and faster as the session progressed, meaning Mercedes knew their top driver’s first lap would not be enough. However, the team sent out the seven-time world champion in too much traffic, which impacted his warm up lap. As a result, his qualifying lap proved only enough for 13th position. This qualifying marked his first-ever start outside of the top six on US soil. Q3 saw a Charles Leclerc crash that interfered with Verstappen’s fast lap, dooming him to ninth.. As a result, Perez achieved pole and started first on Sunday.
The race started with relatively low drama. The only issue on lap one came from Nyck De Vries (P18, +88.949) slamming into the back of Lando Norris (P17, +87.717), putting both drivers at an immense disadvantage. The two Red Bull drivers started on opposite strategies, with Verstappen starting on the hard tires and Perez on the mediums. Hamilton was also forced to start on the hard tires due to his poor starting position. Verstappen was able to carve through the field due to the superior speed of his car. Towards the end of his stint on the hard tires, he was able to maintain enough speed to keep the gap between him and Perez close enough to easily overtake his teammate to win the race — an impressive feat for the undeniably prodigious driver.
As for Mercedes, who claim to be in a developmental limbo regarding upgrades to their car, the team saw a compelling amount of pace from both of their drivers. Russell was able to comfortably outpace the Ferraris and didn’t even seem too slow compared to Alonso. On the other side of the Mercedes garage, Hamilton was able to carve his way through the field in a much slower car than Verstappen. This performance from Hamilton is encouraging, especially because the next round will mark the arrival of new upgrades for the car.
Kevin Magnussen (P10, +62.945) started fourth as a result of the chaos in qualifying, a remarkable result for the American team. However, he was unable to convert that to more than a single point, as he finished P10. Yuki Tsunoda (P11, +64.309) continued his streak of top 11 finishes, an impressive result for the quality of his car. Alonso also has an impressive streak going, as he has scored exactly 15 points in every race weekend.
As a result of this race, the standings are now as follows:
The next race is in two weeks at Imola, a storied track in Italy. Qualifying will be at 10:00 a.m. on May 20th and the race will be at 9:00 a.m. on May 21st.
In other racing-related news: this will be my final article on Formula 1. My successor has already been chosen, and this column will go on in my absence. Before I go, however, I want to say that I appreciate all of you who read this. Each person who has come up to me and mentioned my articles has made my day. I hope you have enjoyed them and I will always be happy to talk F1 with any of you. Congratulations to my fellow seniors, enjoy your summers to everyone, and I will miss you all.
Thank you for reading,