Miami Grand Prix 2024: Max Verstappen Charges To Sprint Race Win Over Charles Leclerc & Sergio Perez

Miami Grand Prix 2024: Max Verstappen Charges To Sprint Race Win Over Charles Leclerc & Sergio Perez

The 26-year-old Dutch driver, Verstappen defended his lead at the start and overcame an early Safety Car before building up a comfortable lead at the head of the field, with Leclerc settling for second and Perez fighting with Daniel Ricciardo for the third spot.

IANSUpdated: Saturday, May 04, 2024, 11:21 PM IST
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Defending champion Max Verstappen converted his pole position into victory during Saturday’s Sprint race at the Miami Grand Prix, finishing ahead of Ferrari rival Charles Leclerc and Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez at the end of an action-packed encounter.

The 26-year-old Dutch driver, Verstappen defended his lead at the start and overcame an early Safety Car before building up a comfortable lead at the head of the field, with Leclerc settling for second and Perez fighting with Daniel Ricciardo for the third spot.

Ricciardo brilliantly fended off the other Ferrari of Carlos Sainz and Oscar Piastri – who was the sole McLaren finisher after Lando Norris retired on the first lap – to take fourth, with Haas’s Nico Hulkenberg seventh and RB’s Yuki Tsunoda scoring the final point when Lewis Hamilton took a post-race penalty.

Just like in China two weeks ago, Friday’s Sprint Qualifying session set the grid for the 19-lap, 100-kilometre dash, with Verstappen emerging on top at the end of a tricky SQ3 phase that saw several drivers struggle to get a strong lap out of their mandated soft tyres.

A couple of changes to the starting order because of penalties saw Valtteri Bottas shifted to the very back of the grid thanks to a three-place grid penalty for impeding Piastri during qualifying, and Alex Albon moved to the pit lane due to suspension changes under Parc Ferme conditions.

Then, before the grid formed, Leclerc and Esteban Ocon were involved in an unusual incident as they left the pit lane, with the Alpine driver – who was released into the Ferrari’s path – forced to take on a new front wing and soon being given a 10-second time penalty.

When the tyre blankets came off all 20 cars, it was revealed that the vast majority of drivers would be starting on the medium rubber, with only Tsunoda, down in 15th, and home favourite Logan Sargeant, back in 18th, doing something different by opting for softs.

At the eagerly anticipated start, pole-sitter Verstappen immediately moved to the right-hand side of the track to defend his lead from Leclerc into Turn 1, where a bold Perez lunge around the outside saw him run wide and allow Ricciardo through for third.

Further back, Norris got caught up in drama for the second Sprint start in succession, having been tipped into a spin at the first corner – and left with terminal damage – after contact between Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll in the bottleneck sent the latter’s Aston Martin into the McLaren.

“There was a gap on the inside, so I went for it,” Hamilton commented over the radio afterwards, with Alonso arguing that his former teammate “arrived like a bull”, only for the stewards to look into the incident and decide against any further action.

Alonso was forced to pit for a new front wing, while Stroll returned to the Aston Martin garage to retire his heavily damaged car and Ocon took the opportunity to serve his 10-second penalty, allowing the Frenchman to close up to the back of the pack under the Safety Car.

At the restart, Verstappen retained his lead over Leclerc, with Ricciardo holding third from Perez, Sainz, Piastri, Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen, who had benefitted from the drama to turn 14th into eighth and the final points-paying position as things stood.

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