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Max Verstappen second in Miami GP, Norris wins: 'We didn't have the pace'

Published on 06 May 2024 by Misha van der Kroon

Max Verstappen finished second in the Miami Grand Prix. At the start, the three-time World Champion immediately took the lead from pole position and seemed to be on his way to a problem-free victory for a long time. However, a safety car following the crash of Logan Sargeant threw a spanner in the works. Lando Norris was leading the race at that moment and was able to make a 'free' pit stop thanks to the safety car, which allowed him to retain the lead. On his newer tyres, Norris had a good restart and continued to increase the gap to Verstappen. Ultimately, Norris took his first Grand Prix victory seven seconds ahead of Verstappen. It was the first for McLaren since the Italian Grand Prix in 2021. Verstappen had to settle for second place, followed by Charles Leclerc.

Max reacts calmly about his second place: “You win and you lose, we are used to that in racing. From our side it is disappointing, but on the other hand you have to be realistic and we just didn't have the pace. Today was tricky. It didn't feel great on the mediums. We were pulling away, but not like we should be. Once we made a pit stop and I heard what lap times the McLarens could do, I already thought it was pretty quick. When they also switched to the hard tyres, they just had more pace. Especially Lando, he was flying. It was incredibly difficult for us in the last stint, but if a bad day is P2, I’ll take it.”

At the start, Verstappen had a narrow escape when teammate Sergio Perez missed his braking point and almost torpedoed Verstappen off the track. Max says about this: “It was a very close call. I think I had a scratch on my diffuser from him. Fortunately, nothing happened, but that could have ended very badly.”

When asked whether Max expects McLaren to perform so strongly in every race, he answers: “I hope not. They came up with an upgrade and it looks like it's working, so we have some work to do on our end. If there had been no safety car I think it would have been a fight to the end, so that doesn't help, but they were just faster than us. It wasn't our strongest weekend in terms of race pace. I had understeer, oversteer and just very little grip and that is something we have to understand. We will analyse everything and we will try to come back stronger.”

Finally, Max has words of praise for his buddy Lando Norris: “I am very happy for Lando. If someone has to beat me, I'll give it to Lando. It's been a long time coming and it certainly won't be his last victory. He deserves it today.”

It is sunny and warm with an outside temperature of 28 degrees Celsius at the start of the 57 lap-long Grand Prix of Miami. The top seven start on the medium compound, while Lewis Hamilton from P8 is the first driver to start the race on the hard tyres. Valtteri Bottas is the only driver to start the race on softs.

Max Verstappen has an excellent start from pole position and retains the lead entering the first corner. Teammate Perez misses his braking point at the first corner and goes straight onto the run-off area, barely missing Verstappen’s car. Leclerc maintains P2, followed by Oscar Piastri who worked his way up from P6 to P3 at the start. Behind the Australian, Carlos Sainz is in P4, with Perez in fifth place. On lap four, Piastri passes Leclerc for second place. At that moment, the gap between Verstappen and the McLaren driver is two seconds. Max is instructed by his team not to ask too much of his tyres, and the Dutchman maintains the lead with a gap of no more than three seconds. 

On lap 22, Max misses the chicane and hits a bollard. There is no damage to the front wing of the RB20 and Max can continue his journey without any problems. There will however be a short virtual safety car, because the bollard drifted onto the track and has to be removed by the marshalls. Shortly after the virtual safety car has ended, Max makes his first pit stop. The team puts hard tyres on the RB20 and the Dutchman returns to the asphalt in fourth place.

Verstappen moves up to P2 when Piastri and Sainz make their pit stops on lap 28. Shortly after, Kevin Magnussen and Logan Sargeant make contact with each other. Sargeant spins backwards into the track barrier at turn three and the rear of the Williams is badly damaged. The American driver is uninjured, but is the first dropout of the race, while Magnussen can continue his race. He does receive a ten-second time penalty for the incident.

The safety car comes out, but instead of leader Norris, it picks up the pursuing Verstappen. This gives Norris an excellent opportunity to make a 'free' pit stop that will keep him in the lead of the race, with Verstappen behind him in P2 and Leclerc in P3. The field is released again on lap 33, with Norris successfully repelling an attack from Verstappen in the first corner. Norris has the pace and quickly manages to create a gap to Verstappen so that the Dutchman does not get within DRS range.

Piastri and Sainz are in an intense battle for fourth place. The Spaniard eventually passes the McLaren driver on lap 41, but hits Piastri's front wing. The Australian has to go into the pits to change his front wing and falls back to last place. In the lead, Norris is gradually getting away from Verstappen on his newer tyres. Ultimately, the McLaren driver takes his very first Grand Prix victory with a seven-second lead over Verstappen. In his 110th Grand Prix and with his sixteenth podium finish, Norris has finally achieved his goal, and hands over the record for most podiums without a Grand Prix victory to Nick Heidfeld. Max Verstappen takes his fifth podium of the season with a second place, and he also extends his lead in the championship over closest pursuer Perez to 35 points. The Ferraris of Leclerc and Sainz finished in P3 and P4, with Perez in fifth place. Hamilton comes sixth, with Tsunoda in a good seventh place. George Russell finishes in P8, with Fernando Alonso in P9, while Esteban Ocon finishes tenth and takes the first point of the season for the Alpine team.

Results Grand Prix Miami:

1Lando NorrisNORMcLaren Mercedes571:30:49.87625
2Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT57+7.612s18
3Charles LeclercLECFerrari57+9.920s15
4Sergio PerezPERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT57+14.650s0
5Carlos SainzSAIFerrari57+16.407s0
6Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes57+16.585s8
7Yuki TsunodaTSURB Honda RBPT57+26.185s6
8George RussellRUSMercedes57+34.789s4
9Fernando AlonsoALOAston Martin Mercedes57+37.107s2
10Esteban OconOCOAlpine Renault57+39.746s1
11Nico HulkenbergHULHaas Ferrari57+40.789s0
12Pierre GaslyGASAlpine Renault57+44.958s0
13Oscar PiastriPIAMcLaren Mercedes57+49.756s0
14Zhou GuanyuZHOKick Sauber Ferrari57+49.979s0
15Daniel RicciardoRICRB Honda RBPT57+50.956s0
16Valtteri BottasBOTKick Sauber Ferrari57+52.356s0
17Lance StrollSTRAston Martin Mercedes57+55.173s0
18Alexander AlbonALBWilliams Mercedes57+76.091s0
19Kevin MagnussenMAGHaas Ferrari57+84.683s0
0Logan SargeantSARWilliams Mercedes27DNF0