Miami GP: Max Verstappen holds off Charles Leclerc in blistering closing laps to take victory

Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen kept Charles Leclerc at bay at the Miami Grand Prix on Sunday as the Dutchman reduced the deficit to the championship leader down to 19 points.

The race had threatened to be rather processional but a late Safety Car caused by Pierre Gasly and Lando Norris coming together, which left the Briton out of the race, set us up for a thrilling final ten laps or so.

Out in front in the closing stages, Verstappen was hounded by Leclerc for the lead with the Ferrari man just half a second back at points, but he could not get past on F1’s newest circuit.

That wasn’t the only battle sparked by the late Safety Car, though, with Carlos Sainz managing to hold off Sergio Perez for third place, with the Mexican on fresher tyres but also having to deal with a power deficit – Red Bull will be delighted at least that no more retirements were recorded here.

In P5, George Russell overtook Lewis Hamilton as the Mercedes cars benefitted from Valtteri Bottas running wide in the final stages, with Russell perhaps also the man to gain the most from the Safety Car, with him rising up the standings on a long run without changing his tyres, in the hope that such an intervention to the race would be made.

As mentioned, before the Safety Car had been introduced, the race was rather going through the motions, with Verstappen jumping Carlos Sainz off of the line at the start and overtaking Leclerc for P1 on lap 9 of the Grand Prix.

The two chief title protagonists appeared rather in a class of their own again, too, and on another day Leclerc could have perhaps won the Grand Prix, had he been able to make his late surge pay off.

Elsewhere, Alex Albon added more points for Williams, whilst Mick Schumacher saw his first-ever F1 points taken away from him in the final stages, after a clash with friend Sebastian Vettel left both tumbling down the running order and Seb in the garage with floor damage.

max verstappen wins in miami
MIAMI, FLORIDA – MAY 08: Race winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB18 passes his team celebrating on the pitwall during the F1 Grand Prix of Miami at the Miami International Autodrome on May 08, 2022 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

The first-ever Miami Grand Prix has been and gone, then, with Max maintaining his record in 2022 of always winning when he finishes.

Up next, more familiar surroundings as F1 returns to Europe for the Spanish Grand Prix on May 20-22.

You can keep up to date with all the latest F1 news, rumours and results right here at Give Me Sport.

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