MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 08: Race winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing is presented with an NFL helmet by Dan Marino on the podium during the F1 Grand Prix of Miami at the Miami International Autodrome on May 08, 2022 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Clive Mason - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Verstappen Victorious As Hamilton Slams Team In Dramatic Miami F1 Grand Prix

Max Verstappen held off a late challenge from his main title rival Charles Leclerc after a safety car late in the inaugural Miami Formula 1 Grand Prix gave spectators a nail-biting ending to what was a dramatic weekend of racing.

The drama began before drivers had barely finished their practice sessions around the brand new circuit with many drivers and teams complaining about the uneven nature of the circuit leading to an uncomfortable drive and a lack of grip off the racing line which would make overtaking difficult.

Additionally, Lewis Hamilton was also drawn into a confrontation with the FIA over him wearing jewellery in races, specifically his earrings and nose ring. Hamilton removed his earrings for the race and was given a 2-race medical exemption for his nose ring, which is more difficult to remove.

However, Hamilton revealed that he intends to keep his nose piercing in for the remainder of the F1 season and won’t remove it when his exemption expires at the Monaco Grand Prix.

The 7-time World Champion had to be persuaded by a number of people not to withdraw from the race in protest at FIA’s stance but it makes for an interesting couple of weeks to see what Hamilton decides ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix.

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Exciting Start To The Race

The race itself was hugely enjoyable and saw Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jr.

Red Bull Racing’s Dutch driver Max Verstappen leads racers during the Miami Formula One Grand Prix at the Miami International Autodrome in Miami Gardens, Florida, on May 8, 2022. (Photo by Chandan Khanna / AFP) (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)

lead the grid as they finished 1-2 in qualifying with Verstappen tucked in behind the two Ferrari’s in third place.

It was another struggle for Mercedes once again who finished down the grid once again with their two drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell struggling once again to match the pace of Red Bull and Ferrari.

In terms of the race, most of the excitement came at the beginning and end of the 57-lap race. At the start, Verstappen gained second place when he passed Carlos Sainz Jr around the outside at the first corner.

The Dutchman, the pre-race favorite to win with DraftKings Sportsbook, then chased down the other Ferrari of Charles Leclerc and passed the Frenchman on lap nine and for the middle part of the race, set about expanding that lead further and further away from the two Ferrari drivers.

Safety Car

It looked like nothing would stop Verstappen on his way to claiming victory but with around a quarter of the race remaining, an incident between Lando Norris in the McLaren and Pierre Gasly in the AlphaTauri saw Gasly slide wide at turn 7, which saw Norris clip his car, forcing the McLaren into a scary spin that saw its right rear tyre detach.

A safety car came out with 14 laps of the race remaining and remained out for four laps while the track was cleared and by the time the race restarted with 10 laps to go, the gap that Verstappen had carefully crafted throughout the race had disappeared and Leclerc was right behind him.

Despite pressing for several laps, the Ferrari could not get past the Red Bull car and with three laps remaining, Verstappen increased the gap to over a second meaning he moved out of Ferrari’s DRS range and that ensured he collected his third victory of the season.

Leclerc was second, with Sainz third, Perez fourth, Williams fifth and Hamilton sixth.

Hamilton was clearly unhappy with his car and his team, at one point snapping at his team that they should be deciding race strategy, when they allowed Hamilton to decide whether or not to come in for fresh tyres under the safety car.

Driver’s Championship Standings – Top 6

MIAMI, FLORIDA – MAY 08: Venus Williams and Serena Williams walk on the grid during the F1 Grand Prix of Miami at the Miami International Autodrome on May 08, 2022 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Dan Istitene – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)
  1. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) – 104
  2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 85
  3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) – 66
  4. George Russell (Mercedes) – 59
  5. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) – 53
  6. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 36

Successful Weekend

With the great and good in attendance in Miami, the first F1 weekend in the city proved to be a huge success. There were one or two complaints about the track surface, with problems overtaking off the racing line a particular worry for drivers, but these issues can be worked on and sorted ahead of the next race in 2023.



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