Verstappen holds off Leclerc to win dramatic Miami GP Sprint

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Verstappen holds off Leclerc to win dramatic Miami GP Sprint

Max Verstappen held off Charles Leclerc to win a dramatic Miami GP Sprint on Saturday.

Verstappen started from pole position and was challenged by Leclerc on the opening lap but stayed ahead before a Safety Car was called for Lando Norris, who got caught up in a first-corner incident that also involved Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll.

Sergio Perez finished third after getting back past Daniel Ricciardo, who enjoyed his best result of the season so far in fourth.

Ricciardo withstood pressure from Carlos Sainz and Oscar Piastri throughout the 100km Sprint, as Nico Hulkenberg gave Haas more points with seventh and Yuki Tsunoda inherited the final point in eighth after Hamilton was given a post-race penalty for speeding in the pit lane.

Hamilton had been involved in a dramatic tussle with Kevin Magnussen, who picked up three penalties in his bid to help Haas team-mate Hulkenberg.

Miami GP Sprint: Top 8

1) Max Verstappen, Red Bull

2) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari

3) Sergio Perez, Red Bull

4) Daniel Ricciardo, RB

5) Carlos Sainz, Ferrari

6) Oscar Piastri, McLaren

7) Nico Hulkenberg, Haas

8) Yuki Tsunoda, RB

Verstappen’s victory extends his advantage in the drivers’ championship to 27 points over Perez and he keeps his 100 per cent winning record in Miami, after winning the 2022 and 2023 Grand Prix.

Red Bull will hope to stay on top in Qualifying later on Saturday at 9pm and the race on Sunday at 9pm – both live on Sky Sports F1.

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Max Verstappen wins his second Sprint of the year at the Miami GP as Lewis Hamilton takes eighth on the last lap

Leclerc keeps Verstappen in sight

Verstappen and Leclerc have had plenty of wheel-to-wheel battles over the years but the Ferrari driver couldn’t get alongside his rival after the first lap.

Both drivers pointed their cars towards each other on the grid as Verstappen swung around the outside to stay in the lead.

After the Safety Car for Norris’ retirement, Leclerc managed to consistently stay within two seconds of Verstappen, who wasn’t happy with the lack of rear grip on his car.

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Esteban Ocon drives into Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari in the pitlane, going to the grid for the Sprint at the Miami Grand Prix

Towards the end, Verstappen pulled away slightly to win by 3.3 seconds but Ferrari are definitely more of a threat compared to Shanghai and Suzuka.

“My engagement wasn’t good at the start so I had to squeeze him (Leclerc) a bit,” said Verstappen. “Luckily everything worked out in turn 1. Then we had the Safety Car to calm things down a little bit, but after that, steadily we could increase the gap a little bit, but it wasn’t entirely perfect. So we still have a bit of work to do.

“At least now with the new format we can still finetune the car a little bit, so hopefully we can improve it a little bit for later in qualifying and especially for tomorrow in the race.

“But a win is good. I’m happy with that and it gives us a good few points to look at to improve on.”

Norris in first-corner collision

Norris should have started further up the grid but a poor SQ3 on Friday meant he began the Sprint in ninth and his race only lasted a matter of seconds.

The McLaren driver was on the outside in Turn One and left room for other cars, but was clipped by Stroll.

Stroll himself was on the outside of Alonso and Hamilton, who dived up the inside to make up ground. Alonso suffered a puncture as he was sandwiched by Hamilton and Stroll, the latter also retired after pitting at the end of the first lap.

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Lando Norris is taken out after both Aston Martins collide on the opening lap of the Miami GP Sprint

“Nothing I could have done,” said Norris. “It’s a bit stupid in a Sprint, hardly any points [on offer]. Car’s been good all weekend, so nothing to complain about.

“We paid the price of being back with some of the people who are a bit more careless. It’s the position we were in for me doing a bad job yesterday. The pace is good, the car is good. We can still have a great weekend. We will forget about it and move on.”

Hamilton penalised and frustrated by Magnussen

Hamilton found himself in ninth place on the Safety Car restart, behind Magnussen, and was clearly quicker in the corners.

However, Magnussen aggressively defended to try and hold onto eighth place, to score a point, also knowing he had team-mate Hulkenberg ahead, so battling hard would help the German.

Every time Hamilton tried to get by, Magnussen would force him wide or fight back immediately, causing a huge train of cars from eighth, to last place.

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Lewis Hamilton loses a place to Yuki Tsunoda after Kevin Magnussen goes off the track to defend his position

At one point, Magnussen cut the slow chicane in Sector Two, to stay ahead of Hamilton and he was given three penalties worth 25 seconds for his robust driving.

It paid off though as Hulkenberg finished seventh, but Magnussen wasn’t happy with his team-mate.

“All the penalties were well deserved – no doubt about it. But I had to play the game again,” he told Sky Sports F1.

“I was in a very good position behind Nico there. In the beginning of the race I gained a lot of positions and was up in P8.

“I was protecting well from Lewis because I had the DRS from Nico and I had good pace. Then Nico cut the chicane and I lost the DRS. Nico could have given that back to give me the DRS to protect because then we would have easily been P7 and P8.

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Haas’ Kevin Magnussen says he did his job as a team player after creating a gap for team-mate Nico Hulkenberg, which cost him three penalties during the Miami GP Sprint

“Instead I was really vulnerable to Lewis. Started fighting with him like crazy and I had to just create the gap like I did in Jeddah.

“I started using these stupid tactics which I don’t like doing, but at the end of the day I did my job as a team player and Nico scored his points because I got that gap for him so Lewis and Tsunoda couldn’t catch him.”

As for Hamilton, he had lost out to Tsunoda but got him back on the last lap, only to be given a post-race drive-through penalty for speeding in the pit lane, so dropped to 16th.

Big result for Ricciardo

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Daniel Ricciardo explained some of the improvements he felt in the car this weekend which saw the RB driver hold off Carlos Sainz to take fourth in the Miami Sprint

Further ahead, Ricciardo was also involved in a fight of his own but cleanly fended off Sainz to take fourth in the Sprint.

The Australian was under pressure earlier in the season after being outperformed by RB team-mate Tsunoda, but he has hit form in the last two races and showed his class with a brilliant defensive display to keep in front of Sainz.

Sainz got alongside a few times throughout the Sprint but couldn’t find a way by and had to settle for fifth.

“Every big result always feels like it’s a needed one. It’s a happy feeling, it’s a powerful feeling,” Ricciardo told Sky Sports F1.

“Also to back up yesterday – Sprint Qualifying was obviously great, but to back it up over the course of a Sprint race, that’s even more satisfying. So it feels very good, and nice to also keep a few people quiet.”

Miami GP Sprint Result

Driver Team Time
1) Max Verstappen Red Bull 31:31.383
2) Charles Leclerc Ferrari +3.371
3) Sergio Perez Red Bull +5.095
4) Daniel Ricciardo RB +14.971
5) Carlos Sainz Ferrari +15.222
6) Oscar Piastri McLaren +15.750
7) Nico Hulkenberg Haas +22.054
8) Yuki Tsunoda RB +29.816
9) Pierre Gasly Alpine +31.880
10) Logan Sargeant Williams +34.355
11) Zhou Guanyu Sauber +35.078
12) George Russell Mercedes +35.755
13) Alex Albon Williams +36.086
14) Valtteri Bottas Sauber +36.892
15) Esteban Ocon Alpine +37.740
16) Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +49.347
17) Fernando Alonso Aston Martin +59.409
18) Kevin Magnussen Haas +66.303
19) Lance Stroll Aston Martin Did Not Finish
20) Lando Norris McLaren Did Not Finish

Sky Sports F1’s live Miami GP schedule

Saturday May 4
7.05pm: F1 Academy Race 1
8pm: Miami GP Qualifying build-up*
9pm: Miami GP Qualifying*
11pm: Ted’s Qualifying Notebook*

Sunday May 5
6.05pm: F1 Academy Race 2
7.30pm: Grand Prix Sunday Miami GP build-up*
9pm: The MIAMI GRAND PRIX*
11pm: Chequered Flag: Miami GP reaction*
Midnight: Ted’s Notebook*

*also live on Sky Sports Main Event

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