Miami GP: Verstappen holds off Leclerc to claim victory

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Max Verstappen took the lead early on and held off Charles Leclerc in the closing laps to win the first-ever Miami Grand Prix.

Starting third, the Red Bull driver passed both Ferraris within the first 10 laps and overcame a period of pressure following a Safety Car to win his third race of the season.

Race Review

Before the start, a fuel temperature problem meant both Aston Martins started from the pitlane

Leclerc held the lead into Turn 1 as Verstappen snatched P2 from Carlos Sainz through the first three corners.

Lewis Hamilton had a poor start losing two places to Pierre Gasly and Fernando Alonso but quickly regained them as DRS was enabled in the opening lap.

As the tyres began to wear on the Ferrari, Verstappen attacked Leclerc and made a nice move for the lead into Turn 1.

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A loss of power for Sergio Perez saw the Mexican lose seven seconds behind the two Ferraris in fourth.

While many midfield drivers started on medium tyres, George Russell was one of only four drivers to start on the hard compound.

Having made his way into the top six, an accident between Lando Norris and Pierre Gasly brought out the Safety Car enabling the Briton to pit and resume behind teammate Hamilton in seventh.

The accident was caused by the Frenchman running wide through Turns 5-8 after contact with Fernando Alonso and colliding with the McLaren on the inside as he rejoined the track.

Perez, who was still lacking power after his earlier sensor issue, also took the opportunity to pit for a second time for fresh tyres and a big performance advantage over the top three on used hards.

At the restart, Leclerc upped the pressure on Verstappen for the lead but didn’t quite get close enough to go wheel-to-wheel.

In the closing laps, the world champion was then too quick for the Ferrari, going on to take victory by 2.5s.

Perez couldn’t quite get enough of a straight-line speed edge over Sainz to pull alongside as the Spaniard came out on top in the battle for the final podium place in third.

A mistake by Valtteri Bottas at Turn 17 allowed both Mercedes’ through into fifth and sixth, with Russell using his fresher tyres also to pass Hamilton for P5.

The Finn had to settle for seventh as Esteban Ocon, on the same strategy as George, came from the back of the grid to finish eighth.

A five-second penalty dropped Alonso behind his Alpine teammate into ninth ahead of Alex Albon, who scored his and Williams’ second point of the season in P10.

Further down, an extended first stint didn’t pay off for Daniel Ricciardo in 11th.

Mick Schumacher was on course for his first points in F1 before a collision with Sebastian Vettel broke his front wing and forced the Aston Martin into retirement.

The Haas driver finished 15th with teammate Kevin Magnussen retiring in the closing laps.

Gasly also stopped soon after the crash with Norris and Zhou Guanyu was forced to retire with a mechanical issue early on.

Back at the front, it was another faultless race from Verstappen to reduce Leclerc’s championship lead to just 19 points ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix in two weeks' time!