Race Report: Verstappen wins Miami GP

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There was a lot to talk about regarding the Formula 1 Miami Grand Prix. Even if you didn’t want to talk about it, it was so on point and on brand, you couldn’t help but talk about it such was the marketing and hype surrounding the Hard Rock stadium and the new Super Bowl of F1.

If the fake marina, sandy beach, bumpy track, grumpy asphalt, jewelry ban, underpants mandate, celebrity entourages and podium football helmets weren’t enough for you, then maybe you might have seen a decent race with some nice driving.

On Friday, Ferrari looked to be having a good performance with their high downforce set up while Red Bull were banking on their low downforce, straight-line speed down the straights. In the end, I chose Red Bull for the win in my fantasy GP league but Charles Leclerc had me questioning that pick all weekend long.

While pundits made a lot of the straight-line speed advantage that Red Bull had versus Ferrari’s advantage in the slower, twisty bits, I reckoned the other major issue could be the hot weather and Ferraris’ struggles with tire wear/degradation. The pundits were correct, mind you, Red Bull did have a strong advantage down the straights but I was worried that Ferrari’s tire management may remove much of their advantage on long runs even in the twisty bits. I think I was somewhat correct.

After a late safety car, Leclerc did make a run for the lead and it was a good battle up front with their teammates, Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz trailing. Max was able to keep Leclerc behind him for the win with Charles and Carlos in second and third.

Win

A big win for Max and Red Bull who needed to recover and gain points in both championships. The low-downforce gamble worked a treat and it was almost like they read Ferrari’s data in order to gauge if that straight advantage would cover the slow-speed advantage Ferrari had as it was just enough. Sergio suffered with a sensor issue but made a good effort at Sainz and to finish 4th was a good result given the issues.

I know it’s hard to give Mercedes a win given where they’ve been the last eight years but if you consider where they started this season, George Russel’s recovery from 12th to 5th was a decent run. Even a better strategy call from driver and team to wait for a Virtual Safety Car period, which did come prompting his pit stop, and gave Russell a much-needed leg up in track position and fresh tires. Lewis wasn’t as lucky as the VSC turned into a full Safety Car period and he was not able to get fresh tires. It’s the little things like Lewis’s comment to the team that this strategy isn’t helping him. Doesn’t sound like much but that won’t be lost on the team members in his garage.

A win for Alfa Romeo and Valtteri Bottas for a nice 7th but to be fair, it would have been higher had he not cooked a corner late in the race. Still, great points but it has to sting a little bit to throw away a 5th place finish ahead of his old team.

Good result for Alpine despite a ragged race from Fernando Alonso who finished behind his teammate, Esteban Ocon, in 8th and 9th.

A terrific result for Alex Albon who gave Williams a point and did a terrific job on track and with strategy.

Fail

A fail for Ferrari who looked to have the overall pace on Friday and pole position. Ultimately they have the car to compete with Red Bull if they can solve their drag issue as well as their tire wear/degradation rate. Charles Leclerc was 10/10th’s all day and even Carlos Sainz looked better than the past few races so they were moving in the right direction but there are a couple of fine details they need to solve.

MIAMI INTERNATIONAL AUTODROME, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA – MAY 08: Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18, leads Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75 during the Miami GP at Miami International Autodrome on Sunday May 08, 2022 in Miami, United States of America. (Photo by Zak Mauger / LAT Images)

A fail for Pierre Gasly and Lando Norris who were running decent but clouted each other (I assume Gasly didn’t see Lando). Teammate Yuki Tsunoda had an equally miserable day.

A fail for Haas at their home race as they were both running in the points and both drivers threw it away with ragged driving. Mick Schumacher had a terrific race going and tossed it all with an ill-advised move on Sebastian Vettel.

A fail for Aston Martin. Knowing they control the temperature of their fuel prior to putting it in their cars, it sounds like someone really missed the mark on that and spoiled the race for both cars. Brutal.

WTH

Once again, I’ve said it a million times, you can’t take F1 to America, you have to take America to F1. While I think the Miami GP was a very successful race on many levels, it’s the schmaltzy American hype and gimmicks that suggest that wealthy people bought a race but really don’t know what they are buying or how best to join the F1 global community. Football helmets, fake beaches and marina, police escort with blaring sirens to a podium that seemed like it was in a different zip code were all elements of this race, including handing out paddock passes like they were free flyers, that make it slightly embarrassing to be an American F1 fan.

It’s that bravado of, “let’s show them how we do things in America” that is the very thing that turns people off…including F1 fans in America. You have to have more poise than just treating this like a Monster Energy marketing activation with a “fan experience”. All that is BS and the race should respect, honor and enrich F1’s heritage while exposing F1 to Miami’s unique cultural heritage and glamor for a meaningful and long-lasting relationship. Gimmicky schmaltz and baubles is an insult to Miami and F1.

I see celebrities, or certain celebrities, still haven’t found the humility button on the grid which is incredibly base behavior.

I understand why they had Danica Patrick on the show and I think she is a fine person (I don’t know her personally) but the challenge is that it is clear she doesn’t follow F1 as close as a lead commentator needs to in order to add relevant content and context. Like I said, I understand wanting to have an American voice on the show but there may have been other American racers with a deeper insight to F1. She did a fine job but reading social media, she wasn’t giving people a warm and fuzzy.

Overall, I thought it was a good race but I think Miami can tone it down a bit and work on the things that matter, the track, the surface and the corners.

Pirelli Tire Story:

  • It’s three wins from three race finishes for Red Bull’s Max Verstappen: he claimed the inaugural Miami Grand Prix from third on the grid with just one pit stop from the P Zero Yellow medium to the P Zero White hard. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz finished second and third on a similar strategy. All three podium finishers received a special Pirelli American Football helmet at the prize-giving ceremony held in the iconic Miami Dolphins stadium.
  • A two-stopper was expected as the quickest strategy before the race, but the drivers managed to stretch their opening stints on the medium tyre – which most chose to start the race – without compromising performance, so that they could then run on the hard tyre all the way to the finish. An alternative approach was adopted by Mercedes driver George Russell, the highest-placed of just four drivers to start on the hard. He switched to the medium after 40 laps to finish fifth from P12 on the grid.
  • As hoped for by many, a Virtual Safety Car and then Safety Car period towards the end of the race created opportunities by allowing drivers a ‘cheap’ pit stop, and several took advantage to change onto fresh tyres. These included Russell and Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, who finished in fourth as the best-placed two-stopper.
  • Temperatures were still warm for the race but not quite as hot as they had been for the previous days: the grand prix got underway with 34 degrees ambient and around 48 degrees on track. There was a high degree of humidity and some risk of rain predicted, but this never actually materialised.

Miami GP Results:

PosNameCarLapsLaps LedTotal TimeFastest LapPitstopsPts
1Max VerstappenRed Bull57481h34m24.258s1m31.361s126
2Charles LeclercFerrari578+3.786s1m31.488s118
3Carlos Sainz Jr.Ferrari571+8.229s1m31.79s115
4Sergio PérezRed Bull570+10.638s1m31.819s212
5George RussellMercedes570+18.582s1m32.195s110
6Lewis HamiltonMercedes570+21.368s1m32.941s18
7Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo-Ferrari570+25.073s1m33.184s16
8Esteban OconAlpine-Renault570+28.386s1m33.163s14
9Fernando AlonsoAlpine-Renault570+32.128s1m33.331s12
10Alex AlbonWilliams-Mercedes570+32.365s1m33.447s11
11Daniel RicciardoMcLaren-Mercedes570+35.902s1m33.265s20
12Lance StrollAston Martin-Mercedes570+37.026s1m33.312s10
13Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Red Bull570+40.146s1m33.035s20
14Nicholas LatifiWilliams-Mercedes570+49.936s1m34.169s10
15Mick SchumacherHaas-Ferrari570+1m13.305s1m32.528s20
Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari560DNF1m33.511s30
Sebastian VettelAston Martin-Mercedes540DNF1m33.479s20
Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Red Bull450DNF1m34.487s30
Lando NorrisMcLaren-Mercedes390DNF1m33.411s10
Guanyu ZhouAlfa Romeo-Ferrari50DNF1m35.731s10

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Fred

The price of a ticket will keep most of us away, especially since I can choose Austin (which I’d rather be at) or maybe Vegas, which is actually closer to me.

Xean Drury

In my opinion, this was a good race despite the track. It was reminiscent of Paul Ricard, where every corner looked so same-same, that it was hard to tell if the feed was live or a replay of the previous corner. I completely agree with your WTF section. They had me up to Foot Ball Helmets, then I had to turn it off. I just couldn’t. Though it does make me wonder if the Dolphins will get steering wheels to celebrate with on their next win. Donkey of the Season has to be a media company that chooses the worst… Read more »

Neil Clarke

Most of the so called celeb’s on the grid either have really bad managers, that they need to fire, or they just don’t listen to what they’re being told. If they actually realised just how far and wide the reach of F1 goes, there’s no way that so many of them would have been quite as rude when Brundle was doing his grid walk. In their position, I would have been making the most of trying to extend the reach of my “brand” by talking his ear off about who I was and what I do, even if just for… Read more »

Matthew

The football helmets on the drivers were dumb. Dan Marino and the autographed Dolphins helmet were cool. Even if the winner isn’t too/at all aware of an old NFLer, having legit sports ambassadors seems good. As for the gridwalk, MB does himself no favors with those celebrities. He had long-time F1 sponsor Richard Mille in front of him. No questions of Leclerc getting his watch stolen or Mille’s personal and brand attachment to the sport? Instead let himself look like an uninformed interviewer and let Pharrell look like a jerk (even if he is a jerk, MB shouldn’t try to… Read more »

charlie w

I’m glad I didn’t watch the podium ceremony. Football helmets-ugh! I have said this before and I’ll say it again-Sky Sports need to place an American(anyone) with Martin Brundle when he does his pit walks here. That person’s sole job is to identify American celebrities(show or sports). Now the rest of the world knows how we Americans feel when Martin is talking to some Premier League footballer and UK actor in a BBC series: lost! Speaking of Americans on television, Sky should pull Hobbs or Varsha(if he’s healthy enough) to join the broadcast crew for the American races. End of… Read more »

Fabio

The race itself wasn’t too bad, good to see the cars able to follow each other closely.
I’m not a fan of the fiddly chicane under the freeway (can’t remember the corner number) but it really didn’t suit an F1 car, just clunky.

I would include a Fail for McLaren, as they were nowhere.

As for the hype and glitz, well to be kind, I’d say it was ‘tacky at best’, and wouldn’t make me want to visit Miami.

Last edited 3 months ago by Fabio
Peter

I know I’m a broken record, but Turn 1, Max bumps (almost…, but forced anyway) Sainz off track.
Bumper cars Max, as always.

Fabio

Just went back and watched some of the onboard highlights.
MAG and STR bumped into each other three times (I’m surprised they had any parts of their sidepods left) and MSC took out VET, what is it with these two teams!

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Race Report: Verstappen wins Miami GPThere are kinks to work out but on the balance, it was a good race. Sure, the pomp and panache was OTT but hopefully they can tame that down like the track and a few corners next year.
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