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Verstappen wins uneventful Miami Grand Prix


There's good news... and then there's bad news.

The good news is that heavy overnight rain has washed away almost all the rubber laid over the previous couple of days, which means that what was already promising to be a tense start just got that little bit more so.

On the other hand, the bad news is that not having learned its lesson at COTA in 2017, when boxing announcer Michael Buffer introduced the drivers to the crowd ahead of the race, a ceremony ahead of today's event will see American rapper LL Cool J introduce the boys... in five groups of four. After which will come the national anthem.

Swiftly moving on, as a precaution Ferrari opted to change the gearbox in Leclerc's car following his crash yesterday, the change having been made without penalty.

A couple of hours ago there was some light drizzle but nothing of any significance and it is thought that the rain previously being this afternoon predicted will not now arrive until long after the chequered flag.

LL Cool J aside, quite a few of the teams will be happy to get today's race out of the way and move on to Imola and the triple-header, not least Mercedes which plans the first stage of its update programme.

Both the drivers and team boss Toto Wolff have made no secret of how they feel about the W14, and today is likely to be about damage limitation.

Damage limitation is also likely to be the name of the game at McLaren, while Alpine, which got both drivers into Q3, will simply be hoping for an incident free afternoon.

With overtaking a major risk - even before last night's rain - the start was always going to be crucial, and other than the fact that we have Alonso very much in the mix, it's worth noting that neither he nor Perez or Sainz has a teammate close by to give support.

However, should that wily old fox Alonso get the jump on his rivals it could be an interesting afternoon.

Of course, Leclerc and Verstappen, starting from seventh and ninth are going to be worth watching, but this is a track that punishes the slightest mistake, as the Ferrari driver will testify.

Indeed, we've had offs, near misses and other incidents all weekend, following the merest deviation from the racing line.

Of course, the ever evolving track conditions, not to mention the red flag mean that we have some surprises at the front of the grid, not least Magnussen and Bottas, and, to a lesser extent, Gasly.

There is little room in F1 for sentiment, especially these days when it is all about money, but surely nobody would begrudge these three heading home with a few points.

Sick to death as were are of "the vibe", Miami is an interesting track. Yes, it is as featureless as many of the other new additions to the calendar, whilst also clearly intended for the corporate guest and celebs so beloved of Stefano and his team, but the temperatures, combined with that track surface and some challenging corners, make it an interesting track.

That said, one cannot help but shudder at the news that officials are in talks to turn the event into a night race, a move which would surely be purely about "the vibe".

According to Pirelli, as was the case last year, the fastest race strategy is a one-stopper, starting on mediums and switching hards between laps 12 and 20. A two-stopper is also worth considering: starting on the mediums, switching to hards between laps 10 and 16, and finishing on the softs from laps 35 to 43. An alternative could be with the softs for the last 11 to 16 laps of the race.

Of course, bearing in mind what we have already said, the teams will have to consider the strong possibility of a safety car, given that last year's Grand Prix was stopped twice.

The pitlane opens and the drivers begin to head out. Other than being overcast, it is noticeably windy.

An early lock-up for Hamilton, while Alonso is the first to take his place on the grid, the Spaniard clearly can't wait to get on with it.

Air temperature is 27 degrees C, while the track temperature is 36 degrees. There is a 10% chance of rain.

There's late drama in the shape of a water leak in the pitlane near the Aston Martin garage which has resulted in a large wet patch in the middle of the pitlane.

Needless to say, the pre-race ceremony is every bit as cringe as expected. And as for the national anthem... even the Pitpass cats covered their ears.

"Feels like a headwind into Turn 1," reports Hamilton.

OK, Perez, Alonso, Sainz, Magnussen, Gasly, Russell, Leclerc, Bottas, Albon, de Vries and Sargeant start on mediums. Ocon, Verstappen, Hulkenberg, Hamilton, Zhou, Tsunoda and Stroll are on hards, while Norris and Piastri are on softs. Alonso is on used mediums, while Stroll is on used hards, all the other tyres are brand spanking new.

They head off on the formation lap, all getting away cleanly.

Perez leads the field on to the grid. Russell already complaining of "lots of vibrations". And they aint good.

They're away. Perez gets the jump on Alonso, and as they head into Turn 1, the Mexican leads the Spaniard with Sainz tucked in behind and Magnussen sandwiched between Gasly and Russell.

At the back Norris runs wide in Turn 1 after being hit by de Vries after the AlphaTauri driver locks-up and collects the unsuspecting McLaren driver.

At the end of Lap 1, Perez leads Alonso, Sainz, Gasly, Russell, Leclerc, Magnussen, Bottas, Verstappen and Ocon.

Piastri has already made up 5 positions and is now running 14th.

Verstappen passes Bottas for 8th, as Perez builds a 1.3s lead.

"Think about the plan," Verstappen is told.

Sargeant pits at the end of Lap 2, the American changing his front wing.

Magnussen has passed Leclerc however, the Monegasque, who has Verstappen right behind, fights back. Courtesy of DRS and a good tow, the Dutchman takes advantage of the squabble to pass both cars as Leclerc struggles and eventually loses out to the Haas river.

Ocon passes Hulkenberg for tenth.

Hamilton complains of an unspecified issue which he feels will prevent him finishing the race. "Everything looks OK at the moment," he is assured."

Norris pits at the end of Lap 4 and his McLaren teammate a lap later. Both switch to hards.

Hamilton is concerned that his front wing might be damaged, but he is told that it might just be the wind.

Sainz is all over Alonso who is now 1.4s down on the leader.

A mistake sees Ocon cut the corner at Turn 5.

"OK, feels Plan A minus 12," reports Alonso.

Lap 7 sees Verstappen post a new fastest lap (32.555) as he closes to within 0.571s of Russell.

Hulkenberg runs wide as he battles Bottas for 10th.

Verstappen makes short work of Russell as the Briton continues to complain of a "big vibration".

The Dutchman makes short work of Gasly as they enter Turn 17, with Russell following through moments later.

Remember, Verstappen is on the hard tyre.

Check out our Sunday gallery from Miami here.


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1. Posted by kenji, 09/05/2023 0:56

"@ Cobra Driver...we certainly share the very same sentiments when it comes to mounting a challenge to the mainstream. Surely the Lib/FIA chaps are not thinking of more plastic driver presentations outside of the USA? I will gladly accept the 'cheerleader ladies' at any time though!"

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2. Posted by Cobra Driver, 08/05/2023 15:36

"@ kenji (lad)......Thank you for the kind comments. At my advanced age, one can get away with being a little edgy."

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3. Posted by kenji, 08/05/2023 14:36

"@ Cobra Driver... Yes...100% behind your observation re "pre race hoo har'. There has been only one worse example of pre race nonsense and that was the woke inspired 'knee' practice. Thankfully that's been discarded. Finally I thought for some time that I was possibly the oldest poster but alongside your tally I am but a mere lad hahaha. "

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4. Posted by Chester, 08/05/2023 12:38

"@ CobraDriver, inmates. That word rings true for Miami in so many ways."

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5. Posted by Cobra Driver, 08/05/2023 9:25

"In my 91 years on this orb, I have rarely been at a loss for words. Sunday's pre-race was one. The inmates are clearly in control.

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6. Posted by Spindoctor, 08/05/2023 8:35

"The pre-race "build up" focused mainly on how "great" it was to be in USA & how well they do this sort of thing. I've no particular objection to all the Barnhamesque hoopla, but it's pretty sad when it completely eclipses the racing. One comment in particular stood out as a leading driver (not Hamilton, strangely) said how important USA is to the financing of the Sport. Clearly in addition to driving, Excel skills are now important for Drivers....

My lifetime boycott of all things Murdoch meant I had to tolerate the fawning Channel 4 commentary which seemed to be of some other race. Of course, Verstappen won, watching him blitz past every other car as though they had the brakes on, made it clear why. More remarkable would have been his failure to win.... Otherwise, there was indeed lots of overtaking, but all that proved was that F1 is about more than overtaking: it was still essentially a processional bore fest.

Looking forward to coming back to Europe & some proper race tracks where the on-track action will be more interesting than the nominally periphera razzamatazz"

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7. Posted by kenji, 08/05/2023 2:45

"Like the Ed. I shall refrian from posting comments re the 'driver intro's' as they are best left unsaid. Apart from that the race exceeded the prior Baku event and there were less DRS trains than expected. The emergence of faster teams that have previously languished further back have really added some more spice to the racing. Presumably the cost cap is working, but to what degree is still a bit of a lottery. Overall a better race than expected. No doubt the Mercedes bleating will ramp up but it is really great to see them struggling at times when the 'lesser teams' give them a hard time. Hopefully the racing will get better once we are back in Europe. Roll on Imola....and more Alonso magic. The racers' racer with pit bull tenacity."

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8. Posted by Defiant, 08/05/2023 0:23

"I only watched the highlights on YT and apart from KMag I was just about bored enough to turn that off half way through. Miami is just another dreary snore fest like Baku.
Fiberty are moronic, uncouth, money grabbing yanks ruining this sport. If I lived in Miami, a block from the track, I still wouldn’t have attended. Not even for 40% off tickets. I’d save that money and use it for travel money to go to CotA."

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9. Posted by Chester, 07/05/2023 23:40

"Not a lot of excitement unless you're a Verstappen fan or a Ferrari fan where your excitement was wincing at being passed by a supposedly "poor" W14.

More passing than Baku through the field. I didn't mind the drivers being announced either in Austin or today, but then again I'm an unsophisticated American."

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10. Posted by jo6pac, 07/05/2023 22:16

"Well this shows we need more none passing tracks in parking lots in Amerika for next year;-)

I read they were selling tickets at 40% off. Anyone know more?"

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