Leclerc takes home victory at the Monaco Grand Prix

Charles Leclerc finally wins his home race at Monaco after many set backs at this event. This year’s Formula 1 race wasn’t the most exciting and was largely processional following a red flag and yet this street race victory is special to the Scuderia Ferrari driver.

An ecstatic Leclerc crossed the finishing line 7.1 seconds clear of Oscar Piastri to claim his first-ever victory at the Monaco Grand Prix, after overcoming the McLaren driver at two standing starts after an early red flag, and then set the pace sufficiently to deny a tactical advantage.

Despite periods of pressure from Piastri over the 76 laps of uninterrupted running following the early stoppage, Leclerc absorbed it all and did enough to anticipate a potential McLaren upset by backing up the pack to prevent a potential pitstop window.

In the final stages, Leclerc dropped Piastri to build up a gap that surpassed eight seconds, before electing to back off and “bring it home” to win.

“No words can explain that,” Leclerc said after the race. “It’s such a difficult race, I think the fact that twice I’ve been starting on pole and I couldn’t make it makes it a lot better.

“It was a difficult race emotionally, because already 15 laps from the end you’re hoping nothing happens. I was thinking a lot more to my dad than a lot more when I was driving.

“At first, we had quite a lot of margin but there was 78 laps to do. There was a big portion of the race where I had to manage the gap with George, but then I could push a lot more.”

A first-lap shunt produced the early red flag, as Kevin Magnussen attempted to squeeze his Haas down the inside of Sergio Perez at Beau Rivage. The two made contact. Perez’s car sustained heavy damage as he was tipped into the opposite wall, and also wiped out Nico Hulkenberg in the process.

Heavy damage to the barriers created a 40-minute delay to the race, but that proved not to be the only moment on the opening lap: Carlos Sainz also sustained a front-left puncture into Turn 1 while attempting to pass Oscar Piastri for second, which sent him to the back of the field as he initially pulled over at Casino Square.

The Ferrari driver was handed a lucky break when he was reinstated to his third-place grid slot at the restart.

This changed the dynamic of the race considerably as the field swapped tyres to satisfy the rule necessitating both compounds to be run, theoretically ensuring that everyone could run to the end without stopping.

As such, a tactical game emerged between the Ferraris and McLarens as they tried to deny and create a pitstop window respectively; Leclerc was tasked with slowing the pace down to limit the possibility that Lando Norris could clear George Russell sufficiently to get a free pitstop.

As the laps flew by, McLaren’s chance of causing an upset by giving Norris fresh tyres was reduced as Carlos Sainz did his bit to keep Norris from making further progress on Russell – the gap stalling at about 15 seconds.

With ten laps to go and with no chance for the McLarens to make a stop, Leclerc held his nerve to win – and left Piastri in the clutches of Sainz, who also still had Norris sat on his tail. But neither Sainz nor Norris could make a challenge to claim P2, giving Piastri second.

George Russell held on for fifth after holding off Max Verstappen for over 25 laps despite the Red Bull driver having fresher tyres; Lewis Hamilton’s stop from seventh thanks to a free pitstop window to Yuki Tsunoda gave Verstappen the chance to stop too, but the defending champion could not make the most of his newer hard tyres to mount a pass. Hamilton retained seventh as a result.

Tsunoda claimed eighth after absorbing pressure from Alex Albon throughout the opening 70 laps of the race, banking tyre life in the process to leave the Williams driver for dust in the race’s final act. Through Albon, Williams secured its first points of the season – also the team’s first scoring finish at Monaco since 2017.

Pierre Gasly survived a first-lap encounter with Alpine teammate Esteban Ocon to score the final point. Ocon attempted a lunge at Portier on the opening lap to make tyre-to-tyre contact – which sent him slightly airborne and ultimately caused his retirement.

So congratulations to Charles Leclerc in finally winning his home race. This is fantastic result for the Ferrari driver after setting the pace from opening practice to getting pole in qualifying and this race victory is the perfect way to sign off this Monaco Grand Prix.

Monaco Grand Prix, race results:
1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 2:23:15.554
2 Oscar Piastri McLaren +7.152s
3 Carlos Sainz Ferrari +7.585s
4 Lando Norris McLaren +8.650s
5 George Russell Mercedes +13.309s
6 Max Verstappen Red Bull +13.853s
7 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +14.908s
8 Yuki Tsunoda RB +1 lap
9 Alexander Albon Williams +1 lap
10 Pierre Gasly Alpine +1 lap
11 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin +2 laps
12 Daniel Ricciardo RB +2 laps
13 Valtteri Bottas Sauber +2 laps
14 Lance Stroll Aston Martin +2 laps
15 Logan Sargeant Williams +2 laps
16 Zhou Guanyu Sauber +2 laps
Esteban Ocon Alpine DNF
Sergio Perez Red Bull DNF
Nico Hulkenberg Haas DNF
Kevin Magnussen Haas DNF

Leclerc scores 250th pole for Ferrari at Monaco

Charles Leclerc achieved Scuderia Ferrari’s 250th pole position in Formula 1 by taking the top spot for the Monaco Grand Prix. The home favourite edged out Oscar Piastri in the McLaren with Carlos Sainz only third quickest.

The Scuderia Ferrari driver was in zone throughout the Friday and Saturday sessions in Monaco, and built up his speed over the sessions to eventually set a time with one minute, 10.270 seconds – a tenth shy of Lewis Hamilton’s record pole time set in 2019.

“It was nice, the feeling after a qualifying lap is always very special here,” Leclerc said. “I’m really happy about the lap.”

“Qualifying is not everything, as much as it helps Sunday’s race we need to put it all together tomorrow. I need a good launch and when we do that, hopefully Carlos [Sainz] can follow me and put us in a 1-2. If we are 1-2 we can control the race.”

Oscar Piastri was closest challenger to Leclerc, but was just shy of taking the Ferrari in the battle for pole.

Max Verstappen struggled throughout the Monaco Grand Prix weekend with the ride of his Red Bull throughout the final two sectors, but ultimately came unstuck in the opening sector of his final lap where he narrowly survived a shunt with the Sainte Devote exit barrier. This forced the championship leader to abort his lap, and suffered a drop down the order.

Carlos Sainz took third position, while Lando Norris made it into the top four after recovering from a late breakout from the Q1 drop zone.

George Russell also outqualified Verstappen as Mercedes seemed in stronger form throughout the Monaco weekend thus far, although Lewis Hamilton could not quite jump his old title rival and had to be content with seventh.

Yuki Tsunoda took eighth over Alex Albon, who ran off-sequence in Q3 to claim a lap good enough for ninth, as Pierre Gasly completed the top ten.

Gasly knocked out his Alpine teammate Esteban Ocon in Q2 with a late lap that booked the ex-AlphaTauri driver’s place in the top ten shootout. Ocon joined Nico Hulkenberg, Daniel Ricciardo, Lance Stroll, and Kevin Magnussen in the bottom five of the qualifying session.

Fernando Alonso and Sergio Perez were the biggest losers in Q1, as both drivers were left exposed towards the end of the session by their inability to find a competitive lap.

Alonso’s final lap initially set him into P13, but he drop down the order as a host of other drivers shook off the pressure to improve at the final of the 18-minute session. This push the Aston Martin driver, who was so close in taking pole last year, down into P16.

Perez spent the majority of the session towards the back of the order and, after falling into the drop zone, could not climb out as his final lap of the session failed.

The two were separated by Logan Sargeant, as Sauber duo Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu propped up the order.

Congratulations to Charles Leclerc in taking pole position for the Monaco Grand Prix. This was an important qualifying session of the season as overtaking around Monte Carlo is near impossible so starting at the front is the perfect chance to win. With the world champion Max Verstappen only on row three, it is looking good for the Ferrari driver to triump. Bring on race day.

Monaco Grand Prix, qualifying results:
1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:10.270
2 Oscar Piastri McLaren 1:10.424
3 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:10.518
4 Lando Norris Red Bull 1:10.542
5 George Russell Mercedes 1:10.543
6 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:10.567
7 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:10.621
8 Yuki Tsunoda RB 1:10.858
9 Alexander Albon Williams 1:10.948
10 Pierre Gasly Alpine 1:11.311
11 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:11.285
12 Nico Hulkenberg Haas 1:11.440
13 Daniel Ricciardo RB 1:11.482
14 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:11.563
15 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:11.725
16 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 1:12.019
17 Logan Sargeant Williams 1:12.020
18 Sergio Perez Red Bull 1:12.060
19 Valtteri Bottas Sauber 1:12.512
20 Zhou Guanyu Sauber 1:13.028

Verstappen wins in Imola after fending off Norris

Triple Formula 1 champion Max Verstappen scored victory at Imola after surviving a late race challenge from McLaren’s Lando Norris. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc finished third to the cheer of the tifosi.

Higher tyre degradation than expected compared to when Red Bull struggled badly for car balance in practice on Friday appeared to ease Verstappen’s path, as he was also boosted by the setup work completed at his team’s factory ahead of qualifying.

Norris did mount an exciting late-race charge as he worked his hard tyres better than Verstappen in the second of two stints, but the defending champion held on to win by 0.7 seconds.

At the start, Norris did gain slightly on polesitter Verstappen when they reacted to the five red lights, but his line took him to the outside of the track’s first braking point at the Tamburello chicane where he could not get near enough to make an attack.

As Leclerc and his Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz slotted in behind the leaders, Verstappen was clear enough to prevent Norris of DRS even when it was activated on lap two of 63.

Verstappen then just up his race pace from his rival to build his lead to 6.5 seconds by lap 22 – although he did make his life harder later in the race for abusing track limits to such an extent he was formally warned by the FIA.

Norris initially dropped Leclerc in the first stint before the Ferrari closed back in, with Norris becoming the first of the leaders to pit on lap 22 to go from the mediums they had all started on to the hards, with Verstappen coming in two laps later.

Leclerc was left out until lap 25, which meant Norris eased away pushing early in the second stint and Sainz stopping even later meant Oscar Piastri undercut the Ferrari for fourth – having chased Sainz closely for most of the first stint.

Verstappen started the final stint with a 5.6 seconds lead thanks to Lando’s earlier stop, with the Red Bull driver then rebuilding his lead over the next stage, although not as rapidly as at the start.

Indeed, at this stage, Leclerc reduced into what had been a three-second Norris advantage post-pitstop and got to within DRS range of the McLaren by lap 43.

But an off at the Variante Alta chicane shortly afterwards stopped Leclerc’s momentum, just when Lando’s hard tyre stint was transformed and he started to quickly catch Verstappen, who complained that his tyre compound did not work.

Norris pushed hard – saving several wild moments at the track’s first two chicanes as the race traversed its final five laps – but he wound up just short, with Leclerc finishing 7.1 seconds further back in third.

Piastri came home 6.2 seconds back from Leclerc, while Sainz ended falling back to 8.2 seconds off in the McLaren.

Lewis Hamilton had a trip through the Acque Mineral gravel on his way to sixth, with his Mercedes teammate George Russell stopping for a second time late on and dropping down to seventh position, but with enough pace back on the mediums to secure the fastest lap bonus point.

Sergio Perez rescued just eighth from his P11 grid starting spot – the Red Bull driver starting on an alternative strategy and running long on hards, with most of the frontrunners easily battling by him after they pitted before he himself climbed on the mediums for the races second half.

Alex Albon was the race’s only retirement – the Williams driver having his race ruined by a stop/go penalty for leaving his first stop with a loose wheel, after which he went back to the pits slowly and ended up two laps down before he was withdrawn 10 laps from the end.

So an exciting end to the Imola race with the chase from Lando Norris and yet Max Verstappen held his nerve to win. Congratulations to Red Bull Racing in winning after a tricky start to the weekend. Hard work paid off with this triumph.

Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, race results:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:25:25.252
2 Lando Norris McLaren +0.725s
3 Charles Leclerc Ferrari +7.916s
4 Oscar Piastri McLaren +14.132s
5 Carlos Sainz Ferrari +22.325s
6 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +35.104s
7 George Russell Mercedes +47.154s
8 Sergio Perez Red Bull +54.776s
9 Lance Stroll Aston Martin +79.556s
10 Yuki Tsunoda RB +1 lap
11 Nico Hulkenberg Haas +1 lap
12 Kevin Magnussen Haas +1 lap
13 Daniel Ricciardo RB +1 lap
14 Esteban Ocon Alpine +1 lap
15 Zhou Guanyu Sauber +1 lap
16 Pierre Gasly Alpine +1 lap
17 Logan Sargeant Williams +1 lap
18 Valtteri Bottas Sauber +1 lap
19 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin +1 lap
20 Alex Albon Williams DNF

Verstappen takes Imola pole from the McLarens

Max Verstappen earned his eighth successive pole position for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix beating both McLarens at Imola.

After struggling on Friday in a tricky practice sessions, the Red Bull worked on the RB20 setup and Max Verstappen delivered the result with pole on Saturday.

Verstappen needed late efforts to set his best times in the opening two parts of qualifying, but led from the off in Q3 – his first run at a time of one minute, 14.869 seconds ahead of Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc.

The Ferrari drivers then headed the pack on the final efforts, where Leclerc could not recover enough time from missing his personal best in the first sector and stayed third.

Behind, Verstappen set purple sectors in the first two thirds of the lap but slight error through the final corner – Rivazza 2 – meant he was vulnerable even as he improved the top time to one minute, 14.746 seconds.

Miami Grand Prix winner Norris also improved but paid the price for a slower middle sector than he had managed on his opening go in Q3, with Oscar Piastri then stealing ahead of his teammate and Leclerc as he beat Verstappen in the final sector to end up 0.074 seconds adrift.

Despite setting the second quickest time, the race stewards have decided to penalise Piastri with a three-place grid drop after impeding Kevin Magnussen late in Q1. This penalty promotes his McLaren teammate Norris onto the front row.

Behind the trio came Carlos Sainz, George Russell and Yuki Tsunoda, who had shone with a rapid Q2 time before fading from the lead fight.

Next came Lewis Hamilton in eighth, Daniel Ricciardo in ninth and Nico Hulkenberg rounding out the top ten.

Verstappen topped Q2 ahead of Leclerc, in which Sergio Perez was knocked out despite setting his best time at the end of the middle segment.

Esteban Ocon, Lance Stroll, Alex Albon and Pierre Gasly were also eliminated at this stage.

In Q1, which Verstappen led also ahead of Leclerc when the Ferraris progressed on the mediums, last-gasp personal bests were not enough to save Valtteri Bottas, Logan Sargeant and Zhou Guanyu in 16-17-18.

Magnussen ended up P19 ahead of Fernando Alonso, who missed the start of the opening segment as Aston Martin worked to repair the car he had damaged during his FP3 crash.

But the 2005 race winner abandoned his final effort as he failed to improve on his personal best late on having made a mistake and gone through the Tamburello exit gravel on his second attempt.

Sargeant later got his lap time deleted and was demoted to last position on the grid.

So a dramatic turnaround for Red Bull with Max struggling in FP1 and FP2, but when the matter counts, the triple champion produced the result to take pole.

Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, qualifying results:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:14.746
2 Lando Norris McLaren 1:14.837
3 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:14.970
4 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:15.233
5 Oscar Piastri McLaren 1:14.820*
6 George Russell Mercedes 1:15.234
7 Yuki Tsunoda RB 1:15.465
8 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:15.504
9 Daniel Ricciardo RB 1:15.674
10 Nico Hulkenberg Haas 1:15.980
11 Sergio Perez Red Bull 1:15.706
12 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:15.906
13 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:15.992
14 Alex Albon Williams 1:16.200
15 Pierre Gasly Alpine 1:16.381
16 Valtteri Bottas Sauber 1:16.626
17 Zhou Guanyu Sauber 1:16.834
18 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:16.854
19 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 1:16.917
20 Logan Sargeant Williams No time
*Three-place grid penalty for impeding Kevin Magnussen

Norris achieves his first victory in the Miami Grand Prix

Lando Norris finally scored his first Formula 1 race victory in the 2024 Miami Grand Prix, thanks to the mid-race safety car which helped the McLaren driver to beat Max Verstappen.

The victory ends Lando’s streak as having the most podiums without a Grand Prix victory, with McLaren scoring its first such win since the 2021 Italian Grand Prix after Oscar Piastri’s 2023 Qatar sprint race success.

At the start, Verstappen made a smooth getaway while Leclerc fell backwards off the start line and got swamped before the late-braking Sergio Perez nearly wiped out Verstappen and pushed others including Norris wide at Turn 1, which allowed Leclerc back to second.

As Verstappen escaped to a healthy lead of a few seconds, Piastri edged ahead of Sainz as the first corners of lap one of 57 unfolded to run third behind Leclerc.

The Ferrari driver then slid around more on the mediums all the leaders had started on and without DRS to Verstappen ahead Piastri was able to pass by and then led the Ferrari drivers for much of the first stint.

Behind, Perez held up Norris a bit further back from the fight for second before he became the first of the leaders to pit for hards on lap 17.

Leclerc, who Sainz wanted to be waved by, then pitted at the end of lap 19, shortly after which Verstappen made a mistake at the chicane, knocking a bollard off the kerb and carrying it through his car until he reached the exit of Turn 16.

When this fell off a virtual safety car was called so the marshals could retrieve the bollard, after which Verstappen stopped at the end of lap 23.

Four laps later, Piastri and Sainz pitted, which meant Norris, who had been reducing Sainz’s previous advantage with a string of fastest laps, moved into the lead.

His race was then transformed when Kevin Magnussen and Logan Sargeant collided at Turn 2, with the Haas driver penalised for leaving his nose alongside the right rear of the Williams as they headed off to Turn 3, with the contact pitching Sargeant off backwards and the wreckage having to be cleared under the safety car.

McLaren was able to pit Norris then, although he did a full lap at the safety car delta speed before coming in to switch to the hards and subsequently getting out ahead of Verstappen, who had been picked up by the safety car before he and the rest were waved through.

The race restarted on lap 33, with Norris having to defend hard at Turn 1’s inside against Verstappen’s attack before the McLaren driver was able to shoot clear to escape DRS over the first lap back at racing speed.

Leclerc was close enough to Verstappen to have a look to Turn 11’s inside on this lap before he dropped back out of DRS to the Red Bull and it became a fight at the front.

But Norris’s hards being six laps younger provided a critical advantage, as ten laps later his lead had reached the three-second mark – his rival ruing his RB20 understeering on the hards, a situation Verstappen called a “disaster” over his team radio.

With five laps left, Norris’s lead was up to 6.1 seconds and he continued to pull away to a final winning margin of 7.6 seconds, with Leclerc 2.3 seconds further back in third.

Sainz ended up fourth after two controversial battles with Piastri post-restart. Then first involved both drivers going deep at Turn 11 on lap 34, with Sainz feeling he was pushed off but the stewards not deeming the incident worthy of a penalty.

On lap 39, Sainz attacked at Turn 17 at the end of the back straight but lost the rear of his car and, as it swung around it, hit Piastri’s front wing and broke it, with both drivers able to continue battling to Turn 1 where Piastri went deep and Sainz could run clear.

Piastri was then passed by Perez and a resurgent Lewis Hamilton at Turn 11 shortly afterwards, with McLaren soon pitting him to replace his front wing and dropping him to the back of the field.

Oscar battled back to finish P13 – McLaren warning him during fights not to have another clash and risk the safety car reappearing and erasing his team-mate’s lead.

Another safety car stopper, Yuki Tsunoda, finished seventh, ahead of George Russell and Fernando Alonso, who fought his way by Esteban Ocon late on.

With P10, Ocon scores Alpine’s first point of the 2024 season.

So congratulations to Lando Norris in winning his first Formula 1 race. Been a long time coming and yet fully deserved it. Brilliant team effort by McLaren and this result is an excellent reward for the hard work. Hopefully the first of many for Lando.

Miami Grand Prix, race results:
1 Lando Norris McLaren 1:30:49.876
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull +7.612s
3 Charles Leclerc Ferrari +9.920s
4 Carlos Sainz Ferrari +11.407s
5 Sergio Perez Red Bull +14.650s
6 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +16.585s
7 Yuki Tsunoda RB +26.185s
8 George Russell Mercedes +34.789s
9 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin +37.107s
10 Esteban Ocon Alpine +39.746s
11 Nico Hulkenberg Haas +40.789s
12 Pierre Gasly Alpine +44.958s
13 Oscar Piastri McLaren +49.756s
14 Zhou Guanyu Sauber +49.979s
15 Daniel Ricciardo RB +50.956s
16 Valtteri Bottas Sauber +52.356s
17 Lance Stroll Aston Martin +55.173s
18 Kevin Magnussen Haas +64.683s
19 Alex Albon Williams +76.091s
Logan Sargeant Williams DNF

Verstappen takes his sixth pole

Max Verstappen achieved his sixth pole position of the season by taking his usual spot in qualifying for the Miami Grand Prix, beating both Ferraris.

Verstappen posted a time of one minute, 27.241 seconds to lead Charles Leclerc by 0.141 seconds on the first runs in Q3, where they were trailed by Carlos Sainz.

On the final runs, although Verstappen set the session’s fastest time in the first sector, the leading trio could not better their previous best times – Leclerc in particular having a wild time on this final lap.

Sergio Perez did find time on his final Q3 go to jump to fourth position, while Lando Norris took fifth having run mediums on his first Q3 effort.

This pair improving shuffled Oscar Piastri down to sixth on the second Q3 runs, while the Mercedes duo of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton took seventh and eighth.

Both Mercedes drivers had to run mediums for the last Q3 laps after running out of new soft compound, but only Hamilton went quicker with the yellow-walled tyres.

Behind, Nico Hulkenberg was ninth and Yuki Tsunoda took tenth, with the only significant incident in Q3 being Sainz getting cleared of impeding Hulkenberg at Turn 17 late on.

In Q2, Russell’s last-gasp effort knocked out Lance Stroll, who was joined by Alpine pair Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon – both drivers failing to set personal best times on their final runs in the middle segment.

Behind, Alex Albon’s late personal best pushed Fernando Alonso down to P15.

In Q1, Alonso just managed to get through with an 0.01 seconds ahead of Valtteri Bottas in P15 and P16, with home hero Logan Sargeant eliminated in P17 behind Bottas.

Sprint qualifying and race hero Daniel Ricciardo was also knocked out in P18, complaining of lacking rear grip. The RB driver will drop down to last on the grid following a three-place grid penalty for overtaking under safety car conditions in the previous race at China.

Kevin Magnussen lost time with traffic at the final corner on his last Q1 lap, while Zhou Guanyu faces a post-session stewards investigation for pushing in front of Ricciardo when before the pitlane opened for the first segment and for crossing the pit exit line late in Q1.

So a simply lovely Saturday for Max Verstappen. Winner in the sprint race and now pole position for the Miami Grand Prix. The Red Bull driver is looking strong for the race but can the Ferraris be able to challenge? We shall find out on race day.

Miami Grand Prix, qualifying results:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:27.241
2 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:27.382
3 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:27.455
4 Sergio Perez Red Bull 1:27.460
5 Lando Norris McLaren 1:27.594
6 Oscar Piastri McLaren 1:27.675
7 George Russell Mercedes 1:28.067
8 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:28.107
9 Nico Hulkenberg Haas 1:28.146
10 Yuki Tsunoda RB 1:28.192
11 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:28.222
12 Pierre Gasly Alpine 1:28.324
13 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:28.371
14 Alex Albon Williams 1:28.413
15 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 1:28.427
16 Valtteri Bottas Sauber 1:28.463
17 Logan Sargeant Williams 1:28.487
18 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:28.619
19 Zhou Guanyu Sauber 1:28.824
20 Daniel Ricciardo RB 1:28.617*
*Three-place grid penalty for overtaking under the safety car in the Chinese Grand Prix

Verstappen wins Miami sprint

Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen won the second sprint of the season beating Charles Leclerc in the Miami Grand Prix.

At the start, Leclerc appeared to gain well against Verstappen before the polesitter went left and made sure of the lead into Turn 1, where Leclerc saw off Sergio Perez’s attentions and that allowed Daniel Ricciardo to get ahead into third as they raced away.

Lando Norris never got that far as he was taken out on Turn 1’s outside line – the McLaren an innocent victim of a chain of events involving Hamilton braking very late on the inside and hitting Fernando Alonso, who was also close to Lance Stroll and they collided, which collected into Norris.

As the McLaren was left stranded on the inside – with Stroll later retiring in the pits the next time by – the safety car was called out before the restart of lap four of 19.

Verstappen aced the restart and immediately pulled out of DRS threat to Leclerc for when the system was finally activated for the first time on lap 5, during which Perez easily got back by Ricciardo with a DRS run down the back straight.

Perez could not then get quickly after Leclerc, who stuck close to Verstappen as they lapped in the low one minute, 31 second gap no one else could reach.

By the halfway stage, Verstappen led Leclerc by 2.2 seconds, with Perez finally starting to edge closer back towards Leclerc as Ricciardo held off Carlos Sainz.

Verstappen then reported his car balance and degradation were “terrible” with “zero rear grip, like quali”, at which point on lap ten Leclerc closed back in on the lead to bring the lead back under two seconds.

The gap was swinging between the two, but Verstappen eventually pulled away to win by 3.3 seconds, with Perez reducing Leclerc’s advantage through the race’s final third to finish 1.7 seconds further behind in third.

Ricciardo held off Sainz’s race-long attentions in fourth and fifth, with Oscar Piastri also less than a second back in their three-car train adrift of the leaders.

Nico Hulkenberg took seventh for Haas ahead of Hamilton, who had the most dramatic race following the Turn 1 close for which the race stewards deciding no blame – most of his action involving Kevin Magnussen in the other Haas.

Hamilton was handed a post-race 20-second penalty for speeding in the pitlane during the early safety car period, which dropped him to P16 in the final results.

Hamilton struggled to get by Magnussen when DRS was activated, complaining about a lack of top speed in his Mercedes.

On lap eight, Magnussen cut the chicane ahead of Hamilton, while three laps later they collided through the long Turn 12 right-hander after the back straight, where Magnussen had been coming back from leaving the track.

On lap 14, Hamilton attacked Magnussen on the outside run to Turn 11 but Magnussen braked so late on the inside they both went off and Yuki Tsunoda took the opportunity to get ahead of the Mercedes.

Magnussen, who by this time had been handed a 10-second penalty for cutting the chicane, then let Tsunoda and Hamilton by before he was handed three more penalties for the other incidents involving Hamilton, who repassed Tsunoda’s RB on the final lap.

These included a five-second time addition for track limits abuse, which meant the Haas driver finished last in the standings, behind Alonso, who had dropped to the rear of the field following the Turn 1 contact and later fought Esteban Ocon’s Alpine before the Aston Martin made a late pitstop.

Ocon ended up P15 having served a 10-second stop-go penalty during the safety car for hitting Leclerc on the laps to the grid and breaking his own front wing.

Hamilton’s post-race penalty was given for speeding in the pitlane, which occurred on one of the occasions the whole field twice touring through the pits behind the safety car as the lap one crash debris and Norris’s McLaren were cleared away.

Norris faces an investigation now the sprint has concluded for walking across the track back to the pits following the early accident.

So congratulations to Max Verstappen in winning the Miami sprint. These extra points will do nicely for the championship. Good to see RB scoring double points with Daniel Ricciardo taking P4 with Yuki Tsunoda finishing in P8. Qualifying will be next.

Miami Grand Prix, sprint results:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 31:31.383
2 Charles Leclerc Ferrari +3.371s
3 Sergio Perez Red Bull +5.095s
4 Daniel Ricciardo RB +14.971s
5 Carlos Sainz Ferrari +15.222s
6 Oscar Piastri McLaren +15.750s
7 Nico Hulkenberg Haas +22.054s
8 Yuki Tsunoda RB +29.816s
9 Pierre Gasly Alpine +31.880s
10 Logan Sargeant Williams +34.355s
11 Zhou Guanyu Sauber +35.078s
12 George Russell Mercedes +35.755s
13 Alexander Albon Williams +36.086s
14 Valtteri Bottas Sauber +36.892s
15 Esteban Ocon Alpine +37.740s
16 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +49.347s
17 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin +59.409s
18 Kevin Magnussen Haas +66.303s
Lance Stroll Aston Martin DNF
Lando Norris McLaren DNF

Verstappen takes Miami sprint pole

Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen will start the Miami Grand Prix sprint race on pole position edging out Charles Leclerc, who missed out on practice following a spin. While Lando Norris was unable to repeat his SQ1 and SQ2 performance.

Norris had led SQ1 and SQ2, with a time in the middle segment that would have been good enough to top SQ3, but on the switch to the soft compound for the final segment he fell out of contention – the McLaren driver particularly paying for losing 0.8 seconds compared to Verstappen in the opening sector.

Verstappen’s sprint race pole-clinching lap was not perfect as he had to wrestle his RB20 through the tight chicane at the end of the final sector, and yet posted a one minute, 27.641 seconds that was good enough to take the top spot.

Leclerc slotted into second just over 0.1 seconds adrift in second position – an impressive turnaround after he missed most of practice following his early spin and clutch issue.

Sergio Perez finished in third ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, who escaped hitting the Turn 16 exit wall in SQ2, to take a solid P4 in the RB.

This was something Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso had done in the opening segment, before he finished the session down in eighth behind Carlos Sainz, Oscar Piastri and Lance Stroll.

In the end, Norris was only able to beat Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg, despite sealing the quickest times in the final two sectors in qualifying – his gap from the first sector enough to keep him from Verstappen.

In SQ2, which like SQ1 had the drivers circulating on the medium tyres throughout, Mercedes had both its cars taking an exit, with George Russell heading Lewis Hamilton in P11 and P12 – the latter striking the wall exiting Turn 16 onto the main straight on his final lap.

Behind came Alpine’s Esteban Ocon, Haas driver Kevin Magnussen and Yuki Tsunoda in the RB, who along with Verstappen and Norris only completed one flying lap in the middle segment.

In SQ1, Alex Albon’s last-gasp improvement was not enough to get him out of the elimination zone, before it was revealed his rise from last place to P16 was deleted due to cutting the chicane.

Albon duly had his time removed and will start last in the sprint, behind Pierre Gasly, Zhou Guanyu, Valtteri Bottas and Logan Sargeant, who therefore led the way in a qualifying session for the first time as Albon’s Williams teammate.

Bottas faces a post-session investigation for nearly colliding with Piastri at Turn 1 towards the end of SQ1, with the Sauber driver unaware of the McLaren’s fast approach to the right-hander when on a slow lap while Piastri was on a flying lap.

Hamilton will also have a post-session stewards hearing due to a possible Mercedes pits infringement during SQ2, while a series of drivers are under investigation for apparently not following the race director’s instruction regarding going too slowly on outlaps, which usually results in no sanctions being dished out.

So congratulations to Max Verstappen with this sprint pole. The defending champion even admitted he was surprise to get the quickest time despite a messy section in the chicane, with a bit of oversteer in the RB20. And yet it was enough to be in P1.

Miami Grand Prix, sprint qualifying:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:27.641
2 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:27.749
3 Sergio Perez Red Bull 1:27.876
4 Daniel Ricciardo RB 1:28.044
5 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:28.103
6 Oscar Piastri McLaren 1:28.161
7 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:28.375
8 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 1:28.419
9 Lando Norris McLaren 1:28.472
10 Nico Hulkenberg Haas 1:28.476
11 George Russell Mercedes 1:28.343
12 Lewis Hamilton Mercedds 1:28.371
13 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:28.379
14 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:28.614
15 Yuki Tsunoda RB No time
16 Pierre Gasly Alpine 1:29.185
17 Zhou Guanyu Sauber 1:29.267
18 Valtteri Bottas Sauber 1:29.360
19 Logan Sargeant Williams 1:29.551
20 Alex Albon Williams 1:29.858