Not since the 1959 and the Sebring Grand Prix has Formula 1 hosted a race in the beautiful sunshine state of Florida. In 2022 the Miami Grand Prix held its first Grand Prix on a brand new temporary/permanent circuit built around the Hard Rock Café Stadium welcoming fans from around the world.
The weekend kicked off with many celebrities (Michael Douglas), politicians (Michelle Obama), and sports legends (Michael Jordan) making their presences known in the paddock, creating a Superbowl like atmosphere at the circuit. Heading into the weekend, Ferrari and Red Bulls lead driver’s Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen had their championship battle heating up and fans were hoping for a great battle over the weekend.
Qualifying was a much smoother affair compared to Friday’s practice runs that included numerous yellow flags and a red flag cutting sessions short for some drivers. Ferrari had an excellent afternoon in Miami, locking up the entire front of the grid with Charles Leclerc securing his third pole position of the season backed up by his teammate Carlos Sainz Jr in second place. It was the first time Ferrari had 1-2 qualifying sessions since the 2019 Mexican Grand Prix.
Max Verstappen was forced to abandon his final attempt for pole position after losing just enough control of his Red Bull forcing him to be content with P3 on the grid. Red Bulls Sergio Perez secured P4 and the battle for the podium was set and waiting on Sunday.
Some dark clouds loomed over the Miami Grand Prix on Sunday, but they could not form any threat because of the sun shining through for most of the race. Temperatures were high adding a new challenge not only to the tires but also on the driver’s stamina.
Teams did their best to remain cool and Aston Martin went a little too far cooling their fuel over the acceptable limit, forcing both their drivers, Sebastien Vettel and Lance Stroll, to start the race from the pits losing all their great work in qualifying.
The huge crowd in attendance eagerly watched the F1 cars line up on the grid as the red lights began their countdown. The red lights went out and the first Miami Grand Prix kicked off with Charles Leclerc taking off cleanly maintaining his lead position heading into turn one. Contrarily, Ferrari’s Sainz could not hold back the attack of Verstappen ceding second position to the rival red Bull.
RED BULLS ARE VERY FAST
Alpines Fernando Alonso had a great start jumping from P11 to P7 mixing up the racing order. There were no incidents on the first lap and the race was on! Verstappen went on the hunt for Leclerc and not caught up to him, he passed him easily using DRS on Lap 9. Verstappen and his Red Bull were simply too fast on all the straights and would ultimately be the difference maker in beating Ferrari who is quicker in the turning sectors.
Perez on Lap 20 began to complain about experiencing power loss but luckily for him it was only momentary. After the first round of pit stops the front order of the pack did not change and it seemed that Red Bull had everything under control.
SAFETY CAR CREATES UNCERTAINTY
On Lap 41 yellow flags began to wave after McLaren’s Lando Norris crashed into Alpha Tauris Pierre Gasly who was moving slowly on the track. Norris was out of the race and Gasly was lucky to be able to race on. The yellow flag quickly devolved from a Virtual safety car to a safety car brought out onto the track.
Debris was strewn all over the track meaning the delay would last for at least a couple of laps. Teams scrambled to pit their cars and switch their tire selections from Hard to mediums and soft to make a final push for the end of the race. The top three drivers chose not to pit and remained on their hard tires, which meant that Perez, who pitted for Medium tires suddenly became a threat.
On Lap 47 the safety car bunched up the drivers on the track and made its exit as Verstappen hit the throttle to restart the race. Immediately Leclerc put pressure on Verstappen but could find the distance needed to overtake the reigning world champion.
PEREZ TAKES A LUNGE
Perez went on the hunt for Sainz and made a bold move and nearly collided with the Spaniard heading into turn 1 with too much speed on Lap 52. Perez could not repeat his attacks after that failed attempt and was forced to finish the race in fourth place.
MAD MAX WINS IN FLORIDA
Max Verstappen crossed the finish line with a comfortable lead and became the first Miami Grand Prix winner. Verstappen also claimed the fastest lap, adding an extra point to his race weekend. Ferrari, who had a solid race, had to be content with Leclerc in second place and Sainz in third.
Red Bull and Max Verstappen are now within striking distance of Ferrari for both Championship titles leading into the Spanish Grand Prix taking place at the end of May. The Miami Grand Prix was a success and fans can look forward to returning to Florida in 2023.
THE REST OF THE PACK
Aside from the front runners, fans were privy to some great battles that took place between the middle of the pack and backmarkers. Alpines Esteban Ocon had a great race after starting in dead last and ending up in the points in eighth place. HAAS’ Mick Schumacher was on the cusp of scoring the first F1 points of his career until he collided with Vettel and his Aston Martin late in the race.
Mercedes had a solid day and continued to show signs of improvement with Russel finishing in fifth after battling his teammate Hamilton who ended the race in sixth place. Alonso, who crossed the finish line in eight, was penalized with a five-second penalty to be added to his time forcing him out of the points.
Stroll and Aston Martin benefited from Alonso’s penalty landing them in tenth. Williams and Alexander Albon once again surprised the field finishing in ninth place and scoring points for the second time this season.
2022 MIAMI GRANDPRIX FINAL STANDINGS
|1||MAX VERSTAPPEN||NETHERLANDS||RED BULL||1:31.361|
|3||CARLOS SAINZ JR||SPAIN||FERRARI|
|4||SERGIO PEREZ||MEXICO||RED BULL|
|7||VALTERRI BOTTAS||FINLAND||ALFA ROMEO|
|10||LANCE STROLL||CANADA||ASTON MARTIN|
|12||YUKI TSUNDOA||JAPAN||ALPHA TAURI|
|RETIRED||KEVIN MAGNUSSEN-LAP 56||DENMARK||HAAS|
|RETIRED||SEBASTIEN VETTEL-LAP 54||GERMANY||ASTON MARTIN|
|RETIRED||PIERRE GASLY-LAP 45||FRANCE||ALPHA TAURI|
|RETIRED||LANDO NORRIS-LAP 39||BRITAIN||MCLAREN|
|RETIRED||ZHOU GUANYU-LAP 6||CHINA||ALFA ROMEO|